The Perils & Pleasure of a Long Series
Posted by Nancy Northcott Jan 29 2013, 12:37 am
My guest today is NY Times bestselling author Grace Burrowes. Her historical romances featuring the Windham family have totally captured me with their strong characters and deep emotions, and I’m eager for each new book. Grace will talk with us today about the experience of writing a long series.
Welcome, Grace! For those new to the series, maybe we could start with a brief description?
“Lady Eve’s Indiscretion” is the seventh book in a series that’s now envisioned to include eight novels and four novellas. The central characters are the eight Windham siblings, their parents, and a few friends and relatives who wouldn’t remain in a quiet secondary role.
When it came time to write book seven, I was nervous, for two reasons. I had the usual anxiety of the “organic” writer. I had no idea on page one what my subconscious would come up with to keep the story moving forward on page 50, much less wrap the story up on page 350. I’m getting used to that worry, though, having written a couple dozen manuscripts, and realizing that these things have a way of working themselves out (after I’ve suffered weeks of uncertainty, each and every time).
My other concern had to do with what material I could work with that was unique to the characters in that book. While the author might know the characters better than if meeting them for the first time, the readers may not, so the character must be presented afresh, and yet without leaving any important backstory detail out.
In this regard, a long series is both trickier and easier than stand alone books. Lady Eve started popping up a few books ago, a sweet, soft spoken blond unique among her siblings for being petite. In the course of writing her book, I found out she was born prematurely, and that she shared a love of horses with her father.
What I hadn’t realized previously, is that Eve no longer rides because a bad accident cost her her confidence in the saddle. This insight came to me when it occurred to me that all the other Windham sisters had gone riding in the Park, but never Eve. Hmm.
I’d also met Lucas Denning, Marquis of Deene in a previous book (“Lady Maggie’s Secret Scandal”), and knew he was honorable, in want of funds, and a family friend who’d served on the Peninsula with Eve’s brothers. What I hadn’t realized was that because Deene was friends with Eve’s brothers, he’d become protective of Eve—and he’d picked up a few things about her that she herself was unaware he knew.
This interplay between the known and the undiscovered can’t take place in the same way in stand alone books, and it’s an interplay I enjoy. I also found out in Eve’s book that there’s a particular bond between Louisa and Eve, and that His Grace and Her Grace have names for some of their most enjoyable shared memories.
In this sense, a long series is a lot of like a family friendship. You can think you know a family, and still be surprised and delighted by the new things you learn about them. Because I am from a big family, that feels like home to me, and while I haven’t written another series quite as long as the Windhams’ series, my penchant for related family stories is still running strong.
For more information about Grace and her work, check out her website, www.graceburrowes.com. You can also find her on Facebook and on Twitter.
Do you have questions for Grace? Are you a fan of the related-books series? What are some of your favorites?
Grace will send one commenter a signed copy of “Lady Eve’s Indiscretion.” Check back at 11:30 tomorrow night to find out who won.