Sunday, February 26, 2017

Why Write Mystery Series?

I ask myself this question periodically. Mostly, I feel a responsibility to continue the characters, as if they cease to exist if I stop writing them. (Maybe an inflated opinion of my powers?)

The first series (Jolie Gentil) I wrote because I wanted to write about the Jersey shore and thought I could not do it in one book. Of course, the books are about the characters more than the place, but the setting was important to me. I never thought there would be ten books (more coming).

I'm not from Jersey, but I LOVE those towns along the ocean. Most had their size established before the ocean condo craze, so they feel more homey than the Maryland and Delaware towns I've visited much of my life. Several of those exploded in concrete.

At Bonaparte, Iowa 2008 floods
Because I love my adopted home of Iowa, a series there was almost inevitable (River's Edge). It grew from experiences working in several towns along the Des Moines River. The combination of rural life and water living is compelling.

Sadly, what made river towns so captivating were the floods of 2008. People sandbagged for days and still lost so much. And then they shouldered on -- which meant cleaning a lot of mud from basements and tackling mold, among other things. I met so many fantastic people during those summer weeks.

Now, here's the funny part. I wrote "Tip a Hat to Murder" in 2016, intending it to be a stand-alone book set in an Illinois town. I now live in that state, and thought writing about it would make it feel more like home.

Dang, if I didn't really enjoy those characters and want to continue them. So, three series! That's a lot for me to juggle. I've noticed others are far more prolific as series writers, especially for mysteries. I will read anything written by Carolyn Haines -- if you have not read her, do so.

Sometimes I wonder if it's...lazy to want to use the same characters, but I don't think so. They just kind of grab your heart and won't leave.
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