Why NOT write them? The connected series is a staple of most genre fiction. Mystery series have abounded for decades, as have fantasy and science fiction series, but only in the last fifteen years has the romance series become popular. At the beginning, they were rare. When an author did write them, as with Johanna Lindsey’s Malory series, they weren’t necessarily planned out ahead, the way they are now, with publishers announcing the series connections from the beginning. More often, authors wrote isolated connected books here and there, like Jayne Ann Krentz’s Gift of Gold and Gift of Fire (two of my all-time favorites).
Eventually the romantic series came into its own, and now authors write them more often than not. My own School for Heiresses series, Regency-set historicals featuring the spirited graduates of Mrs. Harris’s School for Young Ladies, is the fourth series I’ve written. These unconventional heiresses who prove a match for society’s most irresistible rogues are connected only by their association with the school, but I’ve also written series where the characters were friends, royal half-brothers, and sisters. Here’s why I like writing them:
- The over-arching themes—in this particular series I include a running thread in the epigrams, of letters between Mrs. Harris and her anonymous benefactor, “Cousin” Michael. It’s such fun to play around with those two characters without actually revealing who Cousin Michael is.
- Seeing the same world through the eyes of more than just one book’s hero and heroine gives me a broadened perspective of the milieu.
- For faithful readers of the whole series, I can include inside jokes that only they would get. It enhances the experience, for me AND for them, while hopefully not alienating readers who pick up only one book.
- If I fall in love with a secondary character, I can have a second go at him or her. That’s what happened with Eliza, a minor character in ONLY A DUKE WILL DO. She just sprang off the page, so I had to include her in a future story, which turned out to be the novella in the SCHOOL FOR HEIRESSES anthology.
- I can explore a character outside his/her relationship to the heroine/hero. That’s hard to do in one book. I can also explore a character’s growth over a longer period than one book.
So what about you? Do you read series? Do you like them? If so, why? If not, why not?