The Romance Series: When Is Enough Enough?
I love series books. I read a lot of them, although most of them are in the mystery category. I can’t get enough of Sherlock Holmes rousing Doctor Watson from a deep slumber with those ominous words, “Come, Watson, come! The game is afoot!” Archie Goodwin can quit on Nero Wolfe time and time again. I’ll be there to eat it up. And even though Della Street never so much as gives Perry Mason a smooch, I keep checking in on them every now and then. Just in case.
Doyle wrote 56 Holmes short stories and 4 novels. There are over 80 Nero Wolfe mysteries, and dozens of Hercule Poirot adventures. And rarely over the course of these series do the protagonists change much. And we don’t expect, or even want them to.
It’s different when you’re writing a romantic series, though, even if the romance is background material and not part of the main plot. The characters MUST develop and change, or you’re doing your readers a disservice. Love either grows or withers, it has its ups and downs, but eventually there’s only so much you can do with two characters who are in love, unless you just settle them in as a happily devoted characters and let plots swirl around them. But at that point you’re not writing a romance any longer, are you?
I’ve thought about this a lot as I’m in the middle of writing the third of a series, a book called The Scarlet Tide. It features Duncan Andrews and Robbie Church, who I first introduced in Pale As a Ghost. Their tale was continued in Animal Instinct. Now, in the Duncan Andrews series, the romance is there, but there’s always a paranormal plot going on as well. Duncan is a private detective who specializes in supernatural cases. Robbie is his boyfriend, but is a ghost who died ten years ago. They can barely touch each other, let alone have sex, which is starting (after 10 years!) to really strain their relationship, even though Duncan is devoted to Robbie. Enter Nick, a regular guy who Duncan is attracted to…
I knew when I wrote the first book how the series would end. I knew that, at least in this configuration of characters, that there would have to be a final conclusion, and that it couldn’t stretch out too long. Three or four books at most. And, in a way, that makes me sad. I’m not sure I’m ready to say goodbye to these people yet. And maybe I won’t, at least for a while. After all, when you’re dealing with the paranormal, odd things can happen.
Even J.K. Rowling, now that the Harry Potter series is over and done with, has hinted that she might revisit Hogwarts someday. I guess you just have to hope you can keep the magic spark going.
Stephen Osborne has been an improvisational comedian, a pizza restaurant manager, and a bookseller. Other than writing, his addictions include British television shows, reading mysteries, and (a recent addition) Broadway musicals. He lives in rural Illinois with Jadzia the One-Eyed Wonder Dog.
Click HERE for his backlist at Dreamspinner Press.
To celebrate Mr. Osborne’s visit here today, I am giving away a digital copy of Pale As a Ghost to one lucky commenter.
A Duncan Andrews Thriller
Private detective Duncan Andrews’s best friend Gina is a witch. His dog is a zombie. And his dead boyfriend, Robbie, is a ghost. So it’s hardly any wonder that he uses his connection to the supernatural to help him solve cases. Good thing, too, because Duncan has his hands full. Janice Sanderson, the richest woman in Indianapolis, wants him to find her stripper daughter, Brenda, and another client is having some trouble with a specter haunting her family home. On top of that, Duncan has decided to add dating into the mix, though after Robbie’s death, he’s not sure he’s ready.
When Duncan meets Nick while tracking down a lead on Brenda’s boyfriend, he shelves his doubts and agrees to a date. Robbie doesn’t make it easy on him, showing up to spoil his chances, but that is the least of Duncan’s worries—because one of his clients’ husbands is missing and there’s a serial killer on the loose—one Duncan fears isn’t human.
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