When planning and plotting out a book series, an author must create viable characters whose storylines can naturally stretch over a period of weeks, months, years and still hold the readers' interest, making them yearn for the next book in the line. In a set series - say a trilogy or a quartet of novels - the last book tends to wrap up all plots and tie up all loose ends, typically appeasing readers. However, an open-ended series - even if it is well-paced and well-received - might be 'cancelled' by the publisher before it is really finished. When a series comes to an end before it should, it can leave both readers and the author feeling out-of-sorts. Here's some insight on series writing from author Christopher Golden.
Do you find that your series evolve as you write, or do you firmly stick to what you had in mind when you first conceived the series? Do they always end as you intended them to end?
With a series, there are times when you don't ever plan an ending. With something like PROWLERS or BODY OF EVIDENCE, there's no definitive end point. I'd like to go back and do more of those. Same with THE SHADOW SAGA. But with something like THE VEIL TRILOGY, since it's a trilogy, it has a very definitive end point. That said, the VEIL books changed during the writing more than anything I've ever written, and I think for the better. You can't tie yourself down to following the outline, even if you thought the outline was great at the time you wrote it. Creativity is fluid. On the other hand, generally the ending you imagined -- hazy and evolving as it may be -- still has the general shape of the ending you eventually write. At least in my experience. I wouldn't call it a rule. I'd be happy to go totally off track and invent an ending unlike anything I'd originally desired if the writing process led me there.
Deal-wise, publication-wise, can be a totally different story. Which of your series were expanded past the initial deal for X amount of books? Which ended before they were truly done?
Body of Evidence started as four books, then became eight, and finally ten. The Shadow Saga started as two, became three, and then four. (so far) The Menagerie started with two, then four, and sadly it looks like we'll eventually have to find another publisher for the fifth and final book, as Ace appears not to be interested in completing the series. With the Hidden Cities books that I'm doing with Tim Lebbon, it started as two books and we're going to be exploring shortly what the next move will be. We're certainly hoping Bantam will do more, and I believe they will. Body of Evidence, Prowlers, Shadow Saga, Menagerie...all of those have stories untold, and I hope to one day tell them.
You've occasionally had characters from different series cross paths. If you could write a crossover for any of your books, who would you like to see meet up?
There are a ton of little crossovers that I splash in here and there. Grumbler from STRANGEWOOD appears for a moment in THE MYTH HUNTERS. Kevin Murphy, the protagonist of STRAIGHT ON 'TIL MORNING, appears in THE BOYS ARE BACK IN TOWN. There are references to fictional Jameson, MA, which is from WILDWOOD ROAD, in my new YA thriller POISON INK. And that's just a sampling. But for a full-on crossover, I always wanted Jenna Blake from BODY OF EVIDENCE to meet Jack Dwyer from PROWLERS. There are a few connections between the two series -- someone wears a Somerset University sweatshirt in PROWLERS. And Jace Castillo, a cop who appears in one series, became a prominent character in the other.
Drop by Bildungsroman next Monday for yet another installment of our serial interview!
Pick up Christopher Golden's newest novel, Poison Ink, from a bookstore near you! Look for it in the Young Adult/Teen Fiction department.