This particular subject is close to my heart as I begin a detective series. As a free flow/panster writer, I always let the characters take charge. However, now, I have to plan a plot arc across three books. So let’s see what is required for a book series.
Firstly, know what makes writing a series different. A series has a multi-novel continuity with longer-term, series wide developments. The ending of one book should also be the hook for the following book and there should be a central conflict and tense that sustains interest. Create a compelling title for the series and each book in the series.
Secondly, there should be subplots that propel each book forward to the larger or main conflict. These subplots create smaller rises and falls in the story tension. This allows each book to have its own self-contained struggle and opportunity for growth of the characters.
You need to create a compelling central conflict for the series but also have secondary obstacles to the main characters path, with additional complications that delay the main resolution. Also move your characters through multiple settings with distinctive interests, surprises and challenges. In short, create a fictional world readers want to return to.
To aid your series ensure you outline the series in advance, enabling you to understand how each book relates to another. Establish your central characters early, however reveal their backstories gradually so your readers become engaged in their lives. Give them faults, show how their environment affects them and decide how they will change from book to book. You can also change the cast of your characters as the series continues.
Make sure you give each book in the series a strong central event. Remember that each book should stand on its own to a degree. A reader should be able to start with book four and not find the story so bewildering that they’re completely lost. To make each novel in your series work well as a standalone work – have a strong central event and image for each book and create a secondary conflict and partial resolution for each novel. This can be by your characters acquiring a skill, conviction or strategy. With the introduction of tension with uncertainty and unknowns the reader will want to know what comes next.
Plan in advance.
Provide a resolution of part of the narrative at the end of each story but carry elements over to the next book.
Maintain an overarching plot and character arcs. Give your characters time to develop over the series.
Maintain consistency with backstories, attributes, settings and plot from the previous books. Keep a record of details and timelines so you can reference it as you write.
Weave reminders into each novel to a lesser degree.
Do you have any tips you can share in regard to writing a book series?
My guest today is Simon Rose, author of many novels and nonfiction books for children and young adults. His latest novel, Parallel Destiny, has just been released.
So tell us about the new book
Parallel Destiny is the third part of the paranormal Flashback trilogy. The first instalment, entitled Flashback, was published in 2015 and the second, Twisted Fate, was published in 2017.
The trilogy features ghosts, psychics, alternate timelines, parallel universes, and Project Mindstorm, a secret operation involving deadly mind control experiments, as Max and Julia investigate events concealed for over twenty years.
Parallel Destiny takes place immediately after the events depicted in Twisted Fate. Project Mindstorm no longer exists and Kane and his associates no longer represent a danger. However, Max and Julia now have to contend with the sinister Alastair Hammond and his experiments into the existence of parallel universes and alternate realities. Marooned within a bewildering series of multiple universes, Max and Julia are forced to fight for their own survival and to save the very fabric of reality from Hammond’s deadly scheme.
Will there be any more books in the series?
I’m not sure. Right now I’m not planning on any more since the story has reached a logical conclusion. However, Flashback was originally going to be a single novel and I didn’t consider sequels until later, so you never know. I think there’s certainly some potential to write something else in this genre featuring the two main characters, but I guess time will tell.
You don’t seem to have any shortage of ideas. Where do you get them all from?
Ideas come from anywhere and everywhere really. Books, movies, TV, online research, out walking the dog, dreams, an overheard conversation, friends and family, history, mythology, and so many other sources. I have a few ideas that may never come to anything, but I still keep them anyway. It’s always a good plan to save them because you never know if, or when, an idea might fit into a story. My first four novels were all very early story ideas and were the first books to be published. However, more recently published novels, such as The Sphere of Septimus and the Flashback series, were also very early ideas for novels. They just took longer to develop as novels. Flashback was also one of my earliest ideas but again it took a while for me to develop the initial story, and consequently the rest of the series. Even if the ideas don’t work right away, they might in the future and you just never know when you’ll get another piece of the puzzle.
What other novels have you written?
I’ve written fifteen novels so far, since the first one came out in 2003.The Sorcerer’s Letterbox and The Heretic’s Tomb are historical fiction adventures set in medieval England, – The Alchemist’s Portrait is a time travel story, The Emerald Curse is all about superheroes and comic books, The Doomsday Mask is all about the legend of Atlantis, and The Sphere of Septimus involves the characters traveling into another world and is in the same vein as the Harry Potter series, The Chronicles of Narnia, or Lord of the Rings. Future Imperfect is a technology-driven story featuring mysterious messages from the future and The Time Camera about a myserious device that captures images of different historical periods, and The Clone Conspiracy features secret experiments into human cloning. The Shadowzone series featuring Shadowzone, Into The Web, and Black Dawn, was published last year. The series involves the discovery of a grim dystopian version of Earth that’s ruled by a totalitarian dictatorship, the threat of a deadly virus, and a race against time to save the lives of millions.
Are these your favourite genres in which to write?
Yes, there are certain genres that I like. When I first read the Harry Potter books, I knew that they were written for the age range, style, and had the level of danger and excitement for young readers that I was aiming for with the many story ideas that I had at the time.
However, as much as I enjoyed all the Harry Potter books, I wasn’t interested in writing my own story ideas on themes like folklore, mythology, magic wands, witches and wizards, or mythological creatures and monsters. Instead, I wanted my stories to be about the sort of things that I enjoyed reading about. These included time travel, fantasy, history, science fiction, lost cities, superheroes, other worlds, parallel universes, and the paranormal, and those are the types of stories I’ve been writing ever since.
So is it true that authors should write what they know?
In some ways yes, although this might sound a little odd because no one actually knows how to travel in time, attend a wizard school, visit other dimensions, have super powers, or go to the edge of the universe, at least as far as we know anyway. But what this term actually means is that it’s much easier to write about what you know or about what you’re interested in. You’ll have far more ideas about your own favorite topics and you’ll also decide exactly what you want to write about and not just try to do the same as everyone else or follow a hot new trend, whether it’s teenage wizards, vampires, zombies, or something else. If you write about unfamiliar topics, you’ll have to do more research for a story or perhaps plan out the story a lot more, rather than letting the ideas from your imagination flow into the computer or onto the paper as the story keeps coming to you. Writing about things that you’re not passionate about will seem much more like work, when writing is supposed to be fun. Write about what you know and love and it’s going to be a much more enjoyable experience.
Have you worked with lots of other authors?
Yes quite a lot over the last few years, in many different genres. This has involved both substantive and copy editing of completed novels, but I also work as a coach for writers with works in progress. Some of the projects I’ve worked on that have subsequently been published are here on my website. You can also see some of the references and recommendations from other clients that I’ve worked with.
What are you currently working on?
I’m always working on something but currently I’m writing a number of nonfiction books and doing quite a lot of editing and coaching work with other authors, helping them with their novels, short stories, or works in progress. I’m also working on a historical fiction novel set in the turbulent era of the English Civil War in the 1640s and I hope to be able to focus on that a little more in the coming months.
Where can a reader purchase your latest book?
Parallel Destiny is available in paperback and as an ebook worldwide on Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, and Indigo Chapters in Canada, and at many other locations online. Your local bookstore should also be able to order a copy.
You can learn more about Simon and his work on his website at http://www.simon-rose.com or online at the following social media sites:
Do you have a favorite blog post topic to share with your readers?
I organize blog topics for the year every December and then publish my intent. This keeps me accountable and gives my followers an idea of what to expect. Dependent on the topics or choice of posts, my schedule changes. I even scheduled every day for one year using a word of the day diary – thus, each post was my interpretation of that word! Yes, it was a busy year and some words took longer for me to come up with a post but it was a wonderful creative exercise for a writer! For example, this year, I post Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday. Jan -May Monday’s were Lost Words, Wednesday’s alternative living options (inspired by my speculative fiction novel, Life in Slake Patch) and Saturday’s are a prompt contest. The second half of the year – Monday’s are various topics including an invitation for my followers to suggest one, and Wednesday’s are reincarnation / life after death and related topics. (inspired by my romance based on soul mates reincarnated, The Twesome Loop).
Throughout the time I have run my blog, I have covered many topics but a favorite one is interviews with other writers and authors – I get to know them and their writing.
The little Rumble plush toy I made for promotion of Rumble’s First Scare.
When was your last pinch me I’m dreaming moment?
I have had a few – publishing my first children’s book, Rumble’s First Scare, and subsequent books, The Rython Kingdom (an adult romance novella set in medieval England) and another children’s book, Ockleberries to the Rescue.
Also becoming Secretary of my writing group, Writers Foundation of Strathcona County and also Vice President of the Arts & Culture Council of Strathcona County.
Writing has become the focus of my life and a true passion in my later years. Although I have always been creative, painting, sculpture, knitting and pottery, it was not until I immigrated to Canada from England and happened across a leaflet in the local library for the writing group. I went to the first meeting and instantly found a fellowship that has enriched my life.
Hay-men, mommets, tattie bogles, kakashi, tao-tao—whether formed of straw or other materials, the tradition of scarecrows is pervasive in farming cultures around the world. The scarecrow serves as decoy, proxy, and effigy—human but not human. We create them in our image and ask them to protect our crops and by extension our very survival, but we refrain from giving them the things a creation might crave—souls, brains, free-will, love. In Scarecrow, fifteen authors of speculative fiction explore what such creatures might do to gain the things they need or, more dangerously, think they want.
Within these pages, ancient enemies join together to destroy a mad mommet, a scarecrow who is a crow protects solar fields and stores long-lost family secrets, a woman falls in love with a scarecrow, and another becomes one. Encounter scarecrows made of straw, imagination, memory, and robotics while being spirited to Oz, mythological Japan, other planets, and a neighbor’s back garden. After experiencing this book, you’ll never look at a hay-man the same.
Featuring all new work by Jane Yolen, Andrew Bud Adams, Laura Blackwood, Amanda Block, Scott Burtness, Virginia Carraway Stark, Amanda C. Davis, Megan Fennell, Kim Goldberg, Katherine Marzinsky, Craig Pay, Sara Puls, Holly Schofield, Laura VanArendonk Baugh, and Kristina Wojtaszek.
“Introduction” by Rhonda Parrish
“Scarecrow Hangs” by Jane Yolen
“Kakashi & Crow” by Megan Fennell
“The Roofnight” by Amanda C. Davis
“Skin Map” by Kim Goldberg
“A Fist Full of Straw” by Kristina Wojtaszek
“Judge & Jury” by Laura VanArendonk Baugh
“Waking from His Master’s Dream” by Katherine Marzinsky
“The Straw Samurai” by Andrew Bud Adams
“Black Birds” by Laura Blackwood
“Edith and I” by Virginia Carraway Stark
“Scarecrow Progressions (Rubber Duck Remix)” by Sara Puls
“Truth About Crows” by Craig Pay
“Two Steps Forward” by Holly Schofield
“Only the Land Remembers” by Amanda Block
“If I Only Had an Autogenic Cognitive Decision Matrix” by Scott Burtness
Direct library or bulk purchase available through World Weaver Press (contact firstname.lastname@example.org for rates).
Rhonda Parrish is driven by a desire to do All The Things. She has been the publisher and editor-in-chief of Niteblade Magazine for nearly eight years now (which is like forever in internet time) and is the editor of several anthologies including Fae, Corvidae, Scarecrow, and B is for Broken. In addition, Rhonda is a writer whose work has been in dozens of publications like Tesseracts 17: Speculating Canada from Coast to Coast, Imaginarium: The Best Canadian Speculative Writing (2012) and Mythic Delirium. Her website, updated weekly, is at rhondaparrish.com.
Andrew Bud Adams was raised by spider-men and turtle ninjas and ronin rabbits, who are now helping raise his own children. “The Straw Samurai,” inspired by them and the Japanese folk tale “The Tengu’s Magic Cloak,” is one of his first published retellings. When not wandering between fantasy villages or teaching college writing, he can be found on Twitter @andrewbudadams.
Whenever grownups asked young Laura Blackwood what she wanted to be when she grew up, she said “Published!” That dream finally came true—Black Birds is her first story to see print. Laura currently lives and works in Edmonton, Alberta, and tinkers with many more writing projects than is considered wise or healthy.
Amanda Block is a writer and ghostwriter based in Edinburgh, UK. A graduate of the Creative Writing Masters at the University of Edinburgh, she is often inspired by myths and fairy tales, frequently using them as a starting point to tell other stories. Amanda’s work has been featured in anthologies such as Modern Grimmoire, Stories for Homes, and World Weaver Press’ Fae. She has been shortlisted for the Bridport Prize and the Chapter One Promotions Short Story Competition. Amanda is currently working on her first novel. She can be found online at amandawritersblock.blogspot.co.uk.
Scott Burtness lives in Minnesota with his wife, Liz and their English Staffordshire-Boxer, Frank. He has it on good authority that he possesses all of the requisite parts to be considered human, and sincerely believes he’s taller when measured with the metric system. Scott’s debut novel, WISCONSIN VAMP, is available on Amazon.com. When not writing horror-comedy romps or sci-fi adventures, Scott enjoys bowling, karaoke, craft brews and afternoon naps. Follow him on Twitter (@SWBauthor). Don’t follow him down dark alleys.
Amanda C. Davis has an engineering degree and a fondness for baking, gardening, and low-budget horror films. Her work has appeared in Crossed Genres, InterGalactic Medicine Show, and others. She tweets enthusiastically as @davisac1. You can find out more about her and read more of her work at amandacdavis.com. Her collection of retold fairy tales with Megan Engelhardt, Wolves and Witches, is available from World Weaver Press.
Megan Fennell is a court clerk, cat owner, and writer of strange tales, currently living and working in Lethbridge, Alberta. Although loving magpies to the point of having two of them tattooed on her, it was the Danish myth of the Valravn that held her corvid-like attention span for this anthology. Her stories can also be found in Wrestling with Gods: Tesseracts 18, Tesseracts 17, OnSpec Magazine, and the charity anthology Help: Twelve Tales of Healing.
Kim Goldberg is an award-winning writer and author of six books. She is a winner of the Rannu Fund Poetry Prize for Speculative Literature and other distinctions. Her speculative tales and poems have appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies including Tesseracts 11, Zahir Tales, On Spec, Urban Green Man, Dark Mountain, Imaginarium, Here Be Monsters, Switched On Gutenberg and elsewhere. Her seventh book, Refugium, about people living with electrosensitivity, will be released in 2015. She lives in Nanaimo, BC, and online at PigSquashPress.com.
Katherine Marzinsky is a writer and student currently residing in New Jersey. She attends Kean University, where she is working toward an undergraduate degree with a major in English and a minor in Spanish. Her previous work has appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, A Cappella Zoo, Cease, Cows, and The Inanimates I story anthology.
Craig Pay is a short story author and novelist. He writes speculative fiction (usually). His short stories have appeared with a number of different magazines and anthologies. He is represented by John Jarrold. Craig runs the successful Manchester Speculative Fiction writers’ group. He enjoys Chinese martial arts and many other hobbies. You can visit him at craigpay.com.
Sara Puls spends most of her time lawyering, researching, writing, and editing. Her dreams frequently involve strange mash-ups of typography, fairy creatures, courtrooms, and blood. Sara’s stories have been published in Daily Science Fiction, The Future Fire, GigaNotoSaurus, Penumbra, World Weaver Press’s Fae anthology, and elsewhere. She also co-edits Scigentasy, a gender- and identity-focused spec fic zine. On Twitter, she is @sarapuls.
Holly Schofield’s work has appeared in many publications including Lightspeed, Crossed Genres, and Tesseracts. For more of her work, see hollyschofield.wordpress.com.
Virginia Carraway Stark started her writing career with three successful screenplays and went on to write speculative fiction as well as writing plays and for various blogs. She has written for several anthologies and three novels as well. Her novel, Dalton’s Daughter is available now through Amazon and Starklight Press. Detachment’s Daughter and Carnival Fun are coming later this year. You can find her on Twitter @tweetsbyvc, on Facebook Facebook.com/virginiacarrawaystark.
LauraVanArendonk Baugh was born at a very early age and never looked back. She overcame childhood deficiencies of having been born without teeth or developed motor skills, and by the time she matured into a recognizable adult she had become a behavior analyst, an internationally-recognized animal trainer, a costumer/cosplayer, a dark chocolate addict, and a Pushcart Prize-nominated author with a following for her folklore-based stories and speculative fiction. Find her at LauraVanArendonkBaugh.com.
Kristina Wojtaszek grew up as a woodland sprite and mermaid, playing around the shores of Lake Michigan. At any given time she could be found with live snakes tangled in her hair and worn out shoes filled with sand. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Wildlife Management as an excuse to spend her days lost in the woods with a book in hand. Now a mother of two little tricksters and their menagerie of small beasts, she continues to conjure bits of fantasy during the rare spell of silence. Her fairy tales, ghost stories, poems and YA fiction have been published by World Weaver Press (Opal, Fae, and Specter Spectacular), Far Off Places and Sucker Literary Magazine. Follow her @KristinaWojtasz or on her blog, Twice Upon a Time.
Mr. Yegpie the magpie, tweets as @YegMagpie on Twitter
Jane Yolen, often called “the Hans Christian Andersen of America”(Newsweek) is the author of well over 350 books, including OWL MOON, THE DEVIL’S ARITHMETIC, and HOW DO DINOSAURS SAY GOODNIGHT. Her books and stories have won an assortment of awards—two Nebulas, a World Fantasy Award, a Caldecott, the Golden Kite Award, three Mythopoeic awards, two Christopher Medals, a nomination for the National Book Award, and the Jewish Book Award, among many others. She has been nominated three times for the Pushcart Prize in Poetry. She is also the winner (for body of work) of the World Fantasy Assn. Lifetime Achievement Award, Science Fiction Poetry Association Grand Master Award, Catholic Library’s Regina Medal, Kerlan Medal from the University of Minnesota, the du Grummond Medal from Un. of Southern Missisippi, the Smith College Alumnae Medal, and New England Pubic Radio Arts and Humanities Award . Six colleges and universities have given her honorary doctorates. Her website is: http://www.janeyolen.com.
Adria Laycraft has stories in IGMS, the Third Flatiron Anthology Abbreviated Epics, FAE, OnSpec Magazine, Tesseracts Sixteen, James Gunn’s Ad Astra, Neo-opsis Magazine, and Hypersonic Tales, among others. She is a graduate of the Odyssey Writers Workshop and a member of the Imaginative Fiction Writers Association (IFWA). Adria is also an award-nominated editor. For more details visit adrialaycraft.com.
Are your characters based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Thankfully, no. These people are creations based on my research into abusive relationships.
Of the characters you have created or envisioned, which is your favorite & why?
My fave is Dreya from ‘A Place to Be’ (On Spec, Winter 2013) because she has optimism and the guts to believe in a better world.
Is this your first time writing about corvids and/or scarecrows?
No, I have a magpie character in a novella called ‘Circlewood’ where a magical forest becomes a prison for those who wield magic.
What do you enjoy most about writing?
You mean I’m supposed to enjoy it? All kidding aside, I love getting lost in a story, mine or another’s.
Is there one subject you would never write about as an author? What is it?
No subject is safe, ever. Nothing is set in stone if you are fearless. A good friend told me that once when I was afraid of what I was writing about. Another author, Holly Lisle, says, “Dare to say the things that scare you…those are the things worth saying.”
What book are you reading now?
I am re-reading out of my home library to remember why they are worthy of being part of my collection. Some will be donated and I will purchase an ebook copy if I ever want to read them again. I have a plan to live a vagabond life in my fifties, so having an extensive paper library won’t work. That said, there are books in my collection that will be safely and carefully stored away, including all the signed stuff and my friends’ works, so I can rebuild a proper library when I settle in one place again.
Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
One that comes to mind is Maggie Stiefvater. I loved ‘Raven Boys’ and ‘The Dream Thieves’, and next to read is ‘Blue Lily, Lily Blue’.
Do you see writing as a career?
Because I am also a freelance editor and copywriter, yes.
Do you nibble as you write? If so what’s your favorite snack food?
No, but I do drink a lot of tea.
Do you have any odd habits or childhood stories?
My whole life is an odd habit!
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
Living on the road, going where I want, when I want, and seeing all the beautiful places…but most importantly, listening to all the stories that those places have to tell.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Yeah, the writing. This time I’m serious.
What reward do you give yourself for making a deadline?
Time in nature.
What genre is your next project? What is it about?
My WIP is Urban Fantasy that is a total nod to Charles de Lint, but goes in very different directions and explains both why the Fae have disappeared and why we love our fur babies so much.