by June Shaw
In years past there were Nancy Drew mysteries, which countless people who became writers of mysteries read. I've heard many multi-published authors say they became inspired by reading those books. I am sad to say I read none of them. I wonder if it would help for me to read them now, although I think not. I think that to write modern mystery series better, I need to continue to read current ones. But if I'm wrong, it won't be the first time.
I was blessed to have many people my age in my neighborhood and a park and large public pool and schoolyard with lots of activities that kept me outside having fun, so I must confess I seldom sat inside reading a book that wasn't for homework while I grew up. There was band and twirling practice and sewing for home ec, and if my English I teacher told me he was sending me to a literary rally for English, it wasn't my fault. Most of the test was grammar, which I knew well, especially because my mother annoyed me by always correcting the way I spoke as a young teen. Yeah, I won. Blame it on her and our excellent teacher.
But none of the fun I was experiencing included much literature. In class we read poems (Ugh, I thought, although I wrote and sold a few years later) and short stories (better), and mythology (fun!), but we never had to read a novel, so I didn't. Just occasionally someone handed me Little Women or some other classic and I sat still long enough to read it. Then wonderful people and events came to life.
But none of those books started a series. They stood alone, strong and proud and making me wish I could read more of them. I guess that's why more authors started to write series. By that time I was a young bride having one baby after another (yep, good Catholics down here in S. La.), and who had time to think of reading a novel, much less a series?
Now the kids are grown. Their kids are growing, too. And I have discovered series--for mysteries and romance. I find that I often enjoy series more than stand-alone, although not always. It's characters that will keep me going back to spend more time with them. I also write both--series and stand-alones.
What about you? What type books do you enjoy? Does a series hook you and keep you, or do you prefer to discover someone and some place totally new in each book you read?