Saturday, November 8, 2014

Series or Single Title?

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?