As of a few weeks ago, when my ever-patient wife did some tinkering to my profile on goodreads, I am officially a series writer. Looking back, I suspect I’ve been heading in this direction for a while, but I can’t describe the sense of relief and glee that came with the confirmation from Bold Strokes that, yes, they were happy for me to develop my upcoming June release, No Good Reason, into a series.
Although No Good Reason is my fourth novel, I’d been writing fiction online for years before BSB signed me up, and while it hasn’t always been a case of writing what I know, I have tended to write what I love. My bookshelves are crammed with trilogies and ongoing crime series, while the shelves by our TV are full of box sets: those shows that took the time to create interesting and enduring story arcs that kept me coming back week after week and made me give a damn about their characters. I still get giddy now when I discover a new series, especially if there’s a glut of books or episodes to catch up on and I have the time to devour the lot.
By the time I finished my second novel, Desolation Point, I’d already decided to write another story featuring its lead characters, Alex and Sarah, not realising that this wasn’t the “done thing”, that authors weren’t supposed to write sequels to standalone romances, no matter how much they wanted to. That sequel, Tumbledown, was the start of my series itch, a shift away from the romantic suspense genre and towards police procedural/crime thrillers, a genre more supportive of multi-book arcs. So the Brit-based Dark Peak series – of which No Good Reason is Book One – was born, with a new criminal investigation forming the crux of each book’s plot, but with the same core characters at the heart of everything.
This gave me the confidence to outline a far more extensive background for Sanne Jensen and Meg Fielding, the heroines of the Dark Peak series. For the first time, I chose to create two women who already knew each other well, enabling me to weave a shared history into the novels, to imagine their in-jokes and memories, and to create that comfortable sense of belonging that comes from battling through a deprived childhood and making it out of the shit. Both women have earned their career success – Sanne as a detective with a major crime squad and Meg as a doctor in Accident and Emergency – and the overlap of their professions brings them into close contact at work as well as at home. They’re occasional lovers, best friends and confidants, and their relationship tiptoes along the edge of commitment, thanks to a mutual fear of buggering everything up.
For my shift-addled brain, remembering to put knickers on in a morning can be enough of a stretch, so keeping track of continuity details across two novels has required an extensive series bible, timeline, cast list, and the occasional map. As an avid series fan, I know that there’s nothing more annoying than an author who can’t be bothered getting it right, and that there’s always someone out there who will spot an inconsistency. Fortunately, lists, facts and figures awaken the geek in me, while nothing makes me happier than twisting together plot strands, planting clues, and planning character arcs. Needless to say, I’ve been pretty damn cheerful for the past two years, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that a few folks out there will join me for the ride.