Writing a Series.
I did not set out to write a series when I started writing sagas. People seem to think it must be more difficult and wonder why I keep on, but in fact some aspects are easier. The first book is the same as starting any other new novel, getting to know the characters, setting the background and surroundings, but the following books carry on naturally as life does for anyone moving to a new community. You get to know the people, some die or move away and new ones come along or children are born. I enjoy this continuity and following the changes, not only in the development of my own characters, but also in the changes and developments of the period in which each book is set. As my books have a farming background I like to show the developments in farming too. The good thing about fiction is the problems can be resolved and conclude with a happy ending, or at least with hope and optimism – not always the case in real life.
So what are the difficulties? It is vital to keep a note of the details of each character, especially dates of birth. I often go back to check how old a certain character will be if he/she first appeared in an earlier book, or if she has become a parent or grandparent, and how the stage in her life fits in with the period, including changing fashions. Physical details are important. Eyes can't change colour from one book to the next in the same character. Showing changing monetary values can be difficult, especially as there were big differences after decimalisation. Each book must stand alone in case they are read in a different order. There will be a continuous thread through all of them – maybe a place or character(s) or both, but each novel will have its own story, and usually a satisfactory love affair, or maybe more than one.
When asked which is my favourite series I usually believe it is the one I am working on at the time – mainly because I am "living with the characters – loving some, hating others, but developing them all and bringing them alive" – at least that is what I hope. I have to confess I am not a fan of TV soaps.
The Fairlyden novels were my first family sagas and you may wonder why I am mentioning them here. They seemed to sell well and were reprinted twice in paperback as well as hardback and large print but they are no longer available except from online book sellers and occasionally on Ebay, so I intend to upload them to Amazon and Smashwords to make them available for digital E-readers. This may take a while since I also need to get on with my new novel.
As E-books they will have different covers because the designer and publisher have the copyright for the original covers.