by Janis Patterson
Yes, that is the question! And a fairly knotty one it is. There are those who say you can’t make money writing today unless you do a series. There are others who say that series are repetitive and creativity-killers. There are still others who bore easily and on the whole find series a great bore.
Then there are people like me who believe a little of all of the above. Of course, like the Red Queen I have been known to believe three impossible things before breakfast!
Seriously, I was never a fan of series since I outgrew my passion for Nancy Drew… though I still enjoy one of her books every now and then. As I bore easily, I always want something new, new people, new places, new situations… All of my novels since the beginning a couple of decades ago have been standalones with no crossover characters.
So why am I now writing not only one, but TWO series?
I have no idea.
I have always been a pantser who has characters walk in and start dictating to me instead of being one of those lucky ones who can outline stories and create personality sheets delineating each character in the book. They are creators; a lot of the time I feel more like a simple scribe.
My first series is about Flora Melkiot, an elderly widow of a jewelry store magnate who likes to live life just as she wants and is convinced that she could be good at anything if she just puts her mind to it. Usually she is, too, despite the fact that others regard her as a menace and a meddler. One police detective called her the ‘dark side of Miss Marple.’
Flora first appeared as a minor character in EXERCISE IS MURDER. Once the book was finished and out, though, she refused to leave me alone and – Flora-like – she eventually got her way. Of course. Her new adventure is profiled in MURDER IN DEATH’S WAITING ROOM, where after what she called a minor traffic accident (only a broken wrist) she has been put by her painfully conventional daughter into a rehab facility… against her will. Of course there are murders, and it’s a lovely romp. Her next book will be called MURDER AT FIVE TO ONE and set in Las Vegas and she is nagging me mercilessly to get started on it.
MURDER IN DEATH’S WAITING ROOM released this week in ebook format at the four major retailers. There will be a paperback version available as well, as soon as I can get past some technical difficulties.
I can’t give in to Flora now, though, because I am halfway through a brand new series start called A KILLING AT TARA TWO. This is about a contract archaeologist named Dr. Rachel Petrie (no relation, as she has to tell everyone, to the famous turn-of-the-last-century Egyptologist William Flinders Petrie) who is currently on the dig of an old plantation house in Alabama. She is much less pushy than Flora, but she too is urging me none-too-gently to get her series going. As a contract archaeologist she can work anywhere, and I already have ideas for stories in Peru, Boston and Bavaria.
In addition to this I am contracted for a couple of romances as my Janis Susan May persona. These are standalones – at least, I think they are. With my demanding characters one can never be sure. Plus, a darling friend of mine is enthusiastically urging me to write my memoirs as I have led such a varied and 'interesting' life. I haven't told her yet that I can't do that because some of the statutes of limitations have yet to run out!
So many stories, so little time. Sigh.