Chains that bind. No, I don't mean guy-speak for what magically happens to them with the words I do. Nope. I may be tempted to discuss how someone managed to trick me into the kitchen and then wire up one of those radio fences around it. I live in the kitchen. I only get out of it when the electricity goes off. But, that's for another day. Let's get down to business now.
Chains, franchises, series. They're everywhere. They're the marketer's attempt to capitalize on familiarity in a world filled with change and too many options.
Is it any surprise how prevalent the series has become in publishing, too? Oh, they've been around. How many library bookcases of yesteryear have collapsed under the weight of the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew and Agatha Christie? Mostly mysteries, right? You could also find a few series over in the science fiction and fantasy aisle. But romance, general and literary fiction seemed far less inundated with the concept. Maybe readers expected character changes in these genres that aren't as amenable to the old-style series. But in the last thirty years, more and more writers and publishers have found ways around that -- series can be built around occupations/professions, unique world-building, or spin-off characters just as well as the tried and true Energizer Bunny hero who keeps on going and going and going.
But do writers like writing series or do they feel chained to them? I remember reading how Terry Brooks, a fantasy author, had a horrible time ending a series. He was ready to move on -- his fans weren't. Oh, I need that problem.
I raised my hand at a Writing Q&A held in Athens, GA and asked that questions of some terrific (and delightful in person) writers: Debbie Giusti, Jennifer St. Giles, Deidre Knight, Shannon K. Butcher and Maria Geraci. To a one, they agreed that series are a liberating way to write. I was a tad surprised. I thought for sure someone would say she didn't mind doing a series but really was drooling to do something different now. Nope. Writers revel in producing series as much as readers salivate over them. We're all creatures of wonderful habit.
For the paranormal writers at the Q&A, the ideas and characters they want to explore in their created worlds needed more room than one book. Debbie Guisti enjoys using her expertise in a series centered on medical suspense. Maria Geraci uses a secondary characters and a related theme to bridge books. See, there's just so many ways to form a continuum in your work.
So, which series do you enjoy? What makes them work? And, how do you feel about writing a series?
Sign me up!
FYI -- that's Houdini, not something, um, kinky.