A regular customer came in to our bookshop and caught me preparing a video for YouTube about the two prequels to my first mystery novel (Timberdick’s First Case 2004), and we got to talking about readers’ fascination about “going back” in a series of novels. It’s a vice that I share and I’m not sure that it’s so much about character development (as my friend was saying); for me, it’s more about seeing the characters in strange situations and settings. I have to say that very often prequels are a bit of a disappointment, especially if they are written by someone other than the original author.
Talking of other writers taking on someone else’s character, I am usually for it. I got into something of an unsatisfactory web-debate on a Raymond Chandler blog about this. You may want to check it out. It pretty much sets out my views.
Back to prequels. When I wrote the two prequels (A Mystery of Cross Women and The Case of The Dirty Verger) I enjoyed the opportunity to develop minor characters that had appeared in the later (or is that earlier?) books. The down side was being constrained by the outcomes which I had already written into the first book (or is that the later book?)
OK Time to come clean. My main motivation was wanting to write a couple of books in earlier periods (40’s and 30’s) and I didn’t want to let down those readers who were enjoying the series. A couple of enquiries from readers (what’s the back story?) were a convenient push. (The first draft of Mystery of Cross Women was never intended for publication … no, really .. it was a book for me, to begin with.)
You knew it was coming … Here’s a link to the video that presents the three books at a Christmas Special Offer price.
Hey, don’t get me wrong. Having read through these notes, it comes across that I don’t like writing a series. Couldn’t be further from the truth … I love it. And I lap up the attention which readers give to the continuity details. I’ve not been caught out yet.