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.

http://www.mysteryscenemag.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2750:philip-marlowes-return&catid=54:reviews&Itemid=187

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?)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-QMeMkiTMjU&feature=vmdshb

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.