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A Romantic Series of Connections: How romance authors continue their series’
by Lela Bay
Sometimes I feel like a side-character in the story of the world. I’m frequently not the center of attention, and prefer it that way. As a writer, I find it fun to speculate on the lives of those around me, but rather than investigate, I’m more likely to pick up a book where I can watch my subjects with a clear conscience.
Romance is about connections, and I enjoy books where more is involved than the bringing together of two people. Draw me a time period, a world, a family group and set of manners and I’ll gladly go anywhere with you. An author who can do that is a prize.
Avid romance readers know what a treasure it is to find an author you enjoy. It’s a pleasure to anticipate the next book—even better if you find an author a little late and can search on bookstore shelves for a collection of books that have already been published.
Publishers have their lines, but authors also indicate their series of related books. Once you’ve discovered a good author, find out if they have a good series. It turns a delicious dish into a banquet. Oh, the joy of finding such a set! It’s commonplace for authors to name their series, and I appreciate it because it makes finding related books easier and clarifies the theme.
There are different ways to relate books, for example each one might be a certain type of story. On the other hand, some authors choose to show characters, and gradually go through the group until everyone is paired up and married off by the end of the series. That is fun, because you see them as incidental or side characters until it’s their turn in the spotlight.
The book series I’m reading now is Keeping up with the Cavendishes, but Maya Rodale. What I find particularly fascinating about the series is that it not only uses a family as the center of the story—the sisters are all of marriageable age—but each book takes place over the same time period and records the same events. I’ve often thought this would be a fun writing challenge, but worried that readers would become bored of seeing events re-occur, even if they were from different perspectives. I’m only two books into the series, but I can see the fine plotting required to give each character space to have their own story happening off screen and leave room for the reader to be surprised when the time comes. In fact, it reinforces how myopic most of us are, concerned with our own lives and troubles—especially when romance is afoot. I easily believe that the heroine of the current book isn’t tracking her fellow sisters’ actions at every moment.
All-in-all, it makes me want to take up my pen (though mostly my keyboard but that sounds so much less romantic) and delve into a world of diverse characters to see who I can pair up. Everyone deserves a turn at love—even the side characters.