After publishing seventeen books, I finally tackled a series, The Red Rock, Colorado Trilogy. Now that all three books are completed, I’m taking time to think about what I’ve learned from the experience.
Living with the same characters for more than the length of a single book was challenging. I was used to dealing with one slice of a character’s life, with helping her through a specific problem and, because all my books are romances, helping her to find Mr. Right. I never gave much thought to what happened to her—or to the hero–after I wrote The End.
But, because the same characters appear in all three books of my series, I needed to consider how strong a role I wanted them to play when they were supporting rather than main characters.
The first book, Finding Sara, stars heiress Sara Carleton and rancher Jackson Phillips. While on the run from a domineering father, Sara is mugged in the Red Rock, Colorado train station. Jackson rescues her and takes her to his ranch to recuperate.
Once the main plot is underway, Jackson’s sister, Rose, and Dr. Mike Mahoney, who will star in the second book, are introduced. The reader learns that Mike and Rose had a relationship but are now estranged. However, I do not reveal why they broke up. My intention was to pique the reader’s curiosity and heighten interest in reading Book 2, Loving Rose.
Also introduced in the first book are Molly and Buck Henson. Buck is Jackson’s ranch foreman. Buck and Molly’s problem escalates in Book 2, again to encourage interest in reading Book 3, Marrying Molly.
When bringing supporting characters into the foreground, a careful balance must be maintained, so that they do not overshadow the main characters. I hope I achieved that balance.
Another consideration with continuing characters is having them change and grow. For example, in Book 1, Sara Carleton is rather lost, as far as knowing who she is and what she wants in life. Marriage to Jackson helps to ground her and give her life focus and purpose. Book 2 finds her a new mother and a businesswoman. She also becomes a bit of a matchmaker, which causes problems when her efforts meet with resistance.
After resolving her situation in Book 2, Rose is able to move on as well, both in her personal life and in her career. She and Sara mentor and support Molly as she deals with her problems in Book 3.
Although writing a series presented challenges, the journey was satisfying and rewarding. I didn’t want to say good-bye to the characters, even after three books. Maybe that was why, at the end of Marrying Molly, I hinted at a new couple. Will there be a Book 4? I don’t know, but it’s tempting!
Linda Hope Lee writes contemporary romance, romantic suspense, and mystery novels. She is more “pantser” than plotter, which allows her to discover the story as she puts words on the page. When she’s not writing, she’s busy creating pictures with watercolor, colored pencils, and pen and ink. She lives in the Pacific Northwest, where many of her stories are set. Visit her website at: http://www.lindahopelee.com