Jumping the Shark – The Delicious Dilemma of Writing a Series 11


Meet 
AJ Llewellyn

As I write this blog, I’m putting the finishing touches to my latest M/M erotic mystery novel, “Mated” (book 4 in the Mingo McCloud series) coming to www.eXtasybooks.com September 15. Mingo and his lover Francois have become two of my favorite characters to write and I’ve loved creating this series in which Mingo is involved in criminal cases but not as a cop, private eye or attorney. He’s a mild-mannered forensic accountant.

His occupation is one that came to me after watching an episode of “Forensic Files.” A forensic accountant was interviewed regarding a woman’s homicide. I’d never heard of this occupation and tracked down the man in question. I’ve been bugging him ever since, especially since the Mingo and Francois books have been selling so well.

Since the first book, “Wanted“ came out in January, I’ve been blessed with great reviews and wonderful emails from readers. Its success spurred book 2. I asked some of my readers for book title suggestions, and Silver Pixies, herself working on a werewolf novel, suggested “Needed”.

“Bonded” the third Mingo book came out two months ago, the title suggested by another reader, Judie Stewart. Both Judie and another reader, Teresa, suggested “Mated” for book 4 and like Silver and Judie did before, they will receive a dedication in the book and free copies when it’s published next week.

It struck me that in writing a series where readers are attached to characters that authors can go one of two ways. In her long running “Stephanie Plum” series, author Janet Evanovich made a decision at the start to never let certain elements in her books change. She has said many times that the character of Grandma would never die. Neither would Stephanie’s hamster, Rex. Her torn feelings for good cop Morelli and bad boy Ranger will never be resolved, and so on…

Though there is a comfort in that knowledge when you crack open a Stephanie Plum book, the formula for me, has started to wear thin. I mean I sure don’t wanna see Rex snuff it, but frankly, after sixteen books her series is getting well, stale. Janet must have been listening to some of the criticisms though because in her latest installment, the bail bonds company where Stephanie works, closes down. This opens the way to interesting new employment in book 17.

This got me thinking.

How far does one go in a series? For me, the stories must evolve. In my M/M paranormal “Phantom Lover” series for example, the characters of Kimo and Lopaka are now married with three children. There is now also a spin-off series featuring the children, “Children of the Rainbow”.

With the Mingo series, I felt that Mingo and Francois shouldn’t rush to the altar and they won’t, but I do chuck them into one scary situation after another…and the two men into each other’s arms, often. Though I base my fictional crimes on real events, I give my own take on it and bustle the guys off onto the next wild ride.

In the last book, “Bonded”, Francois revealed he had a son, a 13 year old firecracker named Ferric who now lives with them in Maui. This is the plotline of Mated:

Mingo and Francois thought they’d be safe from catastrophe in beautiful Connecticut but even on the mainland, Hawaii’s hottest crime-fighting couple can’t stay out of trouble…

Mingo McCloud, his lover Francois and Francois’ son Ferric are in Hartford, Connecticut for their best friends’ wedding. Mingo and Ferric are carjacked on the way to picking up the brides’ wedding cake. Francois, furious that he wasn’t there to protect his family, drops the super-secret case he’s been working on to take Mingo and Ferric for a quick, sun-drenched trip to his birthplace of St. Martins in the Caribbean.

Unbelievably, Mingo and Ferric encounter the same two men who carjacked them in Hartford…and it soon emerges that they are connected to Francois’s latest security case. Francois is now hell-bent on revenge, whilst Mingo must deal with long-dormant feelings for his ex-lover Kaolin who is on vacation in St. Martin. He wants Mingo back and will do anything to win his heart…even to marry him. But there’s another guy hovering too, hunky FBI agent Sage Brantley, who wants another hot threesome with Mingo and Francois. Who will die? Who will get bedded? Are Mingo and Francois fated to be mated…and, were the carjackers’ guns made in Taiwan?

How about other authors and also, more importantly, readers? Do you ever feel a series jumps the shark with outlandish new developments or do they not even attempt to skirt the shark’s razor sharp teeth?

Which do you prefer? The knowledge that nothing changes when you visit your favorite characters or do you prefer the chance that maybe something drastic will bite them in the butt?

I really want to know. I’m inclined to enjoy both but as an author, I adore sharks and I guess I like to flirt with danger. On the page at least, it keeps me out of trouble.

So please give me your opinion. I really want to know. Leave a comment. Best response wins a free ebook from me!

Aloha oe

A.J.

www.ajllewellyn.com

www.facebook.com/aj.llewellyn

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www.twitter.com/ajllewellyn

Mated: Coming September 15 to www.eXtasybooks.com

Page link: http://tinyurl.com/2ay9ctf


11 thoughts on “Jumping the Shark – The Delicious Dilemma of Writing a Series

  • Anonymous

    Oh, I think it's all the more exciting when something occasionally comes and bites our beloved characters on the butt!!! Hehe!!!

    Valerie
    in Germany

  • Silver Pixies

    AJ-

    OMG you made me cry darling!!! That was the sweeties kindest and most special thing i have had happen to me since you dedicated the second book to me.. I have said it before an i say it again you are a Diamond in the rough!! Your A wonderful writer, a wonderful mentor, and i am privileged to call you a friend…

    Thank you

    Silver Pixies

  • Kei

    I'm middle of the road when it comes to things like that. I feel that certain common elements are necessary in a series. Primarily the characters themselves should be consistent with themselves. But growth is a consequence of living, so some change is inevitable/required. I don't want to read a formulaic plotline where only the names have been changed… Give me something new, but don't make it come from out of left field make it part and parcel of the characters' lives.

  • LindaC

    I don't mind the characters being bitten on the butt by life, but I like the relationship to be true to each other. Let them work things out together.

  • Silver Pixies

    As for what i love in a book.. I have always loved your sense of adventure and need to keep things real.. No matter what you write about you are telling us about things in the past that influence our futures.. The stories you tell about Hawaii and surround islands are and will always be some of my Favorites… I love the need to get them into trouble and the wonder inventful ways they find to get themselves out of it… I love both the fact things bite them in the butt and how they can skirt around the danger… you have always has a way of spinning a tale that could make the more Dull thing interesting (NOTHING you have ever written has been Dull just saying you could if needed)… No matter the story if your name is on it i know its going to be insightful, super sexy and exciting.

  • Beth

    I like series that have the characters changing and growing. I have actually stopped reading a series that I loved, for the first couple books, when the rest of them just started feeling like I was reading the same story over and over.
    Good example is something you mentioned in the post. Who ever heard of a 16 year old hamster?
    Some things have to change for the story/series to be believable.

  • joann

    i love the series and i love mingo and france. they are good together i hope there is a number 5. this time its should be about mingo he gets kidnapped or about his past. its good to read a good book over and over again

  • AJ Llewellyn

    Hey everyoe thank you for your comments! Joann I love the idea for book 5 – lol the brain is working on it already.
    Beth, you are right about the hamster.
    Silver, big hugs hon and finish that book will ya?
    Judie, love ya back.
    Valerie, Kei and Linda…I like the butt-biting factor too.
    Thanks for the comments. I will let the delightful Leah pick a winnder first thing tomorrow 🙂

  • jsquilter

    Hey, AJ! I guess I'm too late for the contest, but one of the things I've always loved about the Phantom Lover series is that you've kept us readers on our toes. And I also like the fact that it's not always Kimo and Lopaka who get in trouble — there are other characters who play important roles and have interesting lives too. I'm behind on this series, but I've loved the first two books. Things definitely need to change to keep the characters realistic and interesting! Real life is never boring…

    Jen xoxo

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