November 9, 2007

Guest Blogger: Karen E Olson

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The day is finally here! Karen drops by my blog on her blog tour promoting Dead of the Day. This is very exciting for me. I'm always flattered when Karen drops by my blog and leaves a comment. (She leaves great comments.) So when Karen asked me to be on her blog tour of course I said Yes!

I hope you all get a chance to check out the new book: Dead of the Day and if you haven't already, read Sacred Cows and Secondhand Smoke. You can find out more about Karen and her writing on her website. Enjoy!

One of the best things about the crime genre is the series. It began with
Nancy Drew for me when I was in fourth grade, and then when I started
reading mysteries seriously many, many years later, I discovered I didn’t
have to just read one book by Sara Paretsky or Sue Grafton. There were
several books, with the same characters! Who knew?

I love series books because I truly feel like I know those characters, and
when I’m finished with one book, I can pick up the next and follow them
through another adventure. Marcia Muller’s Sharon McCone is the
grandmother of all the modern women protagonists. Muller’s first Sharon
McCone book came out in 1977. Sharon was a private eye working for a
legal aid service at the time. Twenty-five books later, Sharon has her
own company and has just gotten married. JA Jance has been just as
prolific with her JP Beaumont series; Beau has gone from homicide
detective in Seattle to investigator with a special unit set up by the
state prosecutor, he’s gone into AA, and he’s just gotten married, too.

The best series are the ones in which the protagonists grow and evolve,
like Sharon and Beau. Although I will pick up Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie
Plum books just to see if she’s ever going to make a decision between
Ranger and Joe (I doubt it).

One-offs are getting to be more “the thing” with publishers. Mostly every
writer I know is working on a standalone, and even Muller and Jance have
veered off into this territory, too. It’s not easy writing a series,
because as a writer, you really don’t want to let the characters get
stale. I find after writing four Annie Seymour books now, it’s actually
harder to write them even though I do know exactly what Annie’s going to
say and do — at least most of the time.

One of my favorite writers, Laura Lippman, has jumped into the standalone
pool (her latest, WHAT THE DEAD KNOW, is amazing), but she still continues
to write her Tess Monaghan series in between. Michael Connelly has taken
breaks from Harry Bosch, but fortunately has not abandoned the series.
Although Dennis Lehane hit it big with MYSTIC RIVER and has not returned
to his Kenzie/Gennaro books.

Even though standalones are a trend in the crime genre right now, I hope
they don’t push the series out. I like awaiting “the next book,” finally
seeing it’s out, and bringing it home to settle in with the cats and a cup
of tea. It’s like getting together with an old friend and finding out
what’s new after a long absence.

Do you enjoy a good series, too, or are you strictly a standalone reader?

9 comments :

  1. Waving at Karen ~

    I admit I prefer series, or at least connected books, because I like that level of comfort of revisiting areas and characters.

    Good Luck with Dead of the Day! The other two books in the series rocked.

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  2. Love the Annie series -- and can't wait to read DEAD OF THE DAY! Series or standalone, it all depends on the characters and writing. There are writers like Elmore Leonard, who has such a great distinctive voice that his standalones are, in a way, a series. There's my two (or one and a half) cents.

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  3. Great topic! Thank you, Karen and Chris. I think there is room in my reading life for both series reading and standalones. They both have their pros and cons. I would hate to see series books go out of style for the same reasons you mention though. The characters become my "friends" in a way and it would be a shame to lose the ability to visit them again and again without having to reread the same book over and over again.

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  4. I think mysteries do well as a series . We get to see the character's personality through some unusual circumstances. It's a fairly brief period of time as well so we don't get bored.

    Waiting for the next in a series is tough though!

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  5. Thanks so much for having me here, Christina! And consensus seems to be that if it's a good book, series or no, people will read it. But there's something comforting about a series, hearing about characters that have become old friends.

    And I didn't even mention Harry Potter, which is one of my all time favorite series.

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  6. Chris so glad you hosted Karen on your blog. And, Karen, I love series too! I have to admit I've given up on a couple though just because the characters never seemed to grow and the plots were becoming stale/recycled. Along with your series (which I definitely plan to continue reading), I am going to check out some of the ones you mentioned.

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  7. I won't reject a book because it is a series, but I prefer a single hit. :)

    BTW: Love this review!

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  8. Sounds like a fantastic series of books! I'm looking forward to reading them!

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  9. I love both standalones and series, but I have to admit that for any kind of genre fiction, a series is my preference. In a mystery novel, a lot of time is taken away from the characters to focus on the plot, so a series allows for more character development.

    And who wouldn't want to read more books about her favourite characters?

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