Sunday, 1 November 2015

Secrets from a Series Writer

Weird Stories Gone Wrong
The following is an excerpt from my guest blog post on Dundurn's website last week:
"5 Secrets from a Series Writer
I’ve been lucky enough to create two middle-grade series:
The Lost Gargoyle series (2009-2012) and Weird Stories Gone Wrong (2014-2016). Readers often ask if I plan my series from the start. The answer? No in the first case, yes in the second.  
Here are a few more thoughts from the series-writing trenches:
When does it end? I’m pretty sure that every series-writer asks themselves this. Personally I think if your characters have a deep back story, if you’re disciplined about tone and style, if your publisher wants more … you can dance with your characters for as long as you like, until one of you dies or develops carpal tunnel syndrome.
The horrors of catching up the reader. We’ve all read books that laboriously fill us in about earlier installments in a series (hello, J.K. Rowling!), or books that leave you no clue to what’s going on if you happen to start the series in the middle. Which is worse? I’ve decided less catch-up is better than too much. Hopefully readers will go back to earlier books to fill themselves in.
The Lost Gargoyle Series
The creativity myth. Kids often ask me how I come up with ideas. The character of a lost gargoyle that followed me home popped into my head one day in an antique store full of gargoyles. My horror stories for kids have been brewing in my imagination my entire life. So creativity seems to be a mixture of inspiration and life-long noodling in my case.
How many characters is too many in middle-grade?  Personally, I like to get to know the main character really well as a writer, so my series tend to focus on one or two main characters and 4-5 secondary characters in each book, although main characters may change throughout the series, like tag-team partners."
You'll find the rest of the guest post, and the answer to my final secret, How to Choose a Series NameHERE.
A few more secrets ...
The third book in the Weird Stories Gone Wrong series comes out next summer. It's Carter and the Curious Maze, a time-travel installment in this middle-grade horror series. This is by far my favourite cover of all time, thanks to Shawna Daigle for her talented illustration work.
AND (drumroll please) ... there is a SEQUEL to my Red Maple nominated title The Strange Gift of Gwendolyn Golden coming next year. That series is now called "The Night Flyer's Handbook" and more on that soon. I'm pretty excited about this book, it's weird, interesting, with a big story, my biggest to date.

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