By Casey Dawes, author of California Sunset and California Wine
Why do we love series so much? Whether its Catherine Coulter’s FBI, Robyn Carr’s Virgin River, or any other romance series, these are the books that people read and anticipate year after year. From my perspective there are two reasons.
The first is that the fictional place becomes familiar and feels like home. The author defines a town and the people who live in it. They create characters who we recognize and who become like old friends because we recognize them from our own lives. Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple always compared the people in her crime scene to people she knew in her village to identify the killer.
While reading a series, we can develop a connection to both the people and the world they live in. Even if the location isn’t a set place, like in the FBI series, there’s a community of people we come to know. Some of Carr’s readers are so passionate about Virgin River that they have a Yahoo group that “patronizes” Jack’s Bar, a significant place in Carr’s novels.
In my books, California Sunset and California Wine, I’ve created a world and characters that carry from one story to the next. There’s Mandy the waitress, the heroines of the two books (Annie and Elizabeth), and restaurants frequented by the characters. Since a number of these are based on real places in and around Santa Cruz County, I’ve created a list of them on my website and had a map designed by my fellow author, Pam B. Morris.
The second reason I believe people like series romance is they get to tie up loose ends. Will the couple ever get married? What will the wedding be like? Does the teenage boy ever straighten out?
Up until a few years ago, many people sent long Christmas letters to catch people up on their family doings. Year after year we lived their lives vicariously through these letters. Now we do it through Facebook. I’ve reconnected with people I haven’t seen in decades and it’s been fascinating to find out how their lives turned out. They were rarely the ones we planned in college!
A character who has a minor part in book one might have a bigger role in book two and star in book three. Many authors say that their readers want them to write “so-and-so’s story.” For my series it was a natural to have Annie’s best friend become the heroine of California Wine, the sequel. In my work in progress, tentatively titled California Homecoming, Elizabeth’s daughter Sarah moves into the spotlight.
Authors like to write series because we can gain a following for our next book. The downside is that we can get “trapped” in the series. If we write something different, our readers can demand we return to our original stomping grounds. I’ve set my novels in a place I used to live, the central coast of California. I’ve since moved to Montana and my heart is demanding a new series set near my beloved Glacier Park.
But I’m not sure I’m done with California yet! I hope you enjoy the new release in the series, California Wine.
What about you? What’s your favorite romance series and why do you like it?