Saturday, July 12, 2014

The difficulties in starting a new series

At the beginning of the year I had the opportunity to write a series I’ve been working on for some time. A new series of historical romances. I haven’t written anything quite this all-encompassing since Richard and Rose, but unlike that series, this has a different hero and heroine in each book.
But the premise is important for the whole series. That means it has to be consistent and rigorous. There’s a lot of hard work goes into doing that and in a historical, it’s important to keep it believable—getting the historical details believable and right.
In the Emperors of London, this included a Jacobite theme. I’ve done a lot of research on the Old Pretender and his children, mainly because I was interested. The plethora of romantic stories about Bonnie Prince Charlie, the songs and lore, led to looking at the real stories, the accounts of the disillusioned, wife-beating drunk that the Young Pretender turned into so quickly after Culloden, and the character defects that were there from the start.
Which led to the all-important “what if?” idea that triggered the writing of a series instead of one book or a trilogy. And when the idea came, the other elements fell into place.
But I had to work out what happened to the other characters in the stories and what their specific, particular stories were. Because a one-note series can be awfully tedious. Each character has to have his or her specific issue and problem, and they come from a variety of backgrounds.
All these needed working out, so they  could blend in together and make a coherent whole. But since there could be more stories to come there has to be an open-ended element too. The first seven books don’t encompass every Emperor’s story!
The publisher, Kensington, wanted an outline for the whole series. They wanted to contract them all, so I had to provide an outline and a premise. I usually work to a plot, but the plot doesn’t always work out by the time I’ve done, so doing this was very challenging.
I found it easiest to work from the backbone of the series, and work out  what each hero and heroine have to do with it. They must have different motivations, or the series would be in danger of becoming one-note. I did find it useful to do that. However, the theme had to be consistent.
Luckily, they didn’t want titles all at once, because my angsting over titles is famous among editors! But now I’m writing the third book, it’s all falling into place so beautifully it’s like it’s pre-ordained!
ROGUE IN RED VELVET, the first Emperors of London series will be available in ebook from 4th August and in print in the autumn.


Elizabeth Hawksley said...

Gosh, Lynne, what a challenge - doing an outline for the whole series! But it must have been fun, too, especially once you'd got your 'backbone' sorted.

Well done, you!

Melinda Hammond/Sarah Mallory said...

Love the title, Lynne, and the premise.