October 4th 2010
To Series? Or Not To Series?
My name is Mindy, and I’m a speculative fiction reader. (Hi, Mindy!)
In contemporary U.S. publishing, the above statement can be translated to: “My name is Mindy, and I love reading series of books.” A lot of ink has been spilled on why readers love series — familiarity with characters, immersion into the details of life in another world, the geek factor of showing off Volume 12 of some door-stop masterpiece…
I *do* love all those things. But because I’m a bit of a rebel, I wanted to try *writing* something different. I wanted to create a fantasy series where each volume could be read on its own, completely separate and independent from any other volume in the series.
My notion wasn’t new, of course. Many of our mystery-reading-and-writing colleagues do this sort of thing all the time – introduce a detective, put her through her paces solving separate mystery after separate mystery. In the romance field, “mini-series” are extremely popular, where each volume in the series tells the romance of a different couple, but all are connected through family or residential bonds.
But in fantasy? Where readers are used to long tied-together series?
Enter Teel the Genie. In my As You Wish series, Teel grants wishes to a variety of women who work in the professional theater (a stage manager, a dramaturg, an actor). Teel is the bond between each volume in the series; the genie sets the ground rules, and the basic magic of wish-granting unites the books. But each book completely tells the story of one woman’s set of wishes. Each book wraps up the entire arc of its heroine.
Therefore, any reader can pick up any book in the series, at any time.
My experiment has not yielded perfect results. I regularly get mail from readers who want me to continue the stage manager’s story, who want to know what really happens to the dramaturg on the day after the last page. But I also hear from reviewers and other readers who have picked up the third volume, TO WISH OR NOT TO WISH (now in a physical or online store near you, starting today!), who are grateful that they can jump into the story without needing to read two volumes of background material.
So, what about you? If you like reading series, why do you like them? If you’ve found other speculative fiction series that can be read piecemeal, what are they? Do you feel cheated when authors *don’t* write series in speculative fiction?
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Mindy Klasky is the author of eleven novels, including WHEN GOOD WISHES GO BAD and HOW NOT TO MAKE A WISH in the As You Wish Series. She also wrote GIRL'S GUIDE TO WITCHCRAFT, SORCERY AND THE SINGLE GIRL, and MAGIC AND THE MODERN GIRL, about a librarian who finds out she's a witch. Mindy also wrote the award-winning, best-selling Glasswrights series and the stand-alone fantasy novel, SEASON OF SACRIFICE. Visit site.
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