Let’s Talk with Karla Brandenburg

Reading a Series
By Karla Brandenburg

These days, it seems a lot of authors are writing serial books, books that keep you in a small town, or with a group of people, or with an “action hero” team. As a reader, this is a great way to string me along into future books, provided I like the first one I read.

Hearkening back to the olden days when I first found my love of reading, I read Victoria Holt. Her books weren’t written as a series, but they were formula, Collageso you got the same book over and over and over again, each with a slightly different twist. And I loved every one of them. Today, one of my favorite series’ is Lucky Harbor from Jill Shalvis. I’m not saying every one of those books is brilliant, but they are consistent, and even when I wasn’t caught up with the hero and heroine (Tara comes to mind as an unlikeable sort), I did enjoy the story. Jumping into other series by the same author, I wasn’t struck quite the same way, although I have to say she remains consistent in her presentation. It’s that formula thing. Even with an author I like, a series doesn’t always strike gold.

Some authors started a series with books that drew me in, but as the subsequent books came out, I lost interest. Outlander comes to mind. I was so captivated with Jacobite Scotland, but when the author moved the battle to the new world across the ocean, I lost interest, not only in the characters, but in what they were doing. I didn’t feel she was as invested in the story as she was when she started.

When I was writing Return to Hoffman Grove, my editor asked me if it was part of a series, orCookie Therapy if it could fit into a series. Since it was a follow-on to Living Canvas, I found myself steering that direction. I hadn’t really thought about venturing the series route prior to that, but those books seemed to want to flow together (each a standalone story). The Northwest Suburbs series was completely unintentional, and yet it was the most fun to write. When I followed up with the fourth in that same series, I discovered my readers appreciated the small town, the close-knit group of friends, so much so that while I thought Cookie Therapy might be the last in the series, I find myself wanting to write more.

I’ve currently begun a new series with a more supernatural theme. Haunted houses and ghosts. The couple in the first book each have siblings who are lending themselves to subsequent books. I’ll be curious to see how my readers adapt to the new series, and while I’m in the middle of writing the second of three that I have mapped out for the start of the Epitaph series, I haven’t discounted the idea of going back to Hoffman Grove.

As a reader and as an author, you never know where a series might lead you. You may find yourself wanting to live in that small town, wanting to be friends with that group of people, wanting to be a part of that big family. Or you might pass on the next one and move on to something else.

What are some of your favorite series books?

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Comments

  1. Same here — I’m a series reader. I think people appreciate them because they work the same way life works — your life continues with and your story revolves around a set of people. Maybe they’re not a Special Ops team…but they’re your team.

  2. I read a lot of series. Some are historical mysteries, some are scifi or fantasy. Once I’m hooked, I want to read every book available. I’ve found some new authors through Bookbub and now I’m a fan. I much prefer series to standalones. If I like the characters and their world, I want to stay with them throughout their adventures.

  3. jmjackson054 says

    I notice a lot of similarities with others, which might explain why they are best-selling authors: I did stop reading the In Death series after the first ten or twelve, but am still fully engaged with John Sandford’s Lucas Davenport and anything Michael Connelly writes. I’d also add John Lescroat to my long term list and I just started a Karin Slaughter series that I like a lot.

  4. maggietoussaint says

    Like Terry, I’m a fan of JD Robb’s In Death series. I read all of Jayne Ann Krentz’s series in the past, present, and off world. I’m a big fan of all of Charlaine Harris’s series and I also follow a few of Christine Feehan’s series. There are more series I follow, but that’s the jist of it. Except for Nora, Jayne, and Charlaine, I don’t often feel the same about all of an author’s work. The bad thing about staying so busy writing is that I have less time to read! There are so many good books out there!

    • Oh, I hear you! I take the train into the Big City at least once a week, and that’s and hour and a half (each way) of devoted reading time (I can’t write on the train). If the book grabs me, I make extra time to read at night and can often finish a book in one day, but other times (or with more on my plate) it can take me much longer because I just don’t have time!

  5. Looking at my bookshelves, it has to be the “In Death” series by JD Robb. Of course, she’s written more in that series than I think any other author of any other series has, so that’s probably why they’re taking up so much shelf space. I also love Suzanne Brockmann’s Troubleshooter series. And Linda Castillo’s Amish mysteries. And John Sandford, and Michael Connelly and Robert Crais, and … and … and. Write good characters and I’ll follow a series to find out what happens to them.
    With “connected books” which aren’t really “series” by my definition, it’s more hit and miss.