In honor of Independence Day I offer a question that most of us discover the answer to after writing for several years. Some writers begin with a series and stick with it. In each installment the protagonist, professional or amateur, investigates a crime and finds the culprit. Variety is found in the recurring minor characters who populate the established setting and those who appear as part of the particular mystery. In contrast is the writer who writes a few books in one series, writes a stand-alone, switches genres, and generally wanders from form to form, series to series, exploring and discovering.
Each approach to writing has its pluses and minuses. The writer who begins and sticks with one series character brings the reader into an established and known world, with old friends reappearing in new situations and more quirks in the main support figures. These books have enormous appeal for the way they take us into lives of people who come to seem like friends. Deborah Crombie has written fourteen Duncan Kincaid mysteries (with a fifteenth in the works), and readers eagerly await her next story and the chance to revisit "old friends" Duncan and Gemma.
In contrast Laurie King has written three series and four stand-alone novels. Most mystery readers are familiar with the Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series that catapulted King to fame. The Kate Martinelli series brings readers back to California and the police procedural. The Stuyvesant and Grey books take the reader to Paris in the latest installment.
Aside from the sheer number of books these writers manage to produce, both are exploring crime and its aftermath in similar ways, going deeper into the lives of those affected as well as those investigating.
Which type of writer are you? Do you have one series and intend to stick with it over as many as twenty or thirty titles? Or do you like to explore different places and topics through different series characters as well as different genres?
Since I raised the question, I should answer it also. I began the Mellingham series with Murder in Mellingham (1993), and the sixth, Last Call for Justice, appeared in 2012. I introduced Anita Ray, an Indian American photographer living in South India at her aunt's tourist hotel, in a short story in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine in 2003. The first full-length Anita Ray mystery, Under the Eye of Kali, appeared in 2010. The third in the Anita Ray series, For the Love of Parvati, appeared in May 2014.
I admit that I like switching back and forth and seeing similar problems from different perspectives, cultural as well as personal. I enjoy exploring the New England world, life along the coast and its special problems. But I also lived in India and have a great passion for exploring as much as I can of that world. In addition, I've written a number of short stories about a village in a rural area of New England. One story is available, Love Takes a Detour, with others to follow.
Now it's your turn. Which kind of mystery writer are you? Do you focus on one series, or do you try different things, different series characters and different genres?
To find Susan's novels, go to http://www.amazon.com/Susan-Oleksiw/e/B001JS3P7C
To learn more about Susan and her work, go to www.susanoleksiw.com