I'm late again with this, although this time I do have a passable excuse, since I've been doing battle with a rotten cold this week.
There was a great, thought-provoking Letter of Opinion last week by Janet over at Dear Author, on how things have shifted from standalone books to the series, and what sort of ripple effect this might have for both writers and readers. If you haven't read the piece yet, pour a cup of tea or coffee and go read it now. I'll wait.
You're back? Good. I found that post really intriguing, along with the questions it raised about whether the standalone novel was falling from favour, and whether we've all been conditioned, when ending one story, to look for the sequel.
I suppose it could be argued that this isn't such a modern development, really. After all, Anthony Trollope was writing his Palliser novels and Barchester Chronicles back in the mid-19th century, and Winston Graham spent over half a century writing about his Poldarks. And of course, being Canadian, I was raised on the series of Anne of Green Gables books. So it's hardly a new thing for writers and readers to want to revisit familiar, loved characters.
|Image from Fantastic Fiction|
And when a reader wrote to ask me whether Robbie from The Shadowy Horses would ever get his own book, it did get me thinking how perfectly suited he'd be for the role of The Firebird's modern-day hero. But generally, when I have finished a book, then the characters' business is finished, as well, and I'm done with both them and the story (or they're done with me—I can never quite figure out which).
If The Firebird continues the story of several of the historical characters from my book The Winter Sea, that's only because those particular characters still had one stray bit of business outstanding that wanted to be finished properly, and now that I've taken care of that for them, they've pretty much settled down into their lives (though there are one or two, still, who might not be totally satisfied, and seem a little bit restless).
But I can't help but wonder, after reading that post, if our reading (and writing) habits are actually shifting. So, what do you think? Are we losing our ability to simply let a story end? To close the final page and give a happy sigh and let the characters go, without demanding to be told what happens next? And if we are, is it a failing of imagination, or some natural desire that readers felt at least as long ago as Trollope and his novels about Barchester?
And while you're pondering all of that, be sure to come back Thursday, to read Julie's post.