I was talking to a writer friend about how to know when to end a series. I immediately flashed back to 2015, after WITH VICS YOU GET EGGROLL, the third in the Madison Night Mystery Series. I remember being at a conference and chatting with a (different) writer friend (writers tend to have lots of writer friends, mostly because we understand things like the lure of internet card games and a never-ending fascination with our Amazon rank) who asked when book four would come out. I told her I didn’t know if I was going to write a book four; I might let the series stand at three.
She seemed surprised. Was I out of ideas? Had I grown tired of the character? Did I have something new and different in mind to turn to next?
I knew what would happen next for Madison Night, and I knew who it would be with. I felt, at the time, that where I wanted to go with her wasn’t the popular direction to go. I felt VICS was a strong book and wrapped things up in a tidy bow, even if it wasn’t where I felt Madison would be long-term. So, I accepted that I had my own future for Madison that might only live in my mind.
About a year later, I realized that I missed writing about Madison. A brand new idea, one I hadn’t considered, came to me while on a vacation, and I ran with it. It was a special book in that it took Madison out of town and pushed her into some new territory. It also has a slightly different structure than others in the series. It was felt like a risk, but it was the book I wanted to write, and my publisher gave me a long enough rope to run with it.
Because I wrote that book, I’m about to publish #8 in the series. I’d never be here if I hadn’t been there. The stories that filled books five, six, and seven fell into place. Madison has many more adventures in her, and I can’t wait to tell every single one. (But first, let’s just focus on Madison Night #8, which is coming in June!)
It seems like it's way to easy to get caught up in day-to-day stuff, charging ahead without knowing where we're going. And the counterpoint to that, planning sometimes uncontrollable things to the microlevel, isn’t productive either. Here’s a case of where, having inched forward a bit with a book I never intended to write, I ended up at a place I couldn’t see five years ago. Makes me wonder what other small steps already taken will pay off in the future? And what small steps can we take today?
BOOKS MENTIONED IN THIS POST: