Monday, April 29, 2013

Mourning the Southern Vampire

The soon-to-be-released Dead Ever After by Charlaine Harris is going to be the last in the Sookie Stackhouse/Southern Vampire series. I am mourning the end of this series!
   Unlike many book series, each book in this one has a great, unique story and facinating characters. And there are so many stories that can still be told about these characters and their fictional world. So why is it ending?
   As devastated as I am to lose any series I love, I can see where some have run their course. There are a few series I used to love that I stopped reading because their story lines and characters became stale, boring, repetitive or ridiculous; series that should have ended 3 or 13 books ago.
   As a writer, I have to respect an author's decision to end a series. I am only working on the 3rd book in my series, Daylight's End, and I still have many ideas for books to come. Even so, I have no doubt I will one day come to the end of it and move on to something else, either because I think the characters and their stories have run their course or because I just want to write something else.
     A writer only has so much time and energy to devote to their art and good writers want to give 100% to any project they do. Choices have to be made. I get this.
   While I totally understand and support Ms. Harris decision concerning her work, I am sad! I look forward to each new installment of the Southern Vampire series. I have absolutely loved most of the books and enjoyed even the one or two that weren't as great as I would have liked them to be. My inner book lover is grieving.
    As a huge fan of Ms. Harris' books, this series and her previous two, I have great faith that her next project will be something awesome and I look forward to it. And to anyone not acquainted with Sookie or the Southern Vampires, you really need to meet them!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Mystery Milieus

I am a huge fan of mysteries of all kinds. And there are all kinds. Many mystery novel and series protagonists are in professions that lend themselves to crime solving: Cops, private eyes, lawyers, spies or even kind-hearted criminals. Or some less obvious jobs that bring the main character into frequent contact with murder victims, like coroner and or mortuary cosmetologist.     When I consider a lot of the books I've read, it occured to me that some settings and or protagonist professions are more suited to good story/mystery plots. On further consideration, I've decided it has little to do with any particular premise, and everything to do with the writer.
     Lots of books and series are given settings to appeal to the different interests of readers- and presumably the writer.  Some of these work really well and some not so much.
     Everyone knows that Dick Francis is my favorite author of all time and a majority of his novels take place in the world of steeple chasing and horse racing. As horses are a strong interest of mine, this appeals to me. And since horse racing is essentially gambling, it lends itself to plots of greed and treachery. However, many of his plots are written around different areas of interest for him: glassblowing, flying, meteorology, physics, etc. No matter the setting his characters are in, his books are amazing.
    I know of at least two authors - well, former jockeys who are mediocre writers - who wrote several books each about the horse racing world. I struggled to read one or two and gave up. The same is true of two authors I tried because their mystery protagonists were equine or small animal veterinarians.
    There are dozens of series written around unique interests. I know of two mystery series centered on solving crossword puzzles and at least three others set in the world of dog breeding and showing.  I am a fan of crosswords and a dog lover, but none of these held my interest.
    While many of these books might be expected to appeal to enthusiasts of certain interests, I think that has very little to do with it. For example, Gerald Brown wrote several popular books with plots that revolve around gemology. I don't know what drew me - or other people - to read any of them, but it wasn't an interest in precious stones. But I read all his books, because they were great.
     This is true of mysteries about other sports, home remodeling, Egyptology. None of those subjects are particular interests of mine (although I think most people are fascinated by Egyptology and Archeology), but I love the books.
    Any premise, however common or unusual, can work for a novel, but that won't make it a great or popular book. A book or story can only succeed if there is good writing, strong plotting and interesting, well-developed characters.