I was on a panel about mystery writing at a conference last summer when one of my fellow authors announced, “The only way to make money writing mysteries is to write a series.”
I laughed and said, “Now I know what the problem is with my bank account!” I write “standalone” novels and create new characters with different problems for each book.
It’s not that I dislike series. Like every other reading addict I know, I love returning to my favorite characters in book after book.
But for whatever reason, my writing ideas seem to take the form of “one and done” stories.
When I was soliciting blurbs for my first adult mystery, MISSED CUE, several folks commented that this was such a great start to my new mystery series. Mystery series? I hadn’t considered that. I was already working on my next project, a young adult novel called MISSING MOM, which features a whole new cast of characters and will come out later this year.
Still, I kept thinking about Caitlin O’Connor, the protagonist of MISSED CUE. What if I wrote a story featuring her taking on another complicated case? Her personal issues had been more or less resolved in MISSED CUE, but like all of us, she would undoubtedly experience new challenges in her private life.
As for her new investigation, I got an idea for the murder of two high school football stars whose bodies are discovered in the end zone of their football field. After doing lots of thinking and pre-writing about the victims and their world, I plunged into drafting the first chapters this past week.
To be honest, I feel like I’m swimming in the dark without my headlamp on for this new project. I’m not at all sure where I’m going or how I’ll get there.
But it feels right to keep pushing myself to try new things. And who knows? Maybe I’ll discover I’m not just a “standalone” author!