Welcome to Cozy Wednesday!!
I am so excited to have Barbara Ross here today!
Her new book Clammed Up is sure to be a hit with all over you!!
The Alpha and the Omega: Continuing Characters in Series
Lori, thanks so much for having me for Cozy Wednesday.
It’s an interesting time for me as an author. On September 1, I handed in the manuscript for Boiled Over, the second book in my Maine Clambake Mystery series. And on September 3, Clammed Up, the first book in the series was released.
As you can imagine, it’s been an interesting time. In fact, as I switched on September 2, from writing to promotion mode, my mother-in-law said, “It seems like all summer it’s been Boiled Over, and now it’s Clammed Up !
Boiled Over is my first time writing a second book in a series. So it got me wondering, how do people feel about continuing characters? Not the main characters, but the other people who populate the book?
I admit to being a full-out series fan. Nothing makes me happier than finding a book I love and then discovering there are four or six or ten more to read in the series. Once I’m caught up, and have to wait a full year for the next one (as I just did with Louise Penny), it kills me.
Part of the reason I love series is because of the way characters and settings can develop over time. I’m a huge fan of Ruth Rendell’s Wexford series. I love the way Kingsmarkham, the town where her Chief Inspector Reg Wexford works, evolves from being a small market town the first book, From Doon to Death (1964) to an ever growing suburban city in the latest books. And how along the way, Wexford has to deal with increasingly complex, modern issues of race, immigration, and environmental activism—not to mention the baffling personal lives of his grown daughters. (The latest book in the series, No Man’s Nightingale is out in the UK, but won’t be here until November. I am trying to restrain myself from ordering it from Amazon UK.)
I get invested in the secondary characters, too. I spent a long time reading every Rendell short story I could get my hands on, because I was convinced there was a story in which Wexford’s faithful no. 2, Detective Mike Burden’s first wife dies. It turns out, she dies off stage. But reading all those stories was great, because it brought back my childhood love of short fiction and got me writing my own. Now I’m a co-editor of an annual short crime fiction anthology for Level Best Books. www.levelbestbooks.com
But I have to confess, there are some series I’ve given up because the author couldn’t seem to let go of a single secondary character. So every last person from the first book gets pulled into the second book and so on, until by the fourth book, I’m thinking, “Who are all these people and why does the author think I care about them?”’
In Boiled Over, I tried to use the “bar story” principle. Pretend you’re meeting an old friend for a drink, the kind of friend you can not see for years and then pick the conversation right up where you left off. You say to her, “You wouldn’t believe what happened to me!” As you tell the tale, you introduce her to all the people she needs to know about for the story, plus a few other people who were really important in your life at the time and were giving advice, and so on. You don’t tell her what happened to every person you’ve met since you last saw her. The other people in your life are presumably going about their business, and may show up in another bar story some other time, but we don’t have to talk about them now.
Plus, some readers don’t get to read the series in order. (I love to read in order, but I’ll go out of order in a pinch.) So if you have someone who was a suspect in the first book wandering through the next one, doesn’t that give it away?
How do you feel about series characters? Less is more, or the more the merrier? Let me know, because I have to start Book 3 next week!
Thank you Barbara for dropping by today! I think a great group of core characters visited by new characters each book is great but then the twist after a few books when one of those core characters gets in trouble always adds to the suspense too! I am sure my readers will help you tackle this question too!
About This Author
Barbara Ross’ novel Clammed Up, first in a new series of Maine Clambake Mysteries, will be published by Kensington in September 2013. Barbara and her husband own the former Seafarer Inn at the head of the harbor in Boothbay Harbor, Maine. From her perch on the Seafarer’s wide front porch, Barbara’s had a chance to observe the quirks of life in a small resort town, along with the stunning harbor views. Barbara and Bill no longer run the inn as a Bed & Breakfast. Barbara is notoriously not a morning person. They considered a Bed-and-Get-Your-Own-Damn-Breakfast, but there didn’t seem to be much of a market.
Barbara is the 2013 co-chair of The New England Crime Bake. She is a co-editor/co-publisher at Level Best Books, which produces an award-winning anthology of crime and mystery stories by New England authors every November. Barbara also blogs with a wonderful group of Maine mystery authors at Maine Crime Writers.
Barbara’s first mystery novel, The Death of an Ambitious Woman, was published by Five Star/Gale/Cengage in August, 2010. In her former life, Barbara was a co-founder and Chief Operating Officer of two successful start-ups in educational technology. When they aren’t in Boothbay, she and her husband live in Somerville, MA.
(A Maine Clambake Mystery)
Brand New Series
Kensington Publishing Group (September 3, 2013)
Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
E-Book File Size: 551 KB
Summer has come to Busman’s Harbor, Maine, and tourists are lining up for a taste of authentic New England seafood, courtesy of the Snowden Family Clambake Company. But there’s something sinister on the boil this season. A killer has crashed a wedding party, adding mystery to the menu at the worst possible moment. . .
Julia Snowden returned to her hometown to rescue her family’s struggling clambake business–not to solve crimes. But that was before a catered wedding on picturesque Morrow Island turned into a reception for murder. When the best man’s corpse is found hanging from the grand staircase in the Snowden family mansion, Julia must put the chowder pot on the back burner and join the search for the killer. And with suspicion falling on her old crush, Chris Durand, the recipe for saving her business and salvaging her love life might be one and the same. .
A delightful debut that has me hungry for more!!!
The story is set in a beautiful part of this country and every bit of it was clear in my mind’s eye. From the island to the ferry trip to the town of Busman’s Harbor. Sounds like a great place to vacation.
Julia’s homecoming being marred by murder is awful but this girl is up for the challenge. She uses skills she has learned while away to whittle down the suspects and it isn’t easy. She makes mistakes. She is scared and worried about losing her family business and is so real and credible. It is so easy to identify with her which makes her a great protagonist.
The supporting cast is strong as well. I personally wanted to take on Sonny. He had just given up and if Julia would not have come back the business would have been history, but his support of Julia was truly lacking. Family drama! I love it! This is a group of characters that will surprise you. Ross has filled this Clambake Mystery with plenty of red herrings!
It seems Julia and Livvie’s dad had put together a wonderful business. There will be some changes going forward but I know the family will come out on top and the clambakes will be even more popular. I am ready to buy my ticket today. Boiled Over (A Maine Clambake Mystery) will be served up May 6, 2014!
Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent
I am giving away my Advance Copy
and the author is giving away a published copy!
Contest is open to anyone over 18 years old
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Duplicate entries will be deleted. Void where prohibited.
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”