THE CRAFT OF WRITING – AUGUST 2023
I’m excited to continue this year on the CRAFT OF WRITING BLOG by focusing on authors who write series. Last month I interviewed an author writing his first series. This month I’ve gone to the other end of the spectrum, and I’m interviewing a master craftsman in the series-writing area, Patricia Bradley.
Patricia has written three series, and is currently working on the first book in a fourth, so she has a wealth of information and advice for the rest of us.
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Once again, we’ll do a drawing for a beautiful hand-crafted pen made by my good friend, author and craftsman, Steve Hooley. (Look for Steve’s comment about the history of the pen in today’s post.)
The name of each person who enters a comment today will be put into the drawing, and I will post the name of the winner after 9 o’clock pm CDT tonight. So join the conversation and earn a chance to win. Many thanks to Steve for donating the pen for today’s post.
Former winners are excluded from the drawing. (But not from commenting!)Multiple award-winning and best-selling author Patricia Bradley shares her insights for writing series on The Craft of Writing Blog. Click To Tweet
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Welcome back to the Craft of Writing blog, Patricia Bradley, and thank you for joining us!
Thank you for inviting me! I love being on your blog.
What was your first series, and why did you decide to write it?
My first series was the Logan Point series, and Shadows of the Past is the first book in it. In fact it is my first published book and when I wrote it, I wasn’t thinking series. I was thinking, God, just one book…that’s all I’m asking. That shows how great our God is—I was thinking one, He was thinking three, which is what my first ever contract was for. I sent in two paragraphs describing what the other two books would be about and they accepted them. Then they added a fourth book.
I will add that none of the other books ended up being what I submitted. As I wrote one book, a minor character would demand to have their own story instead of the one I proposed. But my editor was fine with that.
As for why I wrote that first book, I’d taken a break from writing fiction in 2001 to work fulltime in the abstinence program. While there, I co-wrote an abstinence curriculum and a workbook, and never had a fiction thought in those eight years. Once those tasks were completed, I cut back to part time, and one day a woman popped in my head and told me someone was trying to kill her. I was ecstatic that I could kill people again…well figuratively. And that was the first book in the Logan Point Series.
Can you tell us about the other series you’ve written?
After Gone Without a Trace, the third Logan Point book, my editor asked if I wanted to send in a proposal for another series. Is the sky blue??? I love cold cases and proposed a four-book series set in Memphis, and my editor accepted, and the Memphis Cold Case Novels were born. Again, I went off script and used only one of the ideas in the proposal.
When I proposed my third series, The Natchez Trace Park Rangers Series, I envisioned writing a story set around the Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee part of the Natchez Trace, but my editor fell in love with the idea of it being set in Natchez. Not a problem. I’d never been to Natchez and I immediately thought Research Trip! I visited Natchez four times, loving every minute.
You’re beginning a fourth series now. Tell us what this one is about.
The Pearl River Series is set in the Cumberland Plateau near Chattanooga. I love the mountains and was familiar with the area since my sister lives near Chattanooga. Alexis Stone is a detective in Chattanooga when the first book, Counter Attack, begins. Her goal is to become Chattanooga’s first female chief of police, but takes a temporary (she thinks) side road to Pearl Springs in Russell County, after her grandfather, Sheriff Carson Stone, has a heart attack. He asks her to become his chief deputy. Here’s the back cover copy:
No sooner has Alexis Stone been sworn in as the interim sheriff for Russell County, Tennessee, when a serial killer dubbed the Queen’s Gambit Killer strikes again–this time in her hometown. Pearl Springs is just supposed to be a temporary stop along the way to Alex’s real dream: becoming the first female police chief of Chattanooga. But the killer’s calling card–a white pawn and a note with a chess move printed on it–cannot be ignored.
Pearl Springs chief of police Nathan Landry can’t believe that his high school sweetheart Alexis (he refuses to call her Alex) is back in town, and he can’t help wanting to protect the woman he never stopped loving. But as the danger mounts and the killer closes in, can Nathan come through on the promises he makes to himself to bring a killer to justice before it’s too late.
I’m now working on the third book in this series, and I’m talking with my agent about where to set the next one, assuming my publisher will want another series from me. I already have a heroine in mind and she’s an investigative reporter and a minor character in the Pearl River series.
How do you keep a series fresh after readers become familiar with the stories?
I’m not sure I have the answer to that question. After Counter Attack, each book features different protagonists with the characters in Counter Attack playing secondary roles, so the reader becomes acquainted with new characters. And every book has a different crime.
How do you handle the situation where a reader jumps into the middle of a series without reading the first book?
All of my books are stand-alones, although there are spoilers in the later books. A stand-alone is a book that doesn’t require a reader to have knowledge provided in a previous book. Each of my series is connected mostly by the setting, and I think it helps that there is a fresh crime to be solved with different characters.
What advice would you give an author who’s considering writing a series?
Keep a series bible with the pertinent information about each character and the setting. I write in Scrivener, and the program has all the characters where it is easy to look back and check details like eye color, age, that sort of thing. Before I had Scrivener, I had a spread sheet where I kept that information, but that meant I had to leave my writing page to go look it up unless I’d printed it out. Which I never seemed to remember to do.
Where can we find out more about you and your work?
You can find out more about me on my two websites: patriciabradleybooks.com and https://ptbradley.com, where I have blog twice a week. On Tuesdays I have a mystery question for my readers to figure out, and on Fridays I blog about books I’ve recently read. I also blog at Christians Read and the Suspense Sisters.
And you can find me at these social media sites:
Thank you, Patricia, for being with us today.
Thanks for having me! It was fun.Multiple award-winning and best-selling author Patricia Bradley shares her insights for writing series on The Craft of Writing Blog. Click To Tweet