One of the questions I am most often asked is “Why do I write series?”. The simplest answer is that the characters have more of their story to tell. I want to know what happens to them after I finish the book. What do they think and do in the world I have created? What are the problems? Their solutions? Who else is in that world? I want to meet them. Back to the computer, I go just to revisit that world.
Not being a writer who works from an outline, I rarely know I have a series in the making until it shows itself in the first book. Certain characters or plots will keep pushing for more dialogue, more room to expand. To do an effective series, a writer must have characters that engage the reader AND a concept that can carry more books, books that can stand alone or be read out of order and still make sense.
The first part, the character engagement, is often easier to attain than the second. Think of the famous series, Harry Potter. It is a great example. Agatha Christie and her character, the detective Hercule Poirot, is another example that has more than stood the test of time. Both of these series have fantastic characters with great depth, interesting settings, and strong plots.
In the Live Oak Series, Archer and Alex intrigued me with their ideas of how to help their community and county step into the twenty’first century. Miranda, ‘Randi’, caught my interest with her disguise and her courage. Lucy, her best friend, was a shock when she appeared. So was the stalker. Live Oak itself, the way the town became a type of character in the story, just opened doors for new plots.
Playing with Fire followed, highlighting Lucy’s struggles with city life versus country. That topic is very much a part of today’s life. Many people are easing out of the heavily urban lifestyle for the simpler country living
Strike the Fire, the third book, deals with the reaction the town has to progress and the amazing way the community pulls together, neighbor helping neighbor, in a natural crisis. Lydia and Max are drawn into the fabric of the community when they risk their lives in hurricane aftermath and offer any and all resources at their command to help the town rebuild.
In Catch the Fire, the progress of Alex and Archer’s plans for Live Oak are unfolding, the town is rallying to the idea while Randi and Archer, Lucy and Alex, Lydia and Max evolve as couples. The weddings of the first two are coming closer while the newlyweds Lydia and Max deal with marrying their very different lifestyles. RJ and Nancy enter the picture as more than Lydia’s second in command and Lydia’s construction crew chief. An abused and neglected child, a small dog near death, and once again, Live Oak becomes part of the story as country heart, soul and justice are strong enough to protect the child and embrace the newcomers willing to do anything to help the little girl.
In this series, I am trying something new for me. Each book begins very close to the point in time where the one before ends. Part of the reason for this idea was the comments I have heard on other series I have done. The second reason is I like the challenge of linking the books in this way.
Catch the Fire ends with a wedding. If you have been following the series, you may already know who will tell the next story. Or you may not. There are at least two more books in the future although a number of you who follow Archer and company are lobbying for Honey’s book. I’m thinking about it. I promise. I will have to wait and see what she says when she grows up.