What fun! Right now I'm in between events. Last spring I hit both Left Coast Crime and the Bristol Crimefest, and Bouchercon, is coming up in September in New Orleans. In the meantime, I have a lot of reading to do! Those conferences are great ways to meet fellow authors and talk to readers--but it's also my favorite place to get ideas about what to read.
At Left Coast, I heard Donna Andrews speak. She was quite fun to listen to--so much fun that I bought her first book, Murder with Peacocks. Very good! Now I'll have to pick up the second in the series. (Review on Goodreads.)
Then at the Bristol Crimefest I heard Peter James. He'd recently won the Diamond Dagger Award. He was quite nice and funny. He was also quite engaged with the audience. I can easily understand why readers love him. And so I had to get the first book in his Roy Grace series, Blood Simple, which was chilling! Have the second book in my Amazon cart. (More on Peter James on my guest post at Oak Tree Press.)
In both cases the authors have developed quite a readership in part thanks to writing a series. Growing up, the only series I paid much attention to was The Lord of the Rings. While I read lots of mysteries, especially by Dashiell Hammett and Ross Macdonald, the books didn't follow a sequence.
As a writer, however, I'm coming to appreciate just how much readers want to get to know characters and spend time with them. It's a little like watching a TV crime series. I like Major Crimes because of the characters, not because of the plots. Those come and go in my mind--I can't remember them afterwards. But I remember the characters.
I have a lot of fun working with my own series characters. I like having a mariachi violinist who always gets into trouble. In the back of my mind I'm always thinking: what obstacles can I create for him this time! He has amiable friends who help him out, so even though I'm writing about a murder here or there, the books aren't 100% black. Instead they have thunderstorms.
What are your own thoughts about reading/writing a series? What advice do you have for writers? Right now I'm working hard to edit the next Andy book. And yes, he's found lots of trouble.... (He would claim that the trouble found him, but I'm not so sure.....)