Many have asked me to carry the Vamp Chronicles series past my planned 7 books. While I always leave doors open, I have to admit that it’s a pretty solid decision on my part not to go beyond that number.
Some would, and have, asked why. From a business standpoint, why wouldn’t one want to cash in on something that is providing a decent paycheck, right? Well, the truth is, this isn’t a business decision that I’m making. It’s a personal one.
I have read many series that I initially fell in love with, but that have quickly lost steam; series that enraptured me only to fall flat right when I was maximumly invested. I make a point not to drag authors’ names or titles into what I post. I try to categorize books that I dislike privately, books that disappoint, as creative differences, not 1-star review worthy. I’m a writer as well. I know what goes into writing a book. I know the hours behind the final product; I understand the blood, sweat and tears, no matter how dismal I believe their end result to be.
With that being said though, in order to make my point, I must bring in a title and a name. I want to apologize to the author ahead of time as I don’t mean to offend her, shred her work or disregard the amazingness that she’s accomplished. Admittedly, I aspire to accomplish all she has.
For those of you who don’t know, I love True Blood. Before True Blood though, I enjoyed the Sookie Stackhouse series. That is a series that I was captivated by in the beginning, but, around book 5, it started to fade for me. (I won’t get into the reasons why, as this is merely my opinion and doesn’t contribute to my example usage.) I held in with the series, but started waiting longer and longer to purchase the books because they are usually higher priced in the beginning. When I found out that the final book was going to be released in the series, Dead Ever After, I rushed to finish the last few in time to purchase it. For a series that seemed to drag on so long, this was a big deal for me. In truth though, this book was my worst nightmare realized. This book was my very reason for ending the Vamp Chronicles at book 7.
I was disappointed. In many ways, the book didn’t even have the same “feel” as the previous ones. Characters were out of character, and it wasn’t entirely because they had been through something traumatic. It was, I’m sad to say, the author. And as much as I desire her success, I don’t desire her final product.
What went wrong? I feel like what went wrong for Charlaine Harris is what I’m facing now with Mel: mute characters. She had one thing that I didn’t though, one major differentiating factor: a publisher with a hard deadline. Dead Ever After reads, from my writer perspective, as a writer writing what she wants, rather than what the characters actually devised. If I had to guess, I would say that Charlaine Harris wrote the book under a deadline with no grace period, and sadly, no cooperating characters either.
Vigilante and The Break of Dawn are running behind because my characters aren’t talking as often. One of the perks of being an Indie Author though is I don’t have a publisher breathing down my neck with an ironclad contract saying make them talk or lose a big paycheck. So, I’m taking my time with them. I’m not pushing for something to happen. That’s how I’ve always written and always will. If I ever signed a contract with a publisher (again), I would ensure that the book was written, almost finished, or ensure I had a very nice cushion before the agreed upon completion date for any of my work. I value my readers, and I feel like offering you anything less than the best, than the truth, the true story from the characters, would be me failing you; I would feel like a sham, like a theif, a deceitful hypocrit. Anything that I release to the public, I make sure it feels right from beginning to end. I have several books that I’ve written and completed, but never published because I didn’t feel that they were “finished,” that they were told the way the character(s) intended. In the end, that makes me a slow author, but a genuine one. It will never be about the paycheck for me. I won’t sacrifice my soul, my conscience, for the almighty dollar at any point.
The truth? I feel like the Sookie Stackhouse series was meant to be a 5-6 book series, not a 13 book one. I feel like certain story lines were dragged out, some were far-fetched, even for a fantasy series, and others had a lot more potential. I feel like the author grew tired, possibly even bored with the series, at certain points. I feel like the author was no longer vested in certain characters the way she was in the beginning. This series sadly became what I fear the most for mine if I push beyond 7. (If I end up not writing Mel’s book, as in, she refuses to cooperate, then beyond 6.) I don’t want readers to read my series out of obligation. I don’t want readers to read my series because they feel like they owe it to the characters to at least see what happens to them in the end. I don’t want readers to walk away disappointed because I dragged the character’s journey out, fabricated their experiences or took it one step too far. In truth, I don’t think the characters do either. The truth? Sadly, I have come to enjoy the show more than the series, which is odd for me. Most of the time, I enjoy the book(s) more than the movie(s) or TV show(s).
This is merely my opinion though. It’s one of the examples behind my reasoning.
So why will I not be carrying the Vamp Chronicles series beyond my planned amount of books?
1. I don’t want to overstay my welcome.
2. I don’t want to reach a point where I can no longer connect with my characters.
3. I don’t want to end the series on a low in desperation to put something out.
4. I don’t want my books to drag.
5. I don’t want to ever reach a point where I hate a character.
6. I don’t want my books to lose their emotional edge.
7. I refuse to publish something that doesn’t feel organic to me. From the beginning, I have always said it would be a 7 book series. Compared to some series, that is a lot. It is what has always felt right to me, from the input of the characters.
8. I refuse to publish fluff. Any book beyond the seventh would be a short story because all of my characters’ story lines (barring Mel cooperates) will be rounded out by then, or at least showcased well enough for the reader to feel satisfied with it.
9. I refuse to do anything simply for the money. I could throw more series out there to prove my point with this one, but some books just shouldn’t be published. Some series should stop while they’re ahead…
10. I feel like stopping at book 7 would be me stopping while I’m ahead. I feel like readers will have had a complete journey with my main characters by the end of book 7. I feel like my writing journey with them will be complete at book 7. I’m not God. I’m not a god. I don’t know what the future holds. I only know what feels right in this moment. And, in this moment, after reading Dead Ever After, I feel like pushing beyond that number would produce the same emotions that book elicited in me in many of my readers. I wouldn’t wish that upon you.
11. But, most importantly, I wouldn’t wish that upon my characters. There is nothing more detrimental to the integrity of a character than to dishonor them, than to disregard their demeanor, their intent. There is nothing more sorrowful as a reader than to read the demise of a character, than to read something you wish you hadn’t – something that spoils the character and all you regarded them as until that point.
12. I don’t want my worst nightmare to be realized. While I’m not opposed to picking up where I left off in a series I thought ended, it will only be at the insistence, the pestering, of the characters. While I’m not opposed to a spin-off series, my experience with other authors and even TV series is: the original is always the best, and what person in their right mind would want to compete with themself like that? So, while I’m not saying a hard no, I am saying a hard I don’t plan to.
I hope you all can respect that. And if you can’t, I’m sorry, but I’m not willing to sacrifice my conscience or my characters to appease you.
There are two of my adult books, well, a short and a novel, that has received some harsh feedback. (Don’t worry. I wasn’t lying when I said that I don’t read reviews.) These books have garnered e-mails and messages directly to me with said feedback. The negativity was to a point where I considered pulling the books. Controlled Instincts was said to be too short with too many questions left unanswered and Two Times the Charm was said to be too long with too many flash backs and not enough to keep it moving while “revolving around a whining, pathetic main character.” (Yes, that is a quote from one reader, grammatical error included.)
I combed over the books several times after receiving those messages. Seeing the lower star ratings beside the books had me obsessing over them at one point. In the end, I added one paragraph to Controlled Instincts and left Two Times the Charm exactly as it was.
Controlled Instincts was meant to be a short. It is meant to read like a fantasy. What if I really did let loose just once? It is what it was meant to be: a quick, satisfying daydream of sorts.
Two Times the Charm is what it is meant to be: a genuine journey that anyone who has been through domestic violence, or who is open minded enough to allow themselves to experience the true repercussions one who suffers from it, experiences. This isn’t a light read. DV isn’t a light journey. There are days when all you have are flashbacks. There are days when you beat yourself up, wondering why you stayed, why you put yourself through that, why, why, why… This book is a book of truth. Anyone looking for a light, easy read, will be disappointed. And I think, perhaps, because of the other books in the Alpha Doms series, many were disappointed; Two Times the Charm took an abrupt righthand turn. It is part of a series that, until then, had been quick, light reads with some supernatural sexy. Perhaps it was my fault for not making the book a standalone, but, after scouring it from beginning to end many times, I’m confident that there is nothing wrong with the story itself, and there is nothing wrong with the characters.
In the end, I stand behind what I release. I’ve always stood behind what I release. And I feel like if I pushed for anything more than 7 books in the Vamp Chronicles series, that I would reach a point of regret. And no writer ever wants to regret a book. (For what it’s worth, I’m sorry to say that I feel like Charlaine Harris will probably look back with regret at some of her literary choices with the Sookie Stackhouse series…) Once a book is released, even if you pull it, the book is out there. Some things are permanent. The last thing I want is for my nightmare to have staying power.
I appreciate all of your enthusiasm over the series and my books. I can’t tell you how excited I get, how my heart flutters, when I receive your messages, comments and e-mails saying such. It is because of your investment in the characters that I stand behind my answer, and I want to thank you all for that.
And now I’m stepping off my soap box. lol
I hope you all have a wonderful evening!