I guess some writers must start their book knowing there will be more than one about the characters they’re creating. I’ve read people commenting something like ‘I’m just into chapter 3 of ‘Adventures with a Snurl’, the first book in a trilogy I’m writing’, or ‘Really busy planning my sci-fi/fantasy/historical romance/Scandi-noir chronicles, starting with ‘Cragdew’ the first of my ten novels’ I’m amazed – I know a lot of writers, maybe most writers plan what they’re going to do but really – sequels, trilogies, series? Isn’t it rather boring? What happens if you have a sudden inspiration which doesn’t fit? or characters from a different era, or action on a different continent?
I have accidentally found myself writing a series. When I first started thinking about a novel based on three brothers, I had absolutely not the faintest clue that there would be a fourth brother, that he would be the main character and that having finished the first book, to my utter surprise and astonishment I began to write another book. I don’t plan what I’m going to write, although I do a lot of thinking about it – especially when I am well into the story. I certainly don’t write the first thing that comes into my head… well, actually quite often I do, quite often, the plot takes off in a completely unexpected direction.
So how did it happen?
- Radwinter – I wrote this as a stand alone novel about Thomas Radwinter who was researching the Radwinter family history. It was intended as a way to show how anyone can find out more about their family’s past by using any of the on-line genealogical sites. Thomas’s favourite site was the fictional MyTimeMachine. It was set in 20013 at a pivotal moment in Thomas’s life, and when as an adult he began to really know his three older brothers, Marcus, Paul and John.
- Magick – it occurred to me when I’d finished Radwinter and it was out there in the big wide world, that in fact Thomas had another family history – that of his maternal side. Somehow he had become such a strong character in my mind that Radwinter seemed unfinished. There were various loose ends which couldn’t have been pursued in that first novel, so I found myself writing about the Magick family and how Sylvia Magick had met and married Edward Radwinter, and become parents to Marcus, Paul, John and Thomas?.
- Raddy and Syl – I confess, I was on a bit of a roll now, and was very much taken up with the characters I’d created – they really had taken on a life of their own. It dawned on me that although I’d written about the eighteenth and nineteenth century Magicks and Radwinters, I hadn’t properly written about Edward Radwinter and Sylvia Magick and how their children had had such dreadful early lives. Edward, known as Raddy had been in prison – that had been learned in the first book, but how had Sylvia ended up as the chaotic and alcoholic woman who her children knew, particularly Thomas who was the youngest and seen her in the later stages of her addictions.
- Beyond Hope – I was now completely hooked on the characters and their lives. There were still questions unanswered, what had happened to Edward Radwinter, known as Raddy, and issues and conflicts between the four Radwinter ‘boys’ were unresolved. During the previous three books,, as well as doing family history research, Thomas has begun to take on odd commissions from people, finding lost loved ones, solving little seemingly harmless mysteries, and one of the on-going ‘cases’ he has been unsuccessfully pursuing through the preceding books was looking for the lost daughter of a friend, a young woman who does not want to be found. This, I think was going to be the last book in the series… however…
- Earthquake – Thomas had acquired a family and because there were rather more dependents than he had expected he had to take on more work, some of which led him into unexpected places and unexpected dangers. Although he and his brothers are now back to being united and on the best of terms with each other, they all have their own problems. Thomas is the youngest, but they turn to him to to try and resolve their difficulties. This surely shourld hav been the last book in the unexpected series, but…
- Saltpans – Thomas and his wife have rather a lot of children now and their small three bed-roomed terraced house is not big enough. They fall in love with the perfect house – Saltpans, in the perfect position, with exactly the right number of bedrooms and other accommodation, except it is way beyond their budget. Characters from Thomas’s previous adventures , figure in this book, and also in an unexpected crossover from another of my books (unexpected to me, but fits perfectly with the story-line) characters from ‘night vision’ (by me) play a significant part. Readers often ask what happens to characters after the end of my books, and their lives always continue in my imagination. It’s only with the Radwinter family that those lives make it onto the page. However, Mr and Mrs Cameron from ‘night vision’, are part of the Saltpans story.
- Winterdyke’ – by now I’ve submitted to the idea that I will continue writing about Thomas, his family and other characters from the series. However, I was conscious that some readers might have become a little bored with all the domestic and family details which make up the novels and so I decided to take Thomas away from their family, send them all on holiday, and he should go to a mysterious country house to do genealogical research, and also, of course, solve other mysteries – much in the way of other books in the genre. The inhabitants are cut off from the rest of the world – in this case by a freak weather phenomenon, despite global warming there is a two week total white out, everywhere covered in deep snow.
- untitled as yet – yes, there’s another in the pipe line – an old lady disappears leaving her beloved dog behind, Thomas seems to have a double, he’s asked to find out whether a missing man really drowned at sea, and he’s back at home with all the things which happen in families
- night vision – Beulah and Neil Cameron return to his childhood home of Easthope to try and repair their damaged marriage. Neil is profoundly and wrongly jealous of Beulah’s best friend; however Beulah discovers that Neil has his own secrets which may damage their marriage more permanently. The disappearance of his fifteen year-old brother Patrick thirty years ago, casts a long shadow, and despite Neil’s opposition, Beulah is determined to find out what happened to him.
So, that’s how I came to write my series – and as for the next one, I have no idea whatsoever about many of the different narrative strands!