Thursday, August 18, 2016

How Many Books in a Series? By Paty Jager

When I came up with the idea of Isabella Mumphrey a high IQ anthropologist who not only is single-focused in her studies of Native American cultures, but also becomes a Worldwide Intelligence Agent, I had the dream of it becoming a series.  I envisioned her traveling to North, South, and Central American discovering new evidence about the cultures and working with her Venezuelan lover to uncover villains.  There are so many different Native American cultures she can investigate as ruses to travel and uncover wrong doings I could see this series lasting for a dozen books.

I had experience writing a series. Well, really writing five connecting books. The Halsey Brothers Series of five historical western romance books, hadn’t started out as a series. I wrote the first book, Marshal in Petticoats, which introduced four brothers of the hero. When that first book was published and readers wanted more Halsey stories, I one-by-one wrote each brother’s book. They weren’t thought out or planned other than the titles had to show a woman in a (at that time) man’s occupation.  That was it. All the series plotting I had ever done. 

With the Isabella Mumphrey Adventures, I knew I had to have the stories thought out and see a vision of how I wanted her to proceed not only through the books, but through her life. I sat down, researched the Native American cultures that I had always been intrigued with and penciled out the first four books, giving Isabella an overriding character arc and planning where she would be with each book and even coming up with the titles.

For the most part I stayed with the overall arc for both Isabella and the hero, Tino Constantine. But there were things that changed as I researched for each book and worked on the overall arcs. The main thing being that my original idea of four books to launch the series wouldn’t work. The third and fourth books subplots were weak. Once I discovered that, I merged parts of book four into book two and parts of book four into book three. Those mergers made books two and three stronger and got rid of the week plot for book four.

Secrets of a Mayan Moon, the first book in the series set in Guatemala, shows Isabella’s determination and love of her occupation, her dysfunctional family life, and her social awkwardness from having been a child genius. It also brings her into the arms of a Venezuelan DEA Agent out to avenge his family’s deaths.

Secrets of an Aztec Temple, book two set in Mexico City, again uses Isabella’s occupation to bring her to the city to work with a museum, but this time in her capacity as a Worldwide Intelligence Agent. An occupation she took up to be closer to her parents. In this book her emotions for Tino and her desire to right wrongs is a subplot and Tino’s need for revenge is his subplot. This book has him undercover working for the very man he wants dead to avenge his family.

Secrets of a Hopi Blue Star, book three set in the desert of Arizona, re-connects Isabella with estranged family members and shows her the reasons behind her dysfunctional family while she is searching for a sacred kiva that could explain the exodus of the Hopi to the third world. Tino’s subplot deals with doing his new job as a border patrol agent and keeping Isabella alive. While this book gives Isabella a look at her past she hadn’t known, it also opens up new questions and a desire to bring justice to her family. 

My goal with continuing the series is to keep that quest of family justice alive for a while and bring it into play in subsequent books. She and Tino will travel on more steamy adventures through South and Central American countries as well as a few more in the Southwest United States. The connecting factor between all the books in the series will be Isabella and Tino, her IQ and survival tin and vest that gets her out of tight spots, and her need to right wrongs whether it is in anthropology circles or crime. Also her Indiana Jones/MacGyver approach to problems.

Then I came up with the idea to do the Letters of Fate Series using a letter to connect the books. Not the same letter but the characters all receive a letter that changes their life. Which leaves the books to be read in any order. 
Are you a reader who likes series? What draws you to a series? 


Rose Milligan said...

I do enjoy reading series, but on occasion it is nice to read a standalone novel. Your books sound interesting. I'm headed to Goodreads to add them to my TBR list.

Paty Jager said...

Thank you for commenting, Rose. It's always good to hear what readers like. And thank you for adding my books to your Goodreads TBR list!