After many years of writing stand alone books, I decided to write two linked contemporary romantic suspense books. TAKEN is out this week. PLAYED hits the shelves October 2006. Both books are stand alone but there is an intriguing link between them.
I don't know why I resisted the urge to write linked books. A long time ago I had an editor who said she thought it was risky to write stories about three siblings or three friends, because if the reader didn't like the first book, she might not read the rest. Well, I think judging by the extreme popularity of linked books in the past few years that this editor was well ... wrong. But even a few years ago another editor told me she thought the trend of linked books was fading. I, however, have seen no evidence of this. I think readers enjoy getting to know a group of characters or reading about characters who are friends, family, enemies, or related in some interesting way. On the other hand, I'm sure some of us have run into series that just don't hold our interest. And occasionally we might wish there weren't two more books to get through before our favorite writer created a new series.
Certainly one of the challenges in the writing of linked books is to make sure each story is really complete. I dislike it when individual books of a trilogy feel too "thin" as if this were really one story divided into three. I personally love to make my books as complicated as possible, probably one of the reasons I resisted linked books until now. I usually throw everything into one story. But this time around I had so much material and a really interesting villain that it made sense to write two books. Hopefully the readers will agree! Another challenge in writing linked books is to make sure that the front running romantic couple is more interesting than a secondary character waiting to get their book.
So what do you think? Do you loved linked stories? Are you tired of reading trilogies? Are you more likely to buy a book because it's part of a series? Or does it matter?