Writing series is a wonderful thing. It’s what I do and I do it for many reasons. One, I love large casts of characters so it’s easy to build that and keep it manageable over years and many stories. I like to write about what happens after the end of a book. To check in on a couple after their HEA to see them in many stages of their lives together.
I also love to write saga style stories – friends or family based. And the ability to tell larger stories about community is what I love best.
The Brown Family novels are such stories – not a huge meta story arc like say my Bound By Magick books, but the meta story of this group of people. I started with Erin and at this point all the Brown siblings are married and have kids, they’re all at different points in their lives and careers. The story can be richer for that. And for readers it’s nice to be able to give a glimpse of Brody as a dad to a nearly teenager and a toddler and that sort of thing.
The thing is with series like this is that the world gets bigger each time so while you could read one of the books out of order and understand that couple and their HEA, you’d be missing backstory. One of the plusses to series like these, though if you like to read out of order it could be a drawback as you won’t know the story of that couple out to dinner with the couple the story is about.
When I started the Chase Brothers series in 2006, I didn’t really know what it would turn out to be. I began to write a book about a sheriff and a school teacher, but the sheriff was sort of a dick and the school teacher was like, no thank you and ended up with his brother instead.
That the series turned out to be as popular with readers as it has been is such a wonderful joy to me. That with each book it gained more love, each couple has its own defenders and each story I was able to tell about small town life gave a glimpse of an idealized Main Street, yes, but of real people living real lives there.
So when I ended it, I was sad, but it had been a good run. Everyone got their HEA. I went out when readers were happy and not saying, “Oh my god why didn’t she quit three books ago?”
But Petal has never been far from my mind and when I got an idea for Nathan Murphy and a reunion/second chance with and old love, I wrote it and the first in the Petal, GA series came out.
The Petal books aren’t so much tied to one family or one group of friends, but the town and the lives of all the people who pass through it on a regular basis. I’ll come back as I get ideas for stories I want to tell. Some will be about the Murphys as they’re so much fun to write. But others will be about different characters, some you know already and some you don’t.
Readers first met Beth three books ago in Making Chase and I’ve wanted to write her story ever since she appeared on the page. Her story, much like her family, is rooted in some harsh realities. The Murphy kids, as we learned in Making Chase, had an abusive childhood. It’s formed them all as adults, as such things do. It’s made her resilient and brutally honest in ways she’s old enough to understand and accept. It made her dialog so much fun to write, even as she broke my heart sometimes.
Joe? Well he’s got his own crosses to bear. A past where he was sort of a wild guy and wasn’t the best son he could have been. He’s back in town to make up for that with an ailing parent. He’s trying to be better and that’s sort of, to me, what all my HEAs are. No one is perfect so the key is, are you trying to be better? He is, though he stumbles with Beth a few times. But don’t worry too much, remember that resilience and blunt honesty I mention above.
I’ll be back to Petal next year. Most likely with Royal’s story. In the meantime, I hope you all enjoy this little glimpse of the Chases and Murphys and Main Street.
For more information about all of Lauren’s series, visit www.laurendane.com. And for a chance to win Once and Again and Lost in You, just leave a comment below. Good luck!