Today while on Facebook, I mean working, I saw this conversation by two women who are voracious readers. Also two women I hold in very high regard. My favorite parts are in red.
Post by Dru:
I had a smile on my face and a chuckle in my throat while sitting on the subway reading. It is so worth it when Eve Dallas is left alone with Bella. Priceless. She does manage to get through it intact.
Convo that followed:
Judy: Eve or Bella
Judy: Which title are you reading? I know I'm a couple books behind.
Dru: Eve. I'm reading Obsession in Death.
Dru: Actually it could be Bella as well.
Judy: I listen to these on audio. I love the narrator, Susan Ericksen.
Dru: What book are you up to in the series?
Judy: I'm finishing up Thankless
Dru: That was a good book.
Judy: They all are. I never remember the crime, I read for the characters.
Dru: Same here
Dru: I love that point where Eve goes "gotcha" and she's one step closer to her prey.
Judy: Like Evanovich, her characters tend to do the same things and are put in the same situations, but for some reason I love when it happens in the 'in Death' series.
Dru: Love my Stephanie Plum series and for the same reason.
Judy: I like the Evanovich's, I love the Robb's.
Dru: I believe these are my two longest running series that I still read. Kate Collins and Margaret Maron follows.
Judy: I have not read Kate. I have several of her books. Love Margaret.
Judy: Evanovich can still make me laugh out loud but she's no longer a 'must read on pub date' author.
Dru: I still like to read Evanovich sooner than later. What are you reading now?
Judy: Reading The Darling Dahlias and the Naked Ladies by Susan Wittig Albert. Listening to Criminal by Karin Slaughter.
Dru: Love Karin Slaughter
At first it made me happy because clearly these two love the written word and I just adore conversations like these. My second thought was yes, I too grew a little tired of Evanovich and the same situations repeating book to book. Unlike Judy and Dru, I stopped reading. (In my case, it had to do with my very limited reading for pleasure time. If I had won the lottery last night, I could read as much as I wanted and Evanovich would make it back on the list.)
This connects well with a book I presented to acquisitions this morning. Book one did very well in both sales and critical reviews, but book two dropped off in both areas. Book three is currently in production. I presented book four because I want to continue with the series. So this is what I am faced with – what keeps readers coming back? How do you develop a series and/or the characters, that the reader puts it in the “must read on pub date” list?
To me it’s a complicated answer. For example, you know exactly what you are getting with Janet Evanovich - light, funny, and plenty of awkward situations for Stephanie Plum. But take Karin Slaugter. In her books, you have no idea what is going to happen to her characters. People get killed – violently and sometimes graphically on the page. In a way, you still know what you are going to get – a story that explores relationships, human nature, and the depths of love and hate.
I think for me, I continue with a series because of characters. I need an emotional connection with the character and the plot is a tool to learn more about them. So what do you think? Are you in it for the plot only? Is it the characters that keep you coming back? Something else?