Happy Tuesday, Reader Friends!
Thanks for stopping by to check out this Tuesday’s segment of Takeover Tuesday! Soulfully Romantic blog is being taken over by the lovie Laurie Lucking. Grab a cup of tea (or coffee) and chat with Laurie!
The Joys and Challenges of Companion Novels
Thus far in my writing life, when I come up with a story, it starts and ends within one book. I want my readers to experience the gratification of a happily-ever-after by the time they reach the last page. But while I was writing my debut novel, Common, I kept coming up with possible stories for other characters, and I just didn’t feel like I was done with the fantasy world I had created. So I decided to make it the first in a series of companion novels—books that take place in the same setting and involve some of the same characters, but where each features a different protagonist and has the complete storyline of a stand-alone novel.
There are so many aspects of companion novels I enjoy, both as a writer and a reader. It’s fun to have an opportunity to visit the same world and characters without the stress of cliff-hanger endings. There’s also a certain satisfaction in catching / creating details that hint at a future book or connect back to a prior story. As a writer, I love the flexibility to explore the storylines of so many different characters and the opportunity to demonstrate change in an individual over the course of multiple books without orchestrating a plot complex enough to extend over two, three, or more installments. Plus, companion novels provide a chance to test out different voices in each book, shedding new light and perspective on the setting and cast of characters.
But here’s where we start to hit on the challenges of writing companion novels. It can be interesting to develop the voice of a new protagonist, but difficult to make that voice sufficiently distinctive compared with other books in the series. It also makes me nervous to think readers may not like my latest main character as much as the prior one, and thus not give the new book a fair shot. Being set in the same world adds a sense of familiarity and bypasses the need to figure out an entirely new setting. But it also means I have to abide by the same rules and history I’ve set forth in earlier books, which might be limiting as I dream up new conflicts and directions for the story to take. Visits from the main characters of previous books can be fun, but become problematic if readers aren’t happy with the way the future of a favorite character is portrayed. Additionally, it can be tricky to narrow down which secondary characters’ stories are worth exploring—as much as I love my Tales of the Mystics series, I will want to move on from it someday, so I can’t afford to give every interesting secondary character his or her own book!
For writers, I would recommend giving companion novels a try if you like the idea of a series but are overwhelmed by the prospect of outlining one major plot that spans multiple books. Just make sure to be forward-thinking in your world-building and character development so you can make them work for the entire series! For readers, companion novels can provide the perfect balance between the satisfaction of a stand-alone novel and the opportunity to revisit a world you love. Some examples are the Tales of Goldstone Wood by Anne Elisabeth Stengl, the Books of Bayern by Shannon Hale, the Hagenheim series by Melanie Dickerson, the Bradford Sisters Romances by Becky Wade, and the Carrington Brothers series by Sarah Monzon.
Do you enjoy writing and / or reading companion novels? If so, what are some of your favorites?
About the Author
An avid reader since birth (her parents claim she often kept them up late begging to hear just one more story), Laurie Lucking discovered her passion for writing after leaving her career as an attorney to become a stay-at-home mom. She writes young adult fantasy with a strong thread of romance, and her debut novel, Common, released on February 14, 2018, from Love2ReadLove2Write Publishing. Laurie is the Secretary of her local ACFW chapter and a co-founder of www.landsuncharted.com, a blog for fans of clean young adult speculative fiction. A Midwestern girl through and through, she currently lives in Minnesota with her husband and two young sons. Find out more about Laurie and her writing by visiting www.laurielucking.com.
About the Book
The Blurb: “Only one person knows of the plot against the royal family and cares enough to try to stop it—the servant girl they banished.
Leah spends her days scrubbing floors, polishing silver, and meekly curtsying to nobility. Nothing distinguishes her from the other commoners serving at the palace, except her red hair.
And her secret friendship with Rafe, the Crown Prince of Imperia.
But Leah’s safe, ordinary world begins to splinter. Rafe’s parents announce his betrothal to a foreign princess, and she unearths a plot to overthrow the royal family. When she reports it without proof, her life shatters completely when the queen banishes her for treason.
Harbored by an unusual group of nuns, Leah must secure Rafe’s safety before it’s too late. But her quest reveals a villain far more sinister than an ambitious nobleman with his eye on the throne.
Can a common maidservant summon the courage to fight for her dearest friend?”