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Out of all the literary genres, I think Mystery writers have best taken advantage of the idea of writing a series. Romance may be full of trilogies; but for a good, long run and a chance to really get to know your main character, A Mystery series is your category. If you’re a Mystery author, the opportunities for the slow reveal, as well as the stark plot twist are endless. Unknown characters-menacing or helpful-can arrive at the right time. The past knocks on your plot line, just when you need it. You can evolve your character forever, forward and back!

The Birth of the Series…

The popularity of serialized fiction-stories that developed with each edition of a newspaper or pamphlet-exploded during the Victorian era. Books were still expensive to produce, so only the wealthiest of homes had them. Literacy was burgeoning in Europe and America. Two of the most successful serial writers–Wilkie Collins, originator of detective fiction and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes—wrote Mystery. The series has been part of Mystery’s DNA since birth. Agatha Christie, the best selling novelist of all time according to the Guiness Book of World Records, wrote 66 detective novels and many short stories. Many Revolving around her iconic fictional detectives, Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple.

Although books did get cheaper to produce, the serial didn’t disappear completely. Bonfire of the Vanities originally was serialized in Rolling Stone. It lives on at hundreds of web sites dedicated to emerging authors. It evolved into what we today call a series and spans practically all forms of entertainment.

Libby Fischer Hellmann, host of Solved! is a series writer herself. She has created four different ones. Her characters Ellie Foreman and Georgia Davis both have their own stories, each lasting at least a decade. Nice Girl Does Noir and Taste of Noir round out her other series. Many of Libby guests on Solved! have mastered the art of writing the series, too. William Kent Krueger’s Cork O’Connor books stand at 17 titles. Krueger joined us for the 15th one, Manitou Canyon. Victoria Thompson talked with us about Murder on Union Square, part of her Gaslight Mystery Series. It stands at 22 titles so far.

Sara Paretsky has written 19 novels about private investigator V. I. Warshawski. Paretsky’s first visit to Author’s Voice was for her book, Fallout. It’s set in Kansas, where Paretsky spent most of her childhood. Sometimes authors get to go back in time, too!

Subscribe to our mailing list, so you don’t miss Sara Paretsky later this year. In the meantime, read Lori Rader-Day’s interview with Sara Paretsky. Rader-Day was a guest on Solved! too!

–M. Sylvia Castle