Author Bio of author, Julie Smith: New Orleans author Julie smith is a former journalist and the author of some 20 mysteries, including two series set in San Francisco and two in New Orleans. Her 1990 mystery, NEW ORLEANS MOURNING, won the Edgar Awaed for Best Novel. DEATH TURNS A TRICK is the first book in the Rebecca Schwartz series.
CONFESSIONS OF A SERIES HO’
Isabella’s asked me to blog on writing a series, and boy has she come to the right place! I’ve written so many series I had to change my name to Julie Series Smith. Officer, I confess! I’ve committed serial series. My name is Julie and I’m a series ho’. I recognize that I am powerless over my addiction.
I’m afraid I’ve written four in all, and I don’t think I’m done yet. Let me see if I can run it down quickly—The Rebecca Schwartz series set in San Francisco, then one with a guy, then off to another city (Skip Langdon series, New Orleans) and finally a fourth that I just couldn’t resist.
Okay, I’m powerless! Absolutely helpless. So what, exactly, went wrong in my childhood? Well, fellow Friends of Bill Wilson, let me make a fearless and searching moral inventory of myself. I think my well-meaning parents must have read to me too much—and also too little. I think they must have gotten pretty sick of “Daddy, can you just read Ferdinand one more time?” Or “Can I have Tootle tonight? Sure we just read it, but…I want more!”, and maybe cut me off before I was through with Tootle. Why wasn’t there a sequel, by the way? Once you’ve met a character you love, you want to stick with him or her—or in the case of Tootle, it, I believe. Just when are you done with a character? Did you really have enough of Stephanie Plum of Kinsey Millhone that first time out? Or did you want to see what she did with the rest of her life? We writers are just like you. We want MORE! When I began the Rebecca Schwartz series, I actually didn’t know that was what I was doing. But the publisher assumed it was a series, so there I was—like the teetotaler who gets offered a second drink. I couldn’t stop.
If I could keep writing about Rebecca, I could be the happiest person in the world, I thought, but I wanted to write about New Orleans as well as San Francisco and she really couldn’t live two places at once. So why couldn’t I just write another series? Enter New Orleans cop Skip Langdon, Rebecca’s evil twin. I don’t want to turn you against Rebecca—I want you to read every book in the series and have as much fun with her as I did!—but, full disclosure here, Rebecca’s a good girl at heart. (Not a goodie-goodie, not by any stretch, but she kind of likes her family and she does try to make them proud—it’s just that she doesn’t succeed due to all those murders in the woodpile.) Skip, on the other hand, is a rebel through and through.
Oh, boy! Now I had it going—don’t we all have a rebellious side and a kind of wanna-be-good-but-always screwing-up side? Or is that just me? Anyhow, this was the perfect chance to exercise both demons. (Right—exercise, not the other thing, as in take them out for a walk. How many people get that luxury? Only us serial seriesists!) And, hey, if we’re women, don’t we have a tomboy side? Hence the guy.
(Well, actually, that’s cheating—I think I wrote about the guy mostly because he’s a newspaper reporter, like me. So I wasn’t embarrassed to make those books a little more personal—or so I thought. Little did I know I was revealing myself right and left with the two female sleuths.)
Anyhow, there we have it—the good-girl side, the bad-girl side, the tomboy side. The only question left is how to explain my fourth series character, Talba Wallis, African-American computer genius poet detective?
Because I am not African-American, a poet, or a detective (though I did get my PI license), and I’m the despair of my nerdy friends. Where the Sam Hill did Talba come from? Well, thereon hangs a tale—if the other characters came from my psyche, Talba came from the pages of one of my books! Yep, she’s a spinoff character who was just too much fun and too fascinating not to spend more time with.
The Tenth Step, I think, for us addicts is to continue to take personal inventory and admit it when we’re wrong. But you know what? This was way too much fun to be wrong! Everyone should get the chance to be a series ho’.
**Buy “Death Turns A Trick!”
Great post, Julie, thanks for sharing!