Saturday, August 04, 2007

Connecting Books

As a writer who has frequently written books which grew out of other books, and who sometimes feels as if I've created an alternative universe out there, I also enjoy reading such books.

I'm not one of those people, though, who feels I need to read them in order and need to wait until all of them are written so that I can finally "begin."

I used to get emails and letters from readers though, especially when I was working on the Code of the West books for Silhouette, who wanted to know how many books there would be and when I would be finished so they could start reading.

They'd wait for sixteen books until they would start reading? Ye gods.

I never really understood that approach. Frankly I wouldn't want to read 16 of my books in a row (or anyone else's, either), and I certainly wouldn't want to read them in one fell swoop. I like a little space in my reading world -- and I like to introduce other worlds into my life.

But I always felt a little guilty writing back to readers and saying, "Um, I don't know. I am not sure when I'll be done and I don't know how many there will be. This is not a trilogy with an overarching plot covering all three books. This is more like life. And in life you just don't know what's going to happen next."

Still, that was pretty much the truth.

When I started writing Cowboys Don't Cry I knew I would like to write the story of all three Tanner brothers. But I had no guarantee that I would be able to do so or that they would want them if I did. So we agreed that I would do one book, and then we would see. Fortunately they decided they wanted more. And more. They wanted them clear up to The Cowboy's Christmas Miracle.

But then I needed to fulfill contractual obligations to Harlequin Presents ( readers had been waiting for Nathan for 2 years!). And since I write fairly slowly, I ended up just staying with Presents and never went back to do more Silhouettes.

Still, the desire has lingered. But by the time I was ready to write another Code of the West, Silhouette had moved on. Desire is now publishing more or less the same sort of books with the same sort of focus that Presents is doing -- though the emphasis is somewhat different.

Even so, it made sense to stay with Presents even though Flynn and Sara's book spins off The Great Montana Cowboy Auction (which you do not have to read first!).

So, for those who have been with me for years, yes, Flynn and Sara's book is a sort of Code of the West book. But it's also a Presents. And if you want to keep an eye out for it, it will be coming next spring, entitled One-Night Love Child. Disclaimer: not my title.

That said, I can see the editor in London now, who used to have to schedule my Code of the West books, rubbing her hands together gleefully and saying, "At least it's not another cowboy title!"

Cowboys, she used to tell me, don't sell in Britain. The term is pejorative there.

Tell that to Americans. Sigh.

I'm reading a connecting book right now, which is what made me think about this. It's called Games of Pleasure and it is the middle book of three (and I haven't read the first or the last). It's by Julia Ross, whom I used to read when she wrote as Jean Ross Ewing. I'm so glad to have found her again.

Games of Pleasure is a terrific book -- fascinating characters, multiple layers of plot, great emotional entanglements. An all around wonderful story. I have tracked down the third book and am looking for the first. But that's gravy. The book is a great stand-alone read.

I think most writers try to make sure that's the case with every book they do. I know I did with all my linked books. I'm flattered when people go looking for the others. But I'm always at pains to tell them, you don't need to read all of them to have a complete reading experience. Each book stands alone.

The truth is, I couldn't possibly remember all the bits and pieces if I had to knit them through every book. They exist in the world on account of my cheat sheet. But I can't possibly juggle plot elements from more than one book at a time. I'm lucky if I can get one book satisfactorily down on paper so that it makes sense. Then I go for another.

To me it makes sense to read them the same way.

If you want to enjoy a really good read, try Games of Pleasure. I'm sure the first and third books in this series would enrich your experience of it. But don't hesitate to read it by itself. The book certainly stands alone. It's wonderful.


Blogger Madeline said...

Thanks Anne. You always recommend the best books so, I'll be sure to pick up a copy of Games of Pleasure, the next time I'm at the book store.
Just to let you know, your books are always good reading, no matter what order I read them in.

Have a great week and Sadie says "Meow". Mads:)

05 August, 2007  
Blogger Anne McAllister said...


I think you'll enjoy Games of Pleasure. I know I have. I dawdled my way through it because I was enjoying it so much I didn't want it to end. Now I have Clandestine, the third book. So I allowed myself to finish!

Hope you enjoy it.


05 August, 2007  
Blogger Christa said...

I'm not a very patient person so I can't wait for the next book. Even if I get them out of order.

06 August, 2007  
Blogger Anne McAllister said...

I can't wait for the next book, either, Christa. I read them as I can. It's my own problem that I can't read fast enough not to have a teetering TBR pile most of the time!

06 August, 2007  

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