Haven’t consciously moved any closer to a decision about my next novel. But my subconscious is busy churning away. I’m sure, with just a couple of trips to Dayton, I’ll be ready to start when it’s time (a couple of weeks away still).
So today I have a couple of questions to ask all you literary types (by literary I mean that you read a lot, not that you prefer Moby Dick over Harry Potter and The Whatever Comes Next).
QUESTION ONE: How long should a writer stay in a particular genre before switching?
When John Grisham (I confess to being a fan) switched from lawyer novels to something else, I didn’t hesitate at all before picking up the something else. Perhaps subconsciously I knew it was time; he’d perhaps taken the lawyer gig as far as he could and was getting a touch stale. Turns out, Painted House is my favorite Grisham novel. But still, I had read his novels long enough that I liked him as a writer, not necessary just liking lawyer novels.
On the other hand, if I find a military adventure thriller interesting enough to read another by the writer, but the next book is a murder mystery, I probably won’t pick it up.
So, tentatively, the answer is somewhere greater than one and no more than eleven (number of Grisham novels before Painted House).
Perhaps the other factor that colors that decision is if an author is on my “A List.” For me, once an author makes it to my A List, I’m reading everything they writer. Well, at least every bit of fiction that they write (including short stories); don’t promise to pick up that history of Marcus Aurelius that they’ve always dreamed about writing.
Can you make it to a reader’s A List with a single brilliant novel? I’m going to tentatively say, No. If your first novel is brilliant I absolutely promise to read the next one . . . but within certain limits.
Unfortunately, the Single Brilliant Novel path isn’t open to me, so I’m going to have to rely on the weight of the canon route.
QUESTION TWO: I don’t write sequels, or at least I haven’t so far (I’m actually considering it, but not too seriously). But all of my novels so far, although based in current times, have an Arthurian connection somehow. I sense that I’m coming to the end of that run — hence Question One — but not quite yet.
So the question is: do the Arthurian characters have to stay consistent from novel to novel? By using characters from another literary tradition, am I building a “world” (like in a science fiction or fantasy series) that requires consistency?
For example: in Strange Bedfellows (#3), Morgan La Fey is not the truly evil person you’ve come to love to hate from all the books, comic books, movies, and TV Shows where she’s appeared. Strong willed, a bit vindictive, willing to do things that we might consider of questionable morality for her own self interest. But seriously wronged by her brother, so perhaps her behavior is excusable (or at least understandable). So if Morgan makes an appearance in #5, does she have to be consistent with that? Or can she be truly evil once again?
Looking forward to getting your opinions. Thanks in advance.
AND ON A TOTALLY — WELL, NOT TOTALLY — UNRELATED NOTE: My writing partner, SusanH, gifted me with a fairy named “Dayton” (based on my previous post on this topic) to inspire me on this journey.