Jackie Rutledge just cannot put her past to rest. Her Bureau partner is dead, but not gone. And her sanity is becoming as fragile as her career. Worst of all, a wrenching journey into Deadworld has given her unwanted new abilities – and exhuming memories she hoped to keep buried. Now a merciless force capable of possessing humans is on a killing spree, destroying the guilty and innocent alike. It isn’t long before Jackie is a prime suspect, struggling to stay two steps ahead of her savvy new partner, and her undead P.I. and paramour, Nick. But to clear her name, she’ll have to take on her greatest challenge yet: confronting an inner darkness as inescapable as the one she hunts – and capable of annihilating more than her soul.
Make sure you stick around to the end. We’ll be giving away a copy of Deadworld to a lucky reader.
The kind folk at Literary Escapism have given me the opportunity to post on the blog today in relation to the second book in my Deadworld series, The Vengeful Dead, which is coming out October 4th from Kensington. As my topic was open ended, other than being related to writing and/or my book, I’ve decided to comment on one of the issues that most series authors face, and one I had not given any thought to before I actually began to get reader feedback on my debut. That issue is the difference in time an author gets between writing a book and reader feedback.
Deadworld came out in April of this year (if you have yet to read it, I’m giving away five copies of both Deadworld and The Vengeful Dead on Goodreads this month). The Vengeful Dead is out on October 1st, and the third installment, The Vengeful Dead, will be out next April. This is a reasonably short time span for three books to come out, a fact I’m glad for because, I think it helps boost reader awareness of the author. However, publishing does not actually work on that kind of time schedule. I sold Deadworld in September of 2008. I finished The Vengeful Dead in September of 2009, and The Lingering Dead this past August. As you can see, things are spread out a lot more than the release dates might suggest. The biggest drawback is that reader feedback has zero influence on book two, and very little on book three.
Some authors will likely say that you can’t let readers influence what you write. Write the story you want to write and let the chips fall where they may. There is wisdom in this, but I also feel that there is a relationship between readers and authors which is a bit different when it comes to series. In a series, the relationship is an ongoing one. It grows and develops along with the characters. Sometimes expectations are met, other times not. When I began to get feedback from readers on Deadworld, one of the more common issues brought up was the fact that Nick, the hero in the story, does not get much backstory. He is an Old West Sheriff turned vampire who has been pursuing another vampire for over a century, and it just kind of sits in the background. You get a sense for it, but there is little detail, and a number of readers wanted more detail. Unfortunately, I couldn’t accommodate this because the second book was done long before. The most I could do was get a bit more of that background into the third book, but I may frustrate some readers who were hoping to hear more of Nick’s backstory in the second.
This is a frustrating element for me as an author. If the bulk of my readership desired to read more of some element presented within my story, I would love to incorporate this to the extent that I can while keeping true to the vision I had of the story. I find it fun to discuss my stories, whether the opinions are good or bad, with readers, and would love to incorporate common thoughts/threads presented from readers, but they have to understand that what authors can and do decide to do, is likely two books or more down the road from when it was brought to their attention. Ideally, authors would relate to the readers on a book for a time frame before writing the next, but publishing does not work that way, and nor should it honestly. It would spread things out far too much and give readers the worst possible option: less stories to read.
So, I do what I can. Nick’s backstory will come out more. I plan to write up and post on my site a couple of chapters dealing with his original encounter with the villain, which is ancient history by the time Deadworld begins. Not everyone will have access to that of course, but it’s something I can do meet reader expectations/desires. Authors do try to keep readers in mind when they write, even though this sometimes means trying to write exactly the opposite of what we think you’d expect or want, just to confound and mess with you. It makes things more interesting that way.
And I’ll leave you with the following. I’m sure you’ve picked up many series where you really hoped some element got picked up on and developed or a character got killed off, or you hoped a relationship would go in one direction and it did not. How do you feel about fan interaction with the author on a series of books? Would you like to know that reader feedback can have an effect on future series content?
I love questions and feedback, so if you’d like to contact me directly, please feel free to do so. There’s a feedback form on my blog at: www.jnduncan.wordpress.com or you can leave a direct email at: www.jimnduncan.gmail.com. Also, feel free to check out more info on my Deadworld series at my author site: www.jnduncan.com. Thank you for reading/participating in the blog!
Meet JN Duncan!
J.N. Duncan began writing at the age of fourteen at the encouragement of his grandmother, who was a published mystery writer. Now a published author himself, he is a member of the Romance Writers of America and the International Thriller Writers. He lives in Ohio with his family. Learn more at jnduncan.com.
Thank you JN Duncan for taking the time to stop by Literary Escapism!
Contest Time! JN Duncan is giving away a copy of Deadworld to a lucky reader. To enter, all you have to do is answer this one question: How do you feel about fan interaction with the author on a series of books? Would you like to know that reader feedback can have an effect on future series content? Remember, you must answer the question in order to be entered.
Even though I’m not giving the additional entries any more, you can still help support the author by sharing their article, and this contest, on your blog, Twitter, Facebook, or anywhere you can. After all, the more people who are aware of this fabulous author ensures we get more fabulous stories.
The winner must post a review of the novel someplace. Whether it is on their own blog, Amazon, GoodReads, LibraryThing or wherever, it doesn’t matter. Just help get the word out.
The contest will stay open until September 20th at which time I’ll determine the winner with help from the snazzy new plug-in I have.
I have not been contacting winners, so you will need to check back to see if you’ve won.