Please welcome Tim Marquitz to the blog. Tim discusses expanding the Demon Squad universe, and keeping readers hooked in a series. Also, check out his Kickstarter for the Demon Squad Initiative!
As I watch the clock tick down on the Demon Squad Initiative, my Kickstarter to expand the Demon Squad universe, I’m amazed to realize that I’m working on the 10th novel in the series, Institutionalized. What started out as a bit of an homage to Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files (albeit an off the wall one) has long since evolved into a world all its own, with living, breathing characters inhabiting the world I’ve created. Characters readers care about and ask for more of, cheering them on and booing the bad guys and yelling at me when I kill one of their favorites. It’s surreal.
And now the pressure is on to create yet another book in the series that has readers invested, that keeps them on the hook while still offering them the excitement and satisfaction of the previous installments. It needs to build on the world in a way that provides mystery and clarification at the same time, action and emotion, and it has to move the universe forward in a way that makes sense.
That’s part of the charm of a long-running series, that readers know what they’re getting into when they pick up a copy of the latest installment. But on the flip side, while they want some measure of sameness, the comfort of coming home, there’s still an expectation of advancement in the series. The characters and world have to involve, new faces have to appear among the old and new conflicts. It can’t just be the same old thing or readers get bored and walk away. And that’s the fine line an author has to tread with a series: keeping the world similar while offering up enough change, enough evolution, that it continues to move forward and keeps the readers engaged without running off the rails.
I think that’s the best part of writing. How many times have you lost interest in a series along the way, the author simply having abandoned the roots of what the story was or they let it evolve too quickly, the characters nothing like they were a few books back? It’s disappointing. We’ve all been there, a favorite character and series crumbling under the weight of expectation and forcing us readers to move on to find some new imaginary world to love.
Ten books in and expectation is a squirmy monkey on my back, pounding on my skull. I’ve managed to keep folks on the hook so far, and the success of the Initiative offers me hope that Demon Squad readers are still out there clamoring for more, but ten books is a long way to go. I’m hoping we’ll find out together if I’ve managed to pull it off.
Tim Marquitz is the author of the Demon Squad series, the Blood War Trilogy, co-author of the Dead West series, as well as several standalone books, and numerous anthology appearances including Triumph Over Tragedy, Corrupts Absolutely?, That Hoodoo Voodoo that You Do, Widowmakers, At Hell’s Gates 1&3, Neverland’s Library, Blackguards, SNAFU Survival of the Fittest, Future Warfare, and Hunters (Cohesion Press), In the Shadow of the Towers (Night Shade), and Unbound (Grim Oak Press). Tim also collaborated on Memoirs of a MACHINE, the story of MMA pioneer John Machine Lober.
Tim is co-owner and Editor in Chief of Ragnarok Publications.