Keeping The Plates Spinning

Zoë Sharp

There’s always talk among writers about the pros and cons of writing a series versus standalone novels and I can see both sides of the argument. There’s a lot of freedom to writing standalones. Any character traits that engage your interest can form the protagonist of your next work.

No baggage, no preconceptions. You can narrate in first person, third person, close third, multiple viewpoints – second person if you feel the urge. Present tense, past tense, a mix of both. Contemporary, historical, futuristic. There seems to be no limits beyond what your publisher will accept and your readers will enjoy. (And reader expectation is a whole different subject . . .)

Of course, there has always been a liking for ‘the same . . . but different’. I was a big fan of the early Dick Francis books, and not just for their horse-orientated content. Although they were mainly standalones with only a few repeated characters, there were definite similarities between the heroes of the Francis books, regardless of whether they were jockeys or bankers, airline pilots or movie stars.

As a reader, you knew what you were getting. And if you liked one, the chances were pretty good that you were going to like them all.

Few of the Francis protags were professionally involved with crime, but he successfully side-stepped the issue of Cabot Cove Syndrome, as it’s known. Anybody familiar with the long-running Jessica Fletcher ‘Murder She Wrote’ TV series will understand this. Every time that woman turned around, she tripped over a body. I mean, nobody in their right minds should ever have accepted an invitation to dine with Ms Fletcher, because you could be certain there’d be one less guest for dessert than for the appetiser. She was a jinx.

So, if you want an amateur sleuth to discover the bloodied corpse book after book, at least with a standalone character you aren’t forced to invent yet another reason why someone with an apparently harmless occupation should become such a magnet for murder.

Even professional law enforcement characters may stumble into the credibility issue, though. Just how many serial killers or fiendishly cunning murderers can a small-town police chief chase down in his career? Reminds me of the Bruce Willis line in ‘Die Hard 2’ as he’s battling the bad guys in a stricken airport in the snow: “How can the same sh*t happen to the same guy twice?”

Of course, the standalone writers might argue that the series writers have it easy. Once you’ve hit upon an intriguing main character, you’re halfway there. If people are hooked on your recurring protag, they’re likely to pre-order the next in the series without knowing more than the title.

And this is the reason that publishers, it seems, also rather like series. I wonder how many debut authors have stopped work on a non-related second novel because of hints that another book featuring the same characters as the first would be smiled on rather more favourably.

Then you have the additional question with a series – how inter-related do you make the books? If someone picks up book five, for example, how much are they missing – and how frustrating will they find it – if they haven’t already read books one through four?

Do you keep your main character stuck in a time warp, where they never age, never change, never carry lasting memories of old cases, old love affairs, old enemies? Or do you allow your protag to evolve and develop as the series goes on, taking them on a personal journey through each book that’s as important to returning readers as the individual story arc?

I set out to write Charlie Fox as a series character from the beginning, and I had a reasonable idea of where I was going to take her, from ex-army self-defence instructor, through training and into the world of close protection. Maybe I should have just chucked her straight in at the deep end, and made every client she had to protect a new job without reference to anything that went before.

But I couldn’t do that.

It seemed important to me that the character learn from her past experiences, that they affected her as much as she affected them. People tell me they like Charlie’s ongoing internal battles, her complicated relationship with her former army training instructor, lover, and now boss, Sean Meyer, and her constant struggle to come to terms with her own cold-blooded side.

And this is where I discovered another difficulty with writing a long-running series.

Keeping the plates spinning.

People who are coming to a series cold like to start at the very beginning. My first US publisher picked up the series at book four, FIRST DROP, and then leapfrogged the next one to go straight to book six. Books one, two, three and five were overlooked, causing endless confusion, not to mention frustration.

My original UK publisher was sold out to a larger house and one by one, the early UK books went out of print. All five of them. The only editions still obtainable – apart from Large Print and audiobooks – were snapped up by the collectors, and I have been amazed and even a little horrified (if, I admit, somewhat flattered) by some of the prices being achieved. But this has meant that getting hold of a half-decent reading copy became an exercise out of the reach of most people’s pocket. Mine included.

Not any more.

(And here you must picture me shuffling my feet awkwardly, being British and finding BSP a difficult exercise. Please forgive my excitement, though. Normal service will be resumed next time, I promise.)

For the first time in years, all the early Charlie Fox backlist books are available again – in e-format. It’s taken some blood, sweat and tears – not necessarily in that order – but they’re all out and damn if I’m not proud to have them back on sale. The later books, of course, are available from Allison & Busby in the UK and St Martin’s/Pegasus in the States, with e-versions either out currently or on the way, in the case of FIFTH VICTIM.

(And even those of you who don’t have a Kindle reader device itself, you can download Kindle Reader for PC or Mac absolutely free.)

Until now, it’s felt like one of those TV game shows where hapless volunteers from the audience have to try to keep a load of plates spinning on the end of poles. Just you thought you’d got them all going, the one at the beginning begins to topple.

At last, all my plates are spinning at once.

I know I mentioned the new Charlie Fox e-thology, FOX FIVE last time, and the new edition of the very first book, KILLER INSTINCT, but now these have been joined by RIOT ACT, HARD KNOCKS, FIRST DROP and ROAD KILL. (Although as I write this I’m still waiting for a couple of them to go live on Amazon US, UK, and DE. This brand newness explains part of my ‘kid with new toy’ feeling today – sorry!)

Here are the covers for the series, designed by Jane Hudson at NuDesign. I’m over the moon with the eye-catching look of the series, but see what you think:


As with KILLER INSTINCT, each book has some added extras, like Author’s notes, an introduction to Charlie Fox, an excerpt from the next book in the series, and a guest excerpt.

For these I’ve been lucky enough to hook up with some of my favourite writers. Former ‘Rati Brett Battles allowed me to put an excerpt from his Jonathan Quinn novella, BECOMING QUINN in the first book, and others are: in RIOT ACT, Timothy Hallinan’s second Junior Bender novel, LITTLE ELVISES; in HARD KNOCKS, Libby Fischer Hellmann’s PI Georgia Davis/Ellie Foreman novel, DOUBLEBACK; in FIRST DROP, Blake Crouch’s ‘what if’ thriller, RUN; and finally in ROAD KILL, Lee Goldberg’s new standalone, KING CITY.

I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to have been able to join forces with these very talented writers, who are also including excerpts from the Charlie Fox books in their latest work. Let’s hope this cross-pollination opens up our novels to a wider audience.

And finally, I was invited to join a new outfit called The Hardboiled Collective, by Jochem Vandersteen of the Sons of Spade blogsite. This is just a group of – well, the clue is in the name, and I hope you’ll check out some of the great writers who are members. We even have a terrific group logo, courtesy of Jane Hudson again:

OK, that’s it, I’m going to stop going ‘me, me, ME’ now. I promise to calm down and stop stuffing myself with Sunny Delight and blue Smarties and go lie down in a darkened room for a bit.

My questions this week, though, are do you feel that you HAVE to start reading a series right from the start, or are you happy to dive in wherever the fancy takes you? And if you used to read a series but have stopped, what made you do so?

Next weekend I shall be attending Bouchercon 2011 in St Louis MO, and am hugely looking forward to going – more so as I’ve missed out on the last couple. Please say “Hi” if you’re going. On the way, I’m doing an event at Lisle Library in Chicago IL. Can’t wait!

Finally, this week’s Word of the Week is paedometer, a device that can be strapped to the arm while out exercising to show you how many perverts are in the immediate vicinity . . .




33 thoughts on “Keeping The Plates Spinning

  1. Alan

    No I don't think you have to start a series at the beginning. Two of my favourite serial characters Jack Reacher (Lee Child) and Nic Costa (David Hewson), I came to part way through the series. I have since gone back and read those books from the start of the series and have seen how the characters have developed over time, and has also allowed me to reread where I started in the series, but I don't think that you need to start at the beginning. Off the top of my head I can't think where this applies to any of the serial characters that I have read.

    On another note am glad that the early Charlie Fox's are now out on kindle, am planning to make my way through them all now at some point!

  2. Rachel Walsh

    Thanks for the heads up, Zoe. I've been making my way through the oeuvre of the Murderati clan (Cornelia, Alex, J.T, Tess and Allison, so far) and am thoroughly enjoying the experience, and now I can enjoy your works, too – and in the right order! 🙂 Just bought book one; can't wait to get started!

  3. Zoë Sharp

    Hi Alan
    Reacher is a great example of a character who doesn’t really change a great deal from book to book, so you can start anywhere and enjoy them all. I suppose the only exceptions to this might be the last two, where WORTH DYING FOR begins almost exactly where 61 HOURS left off. I confess that I’ve only read one of David Hewson’s Nic Costa series – A SEASON FOR THE DEAD – so I’ll have to search out more to see how the character develops. Thanks for reminding me!

    Glad you’re planning on working your way through the Charlie Fox series. I hope you enjoy them.

    Hi Rachel
    I’m pleased that you’ve taken this post as useful information rather than BSP that’s too unbearable ;-] I’m just so happy to have the books available for readers again (although I can’t help but keep half an ear cocked for the sound of one of those plates falling …)

    Nice that Murderati has given you such an extensive TBR list. Happy reading!

  4. Eika

    It really depends on the series. When it's one like yours, with growing and changing, I can feel cheated– almost spoiled– because I'll learn how previous books turned out by reading the newest one. If, on the other hand, they're practically stand-alone, there's no issue.

    And I love that definition of paedometer.


  5. Sarah W

    I also prefer series characters to change and develop, with the possible exception of Robert B. Parker's Spencer and Hawk, who, in my opinion, didn't need to. Mr. Block's Matthew Scudder is probably my favorite example of a character who changes throughout his series. Of course, these characters aren't amateurs in any way, which probably helps.

    I stopped reading one long-running amateur series because, although the main character's life does change in some major ways, it seems to do so *around* her. She appears to be the same naive, emotionally overwrought person she was in the first few books and doesn't retain much between books. After the first three or four deaths, she should know the drill, right? The mysteries are still good and the writing is solid, but after all this time, the MC is verging on TSTL, because she's the *only one* in stasis. If her life remained static, she wouldn't seem so out of place in her own series.

    However, I'm fond of amateur corpse hounds, though my favorites are those who also wonder what gives and would like it to stop, please.

  6. David Terrenoire

    It depends. I like that I can pick up any of the Jack Reacher novels and be OK. But I wouldn't read an Aubrey/Maturin book out of place. The great Ray Banks insisted on aging his protagonist, with all the attended knocks, until Callum was seriously damaged by the final book. Ray's as hard on himself as he is on his characters.

    I'm in the midst of this now, starting the second in what I intend to be a WW2 series. I know readers expected Beneath A Panamanian Moon to be the start of a series, with John Harper a recurring character, and I considered it. But I realized that if I brought Harper back, I'd be writing the same book again and that's not why I do this. Still, maybe, in the future. Never say never, right?

    So, as I wait to hear about the new ms, I continue on. Being a writer, I'm just too stupid to quit.

  7. Jake Nantz

    I think I have to agree with Alaina, it depends on the series. With a character (or characters) whose life changes as the series goes on (Think Tess's Jane Rizzoli, or Elvis Cole, or Harry Bosch, or JT's Taylor Jackson) I prefer to read them in order if possible. That's because no matter how well written they are (and all of those examples are great), it's more fun to see the event than to read a short summary in the next book that's only there to help new readers catch that little bit of background.
    On the otherhand, with a Shane character like Reacher, I started with ONE SHOT and never felt cheated, even though he goes through a lot, because it doesn't change him much.

    That could just be me though. Cheers on getting your backlist up, the covers look fantastic! I'll have to download them to catch all of the backstory events I missed by starting with FIRST DROP (not by choice, but it was still a great book!).

  8. Zoë Sharp

    Hi Alaina/Eika (which do you prefer, btw?)
    Because Charlie does change, and in the case of the last two books – FOURTH DAY and FIFTH VICTIM – I think it would definitely be better to read them in the correct order. And even, I suppose, to read the one before – THIRD STRIKE – before 4D. Still, with the backlist available again at least now people have the answers to questions like how Charlie got that scar around her neck, why she was given a Honda FireBlade by a gangster, and where she first met the farmer’s sister who was good with a crossbow . . .

    The definition of paedometer came about purely because of a mispronunciation by a friend, with slightly comic results ;-]

    Hi Sarah
    I’d have to agree about Hawk. I always saw him as part of Spenser’s character, though. Hawk as his ruthless side, and Susan as his emotional side, split out into three separate characters. And apart from a succession of different dogs – although all called Pearl to avoid confusion – he didn’t change much or age at all throughout the series.

    I’m intrigued by which series you’re referring to, though. Working that one out is going to keep me awake at nights . . .

  9. Zoë Sharp

    Hi David
    I can completely understand what you mean about the Patrick O’Brian books because I always loved the Alexander Kent Richard Bolitho books, and they had to be read in order because the character started out as a young midshipman in 1772 and ended up dying an admiral in 1815.

    Your decision to keep John Harper as a standalone character is sound. For myself, I keep finding new places to take Charlie, so when I feel like I’m running over old ground with her, I’ll stop – or preferably BEFORE I get to that stage. I’d hate to coin the next ‘jumping the shark’ phrase. I think the last Indiana Jones movie managed that with ‘nuking the fridge’.

    Best of luck with the new ms – I’ll keep my fingers crossed for a favourable reaction for you.

    Thanks, Jake
    You’ve pinpointed precisely one of the most difficult aspects of series writing – how much backstory to include in each book. Not just about the character, but about the events of the previous book(s). I try not to give away whodunit, or what exactly happened, without being so cryptic it becomes annoying. (I hope, anyway!)

    In FIFTH VICTIM, there’s the reappearance of a villain from the previous book, but just so I give away as little as I possibly can, this person (see, I’m not even going to say gender) is living under an assumed name and has altered their physical appearance.

    Now, however, Jan Burke has set up a Facebook page called Spoilerville, where people can go to discuss books they’ve already read, without upsetting those who haven’t read them yet. Brilliant idea, Jan!

  10. Louise Ure

    Hi Zoe,

    I admit a preference for both reading and writing stand alones. (My writing stand alones has more to do with insecurity than anything else. Unsure of whether my current protag would find a happy home with readers or publishers, I immediately started work with a different character when the other book was done.)

    But a series like yours, which can be read in any order and duly appreciated, is also fun for me as a reader.

    I LOVE the new book covers!

  11. CarlC

    Hi Zoë,
    Now that I've finished FOX FIVE and KILLER INSTINCT, thanks to your efforts to make them available in E-format, I'm glad to hear the rest of your backlist is (or is about to be) available. Given this opportunity, I'll plan on reading them in order of publication.

    If I have the chance, I do prefer to read series fiction in order, even though most authors work to make that unnecessary. Something in that appeals to my OCD nature.

  12. Zoë Sharp

    Hi Louise
    Your apparent insecurity has never shown in the surety of touch you display in your writing. You’ve had some fascinating protagonists, so maybe we can be selfish and applaud your decision to write standalones as this means we’ve been able to enjoy the variety your imagination provides ;-]

    Thanks for the kind words – and glad you love the covers!

    Hi Carl
    A couple of my favourite series, I read them in whatever order I picked them up originally, but when I re-read (which I regularly do with books/series I’ve really enjoyed) I’ll do that in the correct order.

    Hmm, I think we may share a few OCD traits ;-]

  13. Alafair Burke

    This is such a great post. I just went back to a series after writing a standalone and struggled once again with all these decisions about balance.

  14. Sylvia

    I like both the standalone and series. When I find a series I like? Watch out. I will read through an entire series in a matter of weeks.

    I do admit that if I know a book is in a series, I will go back and start with it from the beginning. If I 'accidentally' start a series mid-stream, I go back and read it from the beginning.

    For authors, doing what you 'want' in a series has to be the hardest. There was a great series I read (4 books) and in the last book, one of the main characters was killed off. Reviewers were furious. I thought it was mighty courageous!

  15. Reine

    Hi Zoë,

    First off – love the covers, and they look great together. I look forward to getting them all downloaded. I'm working my way through from the beginning, as I prefer to in general. Although often I can't, or should I say it's impractical. I buy lots of books that are mostly of the e variety. I also buy CDs, so I can read when I need to be flat on my back.

    E-books have been the greatest thing for me, because I don't have to fuss with turning pages or holding the book open. I use a custom stylus (chopstick with a bit of copper foil sheet stuck on the tip) to turn the pages on my iPad. But voice commands are only currently possible with e-readers if you "jailbreak" your pad/tablet device. I think I understand the motive behind this de-accessed feature, but I find it outrageous, nonetheless. There could easily be a way to document a person's need through the LOC program for blind and disabled readers. And digital tracking could stop unlawful copying as easily as in any other sphere.

    I rely a great deal on getting Books on "Tape" CDs from the local library and special cassettes from the Library of Congress (LOC) program. Their selections are not really very good, and the (really wonderful – really good) people in these two groups, seem to prefer to send you pretty much what they want. I think this is because of the hugely long waiting lists for their books.

    They do welcome your giving them a preferred genre or other category. The problem with that is if you ever want to read a series in order you will have to wait – sometimes for a very long time – for the book you need next — or first. I waited over two years for Sue Grafton's A IS FOR ALIBI. When I finally got it, the cassette quality was so poor I had to send it back for repair and, over a year later, I have yet to receive the replacement.

    OK, so the point is, I love e-books because I can usually afford to buy them and I don't have to hold onto them to read. I just wish there were more of my choices available for e-readers. SO THANK YOU ALL WHO GET YOUR E-THOLOGIES OUT THERE! Not sorry for yelling, because you who are able to do so – and do get your ebooks out there – deserve a good cheer. Yo Zo!

  16. Zoë Sharp

    Hi Alafair
    Coming back to one style after another can feel both comfortable and awkward. But I never lose the slightly panicky feeling when faced with the first blank page. Like I can’t quite remember how I did this before.

    Good luck with finding your balance!

    Hi Sylvia
    Bending series rules is part of the fun – seeing how far you can push things without breaking your contract with the reader. I didn’t realise when I shot Charlie twice on the opening page (of SECOND SHOT – no surprise really with that title, is it?) that it was going to cause such collective sharp intake of breath. I just wanted to strip away the physical self-assurance that’s always been such a big part of the character and see how she coped on crutches. Differently, was the answer.

    I know what you mean about reading the entire series in a matter of weeks. I recently had a Robert B Parker-athon – reading all his Spenser series from THE GODWULF MANUSCRIPT to SIXKILL. Thoroughly enjoyed them all.

  17. lil Gluckstern

    I, too, loved your definition of paedophile. I admit to a certain amount of OCD when it comes to series; I like to read them in order, and quickly. (I want to know what happens next). I enjoy standalones, as well. I just like good writing, and a sense of satisfaction at the end. It is really nice to know that you writers are a community, and helping each other out. Even if it is a little awe-inspiring.I'm looking forward to more Charlie.

  18. Zoë Sharp

    Hi Reine
    Thank you – I’m glad you like the new covers. It was terrific to be able to look at the design of them all at once, so get a continuous theme going. Jane is hugely talented, IMHO ;-]

    There’s been a slight delay with books three and four – HARD KNOCKS and FIRST DROP – but they are uploaded so should be appearing soon.

    I can fully appreciate how e-readers can make life easier for all sorts of people, for all sorts of different reasons, from weight to text size to audio facility. Anything that helps get the writer’s words into the reader’s imagination has to be applauded. (What on earth is ‘jailbreaking’ your tablet, by the way?)

    I’m sorry to hear that you have such problems getting hold of the books you want in the order you want them, but hopefully the rise in e-book popularity will make things easier for you. How would an author volunteer their work for the LOC or Books on Tape programs, do you know?

  19. Larry Gasper

    I definitely come down in preferring series and tend to come back to the beginning once I've found one I like. For instance, I read "First Drop" first of the Charlie Fox books(found at a department store here in Canada that has a large selection of British editions) Now I'm glad I'll be able to get the previous books on Kindle, like I recently did with "Fox Five."
    On the other hand, I started with Robert Crais's Elvis Cole novels a couple of books in and was glad I did. When I went back to "The Monkey's Raincoat" the first book, I found it too derivative of Robert B. Parker and might not have continued with the series if that was all I had read.

  20. Reine

    Hi Zoë,

    With the rising popularity of e-books it is considerably easier to get the books I want, as long as I can pay. Fortunately they are still much cheaper than hard copies.

    Mac's VoiceOver feature will read iBooks, but in order to read on other apps, such as Kindle or Nook, a person would have to "jailbreak' their iPad or iPhone – I'm not recommending this at all, because it's a pretty expensive device to mess with your warranty or your device capability. However, many people do it, by following instructions on a number of websites. What they do is release the device from its deactivated screen-reading capability status, So if a person's device has been prevented from screen-reading books on another app, then they will be essentially unlocking it.

    You might recall that Kindle books could originally be screen-read. Then legal objections arose, and Amazon deactivated the screen-reader option on Kindle apps, as did Nook and others. Many people with disabilities were affected, and some figured out how to break their e-reader out of digital voice-over jail.

    Nice question there on donating! I think the easiest way for an author to donate might be to go through a local office . . . um . . . like the Phoenix office of the Arizona State Library and offer. I have an email in to the LOC national office but don't know how, when, or if I will get a response! I could call, too. Or if you wanted and had time, you might like to do that while in the states sometime.

    A volunteer in New Mexico recorded Pari's books, and that was how I was able to read them. The state libraries will arrange inter-library loans of books for their clients with disabilities. I have received several of their special book cassettes that were direct sound copies of the regular-published CDs for the public.

    Local libraries mail CD's to their readers who are unable, due to disability, to access the library building, and they are available as any book would be at the library. I think the state libraries – or perhaps the county libraries – are the clearing houses for those, as well. I always request the library to purchase any books on CD that I want and they do not have, but they don't always buy them. Sometimes they don't have the budget, and sometimes they can't locate a copy. Anything I might be able to help facilitate I will, because I am so passionate about equal access.

  21. PD Martin

    Congrats on the backlist ebooks! And the covers look fantastic. Unfortunately I did end up looking up my contracts and I have no separate rights reversion for ebooks so I have to wait until the print versions are 'out of print' and there are less than 150 ebooks of the title being sold per year. Grrr… Still, I guess my first novel only came out six years ago.

    Congrats again on getting these books out (and having tight contracts!). And I love the idea of cross-pollination.

  22. Bobby Mangahas

    Hi Zoe,

    Great post. I just have to say though, my theory was always that Jessica Fletcher WAS the murderer. Yes, it's a far out theory, but you have to admit it's an interesting thought. It was even one of my very first blog posts.

    By the way, I'm thoroughly enjoying working my way through your back list. I even got a copy of Killer Instinct in Hardcover. (Yours, not Joe Finder's ;), although I have that one as well).

    Again, wish I was able to make B'Con this year. Hopefully, your travels will bring you to the New England area soon.

  23. Zoë Sharp

    Hi Lil
    Erm, I think you’ll find that’s paeoMETER. Isn’t a paedofile someone who tries to put them in order …?

    It’s interesting that you’ve picked up on the helping each other out aspect of this post. I have to say it’s a very American thing. In my experience British authors, for some reason, see other authors as their direct competition – kind of a ‘if someone buys your book, they might not buy mine’ attitude. So if they have a good promotional idea, they tend to keep it to themselves. The only UK author I approached to do a guest excerpt said no – a nice no, but no nonetheless. I much prefer the pay-it-forwards, we’re-all-in-this-together approach. Lee Child sums it up nicely, when he says that he writes one book a year, which maybe takes someone a week or even two to read. If he can recommend other authors they can read for the other fifty weeks, he’ll do it.

    Hi Larry
    How interesting that you found the later Robert Crais better than the first couple. And I agree that sometimes it takes a few books for an author to get into their stride. I know my later books had the benefit of experience behind them – and the benefit of better editing, too ;-]

    Hope you enjoyed FOX FIVE, and the other early Charlie Fox books when you get to them!

  24. Zoë Sharp

    Hi Reine
    Ah, jailbreaking in this context sounds a bit like de-regioning a DVD player. They don’t build different players for each market, so the restrictions are all in the software. We de-regioned ours because we buy a lot of DVDs in the States (fewer language options than European ones, so usually more extras instead – not to mention they’re available earlier) and it was just a case of pushing a certain sequence of buttons. All to be found on the internet.

    I have a blind physiotherapist, so I’ll check with him who to contact for the UK side of things, and I’m doing an event as Lisle Library in Chicago while I’m in the States, so I’ll talk to the librarian there – or Lesa Holstine at the Velma Teague in Glendale AZ. Good thinking!

    All my books are available in audio from BBC Audiobooks (now AudioGo) and in Large Print in the UK from ISIS, and I know my web guy is very keen to make my site accessible.

    Hi PD
    My previous UK contracts were all done before e-books were really on the horizon, and my existing contracts say that if the print version is out-of-print with no plans to revert, then e-versions don’t count towards it still being ‘in print’. I wonder how much that’s going to change in the future, though.

    I loved the idea of giving readers DVD-style extras, hence the author’s notes for each book, and the intros I did for the short stories. I love reading sleeve notes on CDs if they tell me a little more about the background to the songs, so I thought why not do the same for books? Going into e-format is an ideal opportunity for adding bonus material.

  25. Zoë Sharp

    Hi Bobby
    Ah-HA! You may be right. Jessica Fletcher – serial killer! Wouldn’t that make a great spoof movie?

    I collared Joe about nicking my title, but he said when he checked, my version of KILLER INSTINCT was out of print, so he thought he’d be OK ;-] It’s another reason why the actual title of the new e-book version on Amazon is ‘KILLER INSTINCT: Charlie Fox book one’ so there’s no confusion!

    We hope to be back to New England again soon. Maybe next year. <sigh>

    And to everyone who’s going to be at Bouchercon, I hope to see you there. We’ll be in the bar, no doubt!

  26. Reine

    "I have a blind physiotherapist, so I’ll check with him who to contact for the UK side of things, and I’m doing an event as Lisle Library in Chicago while I’m in the States, so I’ll talk to the librarian there – or Lesa Holstine at the Velma Teague in Glendale AZ. Good thinking!"

    Z, you are fabulous. And so is Lesa Holstine.

  27. Reine

    Poor Jessica. It's not her fault her writer does that to her. Serial killer. Honestly. Hey, wait a miniute. No. That is too creepy.

  28. Reine

    Well ta back atcha, Zoë! That word brings back such nice memories of a dear lady and her fresh baked cookies. Lo Lo taught me to say "ta ta" . . . or no more cookies. I learned fast. It's the first word I remember someone teaching me, in any language.

    Perhaps Jessica and Miss Marple could meet up in Cabot Cove?

  29. Pari Noskin

    I know what you're writing about. I think many of my plates have fallen, but readers will forgive some mistakes if they love the character. And I'm so happy to be writing Sasha again — even if she only finds an electronic life this time.

    AND AND AND a huge CONGRATS on the books!

    I hope everyone goes out and buys them all for themselves, for friends and family.

  30. Zoë Sharp

    Hi Pari
    Thank you so much!

    But I don't think you should look on e-format as a lesser way forwards. It's becoming a huge market and a reader is a reader, regardless of how they enjoy your words ;-]

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