Monday, July 28, 2014

Picking up the series

My first published novel was a crime story called Majoring in Murder. It was meant to be the first book in a series, about a college student turned hit man. I published it in 2011, at a time when I was really big into reading crime stories. Since then, my interests have meandered through southern literature, fantasy/sci-fi, mystery, and then back to horror, where stories within me begged to be told. I obliged, telling some of those stories and began writing several more, across various genres.

Recently, I finished my first rounds of edits on a horror novel I mentioned some time ago called What Goes Around, which I am very excited about. I'm just waiting for my first beta reader (read: wife) to go through it and provide her feedback. In the meantime, I planned to return to some stories I've started and continue to work on those. However, I've detoured from that plan. Currently, I don't feel motivated to work on those stories, for reasons I'm not fully cognizant of; it's just how my writing process works. Instead, I looked over my various notes, folders, etc. on the small external drive where all of my worlds live and found that my hit man series needed my attention. The inner workings that dictate my writing--my muse, if you will--raised the flag, signaling me to start writing the second book in the Jason Mashburn series; it was time.

Long ago, I had jotted down a high-level road map for where I wanted the series to go, what each subsequent book would tackle, and then I walked away so that it could mellow. When I came across those notes a couple of days ago, I felt that Jason had time to mature (so to speak), which is what I intended. In the first book, he was a naive, yet deadly, young man. Throughout the series, I would like the reader to watch Jason grow and mature, become more adept in his skills, and understand the motivates behind his decision to return to the business. In a sense, Jason is like me as an author. I was naive and cocky during the writing of that first book and, with the passing of those years and more writing experience to my credit, I like to think my skills have improved and I've matured as a writer.

It is my hope that, for readers who don't care for series, each of the books can stand alone to tell a cohesive story; that each book can be read out of order, able to allude to any necessary details from the previous books without breaking the plot. As for readers who progress through the series, beginning with the first book, I want them to witness Jason's metamorphosis throughout the arc; from naive student to hardened, calculating executioner. Overall, I hope to maintain the reader's sympathy and understanding for Jason, which is difficult to do when your main character is a contract killer, but I think I managed to pull it off in the first book.

So, that's what I've recently been working on, the next book in the Jason Mashburn installment. Tentatively, I've titled the story, Extracurricular Activities. I hope it turns out the way I envision it. More importantly, I hope you, the reader, enjoy it!

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