When is a book series both a series and not a series?
Today, on Facebook, I posted a link to a great article about linked novels over at WriterUnboxed.com. The author, Katie Rose Guest Pryal, wrote about how her novels are linked, or linked, but not necessarily a series in the traditional sense.
You know the traditional way. It’s a genre novel—mystery, SF, fantasy—with a central character that goes on many adventures of solves lots of cases. It’s what serialized television is all about as well as the stories of tons of authors from Agatha Christie to Alan Dean Foster to J. R. R. Tolkien.
But what Pryal talks about is her more literary books also following these guidelines. She uses Tana French as an example of how the books are related, can be read in any order, but are not labeled a traditional series.
That got my attention because that is exactly what I’m doing with my books.
To date, I’ve published three books: WADING INTO WAR, THE PHANTOM AUTOMOBILES, and ALL CHICKENS MUST DIE. WADING and CHICKENS feature Benjamin Wade, PI, as the lead character. His co-star is Gordon Gardner, reporter. Gardner is the lead in PHANTOM and Wade is his co-star. The third book, ALL CHICKENS MUST DIE, is back to Wade at the lead and Gordon as co-star. Later this year, I’ll publish the first novel featuring Lillian Saxton, as a lead…and its chapter 1 picks up exactly where WADING ended. Gardner’s second book (already written), Wade’s third (already written), and Saxton’s second, (writing in August) all have an internal flow.
Sure, you can read only the Wade books, but if you read them in the order they were written, you’ll get lots of neat nuances I’ve built in. Specifically, this is the *Chronological* order within the universe of the books. Here’s a quick illustration.
2. Saxton #1*
5. Gordon #2*
6. Saxton #2*
7. Wade #3*
I haven’t written Gordon #3 yet.
So, that’s the order of the Series That Doesn’t Have a Name.
When I was writing a quick Facebook blurb, I came up with Schrödinger Series. It’s a riff off Schrödinger’s Cat. It’s a famous thought experiment that involves a cat in a box that can be thought of as both alive and dead at the same time. My series of books, to date, is both a series and not a series.
In retrospect, as a better marketing tool, I should have published all three Wade books first, then the Gordon and Saxton books. But I didn’t. So now, I get to have fun letting readers know that there are two ways to enjoy my books.