On the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series
Series books provide particular challenges, because the writer has to take the reader on an ever-expanding journey. The stakes have to rise, book by book, and the characters need to grow and deepen as the readers do. Well-done series enable authors to develop their characters over a long period of time, allowing them to grow, change, backslide, empower, frustrate.
All too often, this doesn’t happen. Many publishers believe that readers want a level of comfort, want to know what they’re getting, which underestimates the readers’ hunger for challenges met by fascinating characters in astonishing ways. So authors pack their characters’ development all into one book, or even three books, and then keep them on fixed paths, simply tossing a challenge du jour their way that doesn’t really change them, and that keeps the readers in their own comfort zone.
This is particularly true when it comes to series that feature a romantic relationship. Convention–and many publishing guidelines–insist that, once the protagonist and the “hero” meet, every other serious suitor falls away, and once they kiss or have sex, the woman must be monogamous. And so often a series, especially one with a female protagonist, will fall flat after a few books, because the character progressed from A to B and maybe even reached C, but then found “true love”–after which point any challenge becomes a threat to the primary relationship, instead of taking advantage of the challenges presented by the myriad facets of a strong woman’s daily life. This isn’t the way …