Thursday, March 21, 2024

SUSAN SHEA AT A CROSSROADS.

 RHYS BOWEN:  I've just released book Twenty in my Molly Murphy series and I've found myself wondering when it might be time to walk away. Oh, don't get me wrong, I'm still enjoying her, and Lady Georgie, but there must come a time when a series comes to a logical end, mustn't there?

Anyway, this is what my guest today is pondering at the moment. Susan Shea is a dear friend and neighbor, allowing me to share plenty of cups of coffee or fish and chips while we mull over books and the publishing world. So I'll let you tell her about it...

SUSAN SHEA: Hi Reds, It’s such a treat to be back visiting some of my absolute favorite authors! My newest book, MURDER AND THE MISSING DOG, has just launched. It’s the fourth one set in the rural towns of the Yonne region of Burgundy, largely off the tourist path, but brimming with small pleasures, great food – and mysteries, of course!


 

I’m right now deciding if I’ll continue to write about my cast of ex-pats and their neighbors or veer in a new direction. I already had to say goodbye to Dani O’Rourke, the smart professional woman at the heart of that three-book series, and it made me sad. Now, it could be au revoir to Ariel Shepard and her friends as well as their quirky French hosts. It’s a big decision.

 Some of the Reds write stand-alones. Others write series. Have you ever contemplated giving your series characters a grand send-off, or letting them drift into the fog? And if you’re a wizard with stand-alones, do you ever think that staying with your characters as they move past one crisis might be intriguing? What do readers want?

 Info about the book:

 MURDER AND THE MISSING DOG is the second book in a series set in and around a modest, dilapidated château in Burgundy. American Ariel Shepard inherited it from her romantic husband, who secretly bought it after they visited the grounds on their honeymoon. He died suddenly before he could have it restored. She has moved to the rural town and taken on the challenge, making friends and finding a collection of off-beat local workers. She’s also found trouble, in this case the body of an eccentric old woman from the town crumpled on the doorstep of her friend Katherine’s little shop. The gendarmes are on the scene almost immediately and she and her two friends, who became entangled in a former homicide investigation, are warned not to get involved. But the police aren’t interested in the missing dog, which was Madame Toussaint’s constant companion. Ariel, Katherine, and their young English friend Pippa see no harm in looking for the dog, but of course that leads them right into the heart of the bigger mystery.

 Bio:

 Susan says she’s been writing since she was old enough to read. She left a career in non-profits to write crime fiction because it looked like more fun. She’s written three highly praised murder mystery series all of which are available in one or more formats: The Dani O’Rourke Mysteries; two Burgundy novels; and the French Château series that takes place in the same neighborhood as the first Burgundy novels. The newest château novel was published March 5. They’re all traditional-cozy style, laced with humor. Susan is past president of the Norcal Sisters in Crime chapter, and served five years on the SinC national board. She lives with two cats, blogs with some dynamite authors at 7CriminalMinds, and has an author page on Facebook. www.susancshea.com .

RHYS: Who could resist a book with a dog on the cover AND lovely French houses AND sunshine!

Susan will be giving away a signed copy to one of today's commenters!

50 comments:

  1. Diana here: welcome to JRW, Susan. And congratulations on your new novel. I look forward to reading your new mystery with a cute dog. Who can. Resist a story with a dog? And I grabbed a copy of your first French village mystery at Bouchercon.

    Happy Spring!

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  2. Congratulations on your newest book, Susan . . . I'm looking forward to finding out what happened to that little dog!
    I think readers might find it almost as hard to say good-bye to a character as the author does; we do tend to get invested in stories and characters . . . .

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    1. Hi Joan! I know - it feels as though I've moved away and miss my friends. I want to write them back into my life so I can find out what they've been doing!

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  3. Congratulations, Susan! I think one of the hardest parts of ending a series for the author is saying goodbye to your fictional friends and village. We create these people, these places, and we live with them for years. I sometimes bring one back in a short story, because I miss them.

    To the commenter gang here - I really did respond to each of you yesterday, but blogger was being a stubborn, persistent jerk and not letting them through, even when I waited ten or fifteen minutes between responses.

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    1. Hank Phillippi RyanMarch 21, 2024 at 8:48 AM

      Oh, Edith, blogger is frustrating, sometimes, and when people leave too many comments, it decides they are spam. Let me go back into the inner workings of the blog in a bit, and see if I can release those comments!

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    2. Edith, that's such a good idea. I may just try it soon, if only for my curiosity about my characters' doings!

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    3. Edith, I did this with a series I've been working on--wrote a short story, which then led to beginning a fifth book in the series.

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  4. Congratulations on your newest book! I can get quite sad when a series I enjoy ends. It's like losing a friend. Thank you for this chance at your giveaway. pgenest57 at aol dot com

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  5. Congratulations. Your book really goes to my heart. Dogs and France, who can resist that? I love mysteries set in other countries, and I'm a dog person. Also, sleuthing for a missing dog is such and original idea for a mystery. All best luck. It's interesting, though. Quite a few authors I like (Rhys and Cara come to mind) are thinking of ending their series, sniff.

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    1. Elizabeth, thank heavens Rhys is so prolific and that her talented daughter Clare has taken the reins with Molly. By the way, the missing dog in my new book is a descendent of the gorgeous French hunting dogs you see in 18th century paintings, a handsome dude!

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  6. Congratulations Susan to your recent book release. Like everyone, I do get sad when a series end, but I do like when author give us a heads-up that the series will be done. I know sometimes they don't make that decision.

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  7. I like to read both series and stand alones. There’s nothing wrong with a short series if the story arc has reached its end. I think readers who would be likely to read another in your series will be just as likely to pick up something new from you.

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    1. Brenda, that's the thing - a planned last story gives the author a chance to complete the character arcs.

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  8. SUSAN: Congratulations on your new book! France, dogs, good food & sunshine are a great combination. As a loyal reader of series, it's definitely hard to say goodbye to beloved characters and setting. I hope that you can tie up loose ends and finish the series on a satisfying note.

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  9. Lynette Porter-TinnelMarch 21, 2024 at 7:28 AM

    Congratulations

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  10. Congratulations Susan! I think it might be just as hard for the reader as it is to the author to 'let go.' Just one more! I'm thinking right now of Margaret Maron's wonderful Deborah Knott series. I hated knowing there would be no more, but at the same time I understood the author's reasoning. But still the characters live on in my mind and that is probably the best that anyone could hope for.

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    1. Wasn't that a wonderful series?

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    2. That series immediately came to my mind when reading this post, too. I loved it so much! But as you say, Maron was generous in explaining her reasoning, which helped a lot.

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    3. And that last book! Wow!! What a great story she told! (Flora)

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  11. Congratulations on the new book, Susan! I do think it's hard to let go - both for readers and authors.

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  12. Congratulations Susan! You ask such a good question, and it's complicated by what the publishers think will sell, as well as what will actually sell. Also we've all had the experience I bet of series that ended too soon (thinking of Shetland series from Ann Cleeves) and others that lost juice and probably went on too long. I'll be very interested to hear what you decide!

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    1. Ah, there's the rub. Sales, sales!

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  13. Hank Phillippi RyanMarch 21, 2024 at 8:49 AM

    Such a decision – – but you can always change your mind, right? What if you decided to write something else, and then go back to Ariel. It’s never a question of never – – it’s just a question of what you think might be the most fun and rewarding to write!

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    1. Hank, you are so positive and supportive of writers and their goals! I love that perspective!

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  14. Hi, Susan! I see I'm behind on your Burgundy mysteries. How wonderful, to know there are more to enjoy!

    In the old days, before the Internet, series ended and the general public had no idea why. And unless we physically went to the library or had a bookseller do research for us we wouldn't really know the extent of an author's ouvre, anyway. That sure has changed, hasn't it? With readers clamoring for the next episode, as if novels were TV shows. The pressure would be hard, I think.

    "How to end" has always put me in a quandary. I mean, stories in real life only end with the physical end of a person, although some do go on as legends, etc. Maybe my imagination is just too hyper!

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    1. Three cheers for a good imagination! My own take is that people to leave, their roles in the lives of the conmunity - be it fictional ir real -are over. Not a death, just. a departure,

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  15. I'm a greedy reader--I always want more of a series I enjoy, even though I understand that an author might want to end it or a publisher might decide for them. I'll be looking for your books, Susan. I'm not very familiar with the Burgundy region of France and love a series that takes me someplace new. (Flora)

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    1. Burgundy is best known for the cathedral town Vezeley, the medieval Beaune, and the famous wineries of the central region. But small towns like Noyers sur Serein are well worth visits.

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  16. There's always a balance, isn't there? Readers who love the characters and the setting want everything to go on and on. But we've all read at least one book where it's clear the author has lost interest and is going through the motions. I certainly hope I quit my series before I reach that point!

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  17. Book release time is so wonderful! Congratulations. As for abandoning (yes, that's the word I'm going to use) Ariel, I feel the same way I did about Dani--don't! I love Dani and still mourn her and I suspect I would feel the same about Ariel if she slipped away. But I do know you are a very good author and whatever direction you plan to go, I'll follow and look forward to reading!

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  18. Oh, Susan, I loved this book so much, and the whole time I was reading it I was thinking, "Please write another one!! I love Ariel and the whole crew (and Camus!!!!) and the setting so much. These are the sort of books you want to live in and hate to part from. So from this reader, it's a huge PLEASE CONTINUE! (And it's a cracking good mystery!)

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    1. Debs, I'm over the moon happy you liked it. Fingers crossed for more Ariel...and Camus.

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  19. Such a hard decision, Susan, but it's always better to leave at the top of the game, isn't it? That being said, as a reader, I never want a beloved series like yours to end. Conundrum, for sure!

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  20. Some confusion here: is this book the fourth or the second in the series? Within your blog, Susan, you lead with fourth…then the small print at the bottom says “second” ? Both seem too early in a series to be ending. Elisabeth

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    1. The confusion is real. The first 2 French Village mysteries were with a publisher that didn't offer me a new contract. the next 2 are with a different publisher but they loved the characters and setting snd encouraged me to invite some of the same characters into the new stories. I loved that so much!

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    2. Susan, thank you. You and the series are new to me…and even though time may be “running out”…I will go looking for the books. Write well and write often. Elisabeth

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  21. Susan, I am embarrassed to admit I didn’t realize you are also an author (along with the Reds and, apparently, a good portion of the Readers). I naively think the blog commenters are strictly readers like I am. I will immediately be looking for your books and start at the beginning!

    To answer your question, I love reading long series. It’s fun getting to know the characters and seeing them grow into real people (at least in my mind). I have come to realize that sometimes it’s beyond the author’s control as to the length of the series, though. I guess you have to continue as long as you are still interested in the series and your publisher agrees. Congratulations on your new book. (You had me at “dog”!). — Pat S

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  22. Hi, Susan! So happy to see you here... and the new book sounds wonderful. So many of us have started with something new. I think you've got to go where your heart sends you.

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    1. Hi Hallie. sometimes my heart is in a different place than my publisher's! And sometimes my heart wants two things at once!

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  23. I get very invested in the characters of a series I love. I want it to go on forever. But if the author loses interest it shows up in the writing. Rather than quit, I've seen some authors take a break and come back refreshed after a few years to start up again.

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  24. As a reader, I want series I love to go on forever. As a writer, I believe your characters will tell you when they've said all they want to. Best advice I've ever gotten is to leave the door open. If your characters change their mind, you're ready to be their stenographer again!

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  25. I love the warmth of having an established connection to a cast of characters in a series of books. What drives me bonkers is when an author has so many people named in a book that I need to drag out my notebook to keep track of them as who knows if a character will play a significant role or not. Have any of the authors on this thread ever experienced this issue? I really enjoy the conversations in Jungle Red Writers! Thank You!

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  26. Congratulations on your new release, Susan. I'm a sucker for a book with a diet on the cover. I'm looking forward to reading "Murder and the Missing Dog". On my TBR.

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  27. I love series books as long as the story remains fresh and fun. I do have times when I am really busy and prefer not to get into a series so that is where a standalone is quite welcome.

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  28. I agreed that the cover is eye catching!

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