Saturday, August 10, 2013

On Writing a Series

To series or not to series; that was the question.

by J. J. and Bette Golden Lamb
After our first co-authored medical thriller (BONE DRY) was published, we started work on our second collaboration… although we should have started much sooner than that!

It was a time of thinking, thinking, thinking about whether to do a sequel, or write something totally different. We agreed that what we didn’t want was to get involved in all the details, strictures, and rigmarole of doing a series. You know, free spirits, too many things to write about.

So, the second collaboration (Heir Today…) was a suspense-adventure novel, with romantic overtones. Both books followed that well-worn – and accurate – axiom, write about what you know. With one of us an RN and the other a journalist, well, you get the gist.

Still, while writing that second book, we never stopped thinking and talking about our first book’s lead character, RN Gina Mazzio.  We liked her … so did a lot of other people. And we kept speculating about other criminal/medical plots where Gina could get involved … without being tossed out of her hospital for being a magnet for trouble … deadly trouble.

Pulled in two directions – stand-alones or series – we compromised with an off-beat medical thriller (Sisters in Silence), where the lead character would be the killer. Certainly not a role for our favorite RN, Gina Mazzio.

One would think that long before this we would have given in to all the published evidence that readers like series, and many writers do quite well with them. (With our inherent stubbornness, we were still working on stand-alones, together and individually!)

But … Gina kept popping up, in thought and conversation. We just couldn’t abandon her. She cried out for a new adventure, to be pushed to new limits. Thus was born the second Gina Mazzio, RN medical thriller (Sin and Bone).

There it was – we had a sequel, and possibly were on our way to what we’d tried to avoid from the beginning – a series!

After two books and two attempts on her life, Gina needed a break, not from us, but from San Francisco’s Ridgewood Hospital … and all the deadly memories associated with it.
What better plan than to take off on twin travel nurse assignments with fiancé Harry Lucke, who’s been doing this sort of thing virtually his whole career. Their destination: a rehab center for Alzheimer’s patients in an area we know quite well – the country in and around Virginia City, NV.

On arrival at the Comstock Medical Auxiliary Facility, the first thing Gina notices are iron bars across all the second-floor windows. Before the day is out, her ever-present curiosity draws her and Harry into the midst of an illegal scheme to manipulate test results for an experimental drug being touted as a cure for Alzheimer’s.

It’s medicine, mines, madness, and murder.


Bette Golden Lamb, a registered nurse, has developed parallel careers as a painter, sculptor, and ceramist. Her art works can be found in a number of galleries and private collections.

Bone Pit is the third book in the Gina Mazzio, RN medical thriller series, which includes Bone Dry and Sin and  Bone. These, along with Sisters in Silence and Heir Today, were co-authored with husband J.J.

J. J. Lamb is a career writer – journalism, short stories, and novels. In addition to fiction co-authored with Bette, he is the creator of the Zachariah Tobias Rolfe III private eye series, the latest of which, No Pat Hands, is scheduled to appear in 2013.

The Lambs live in Northern California and are members of international Thriller Writers, Mystery Writers of America, and Sisters in Crime.


Jean Henry Mead said...

Welcome back to Mysterious Writers, J.J. and Bete. I look forward to reading your new novel.

Anonymous said...

Interesting article and your novel sounds like a good read.


Dana Fredsti said...

I wonder how many authors write series because the voices in their head won't stop talking... :-)

Dana Fredsti said...

I wonder how many authors end up writing series because their characters' voices won't get out of their heads...

Anonymous said...

Shirley: We think it's a good read.
Thanks for dropping by:)
Bette & J. J.

Anonymous said...

Dana. I have all kinds of characters living in that thing I call a head:),

Carole Price said...

A series just happens, like my Shakespeare in the Vineyard. Readers want to know more about Cait and RT. I have Bone Pit and looking forward to reading it.

Malena said...

I am one of those people who hopes to read more and more about Gina. She is a great character, a strong, clever female who gets the job done. So glad to hear she dogs you two to keep writing about her.

Anonymous said...

Malena, Carole, thanks for the kind words about Gina Mazzio RN. We've grown to love her, and Harry Lucke, too.
Bette & J. J.

Sandra Gardner said...

eager to start reading the Gina Mazzio RN series-- love medical thrillers! As for writing a series because the characters won't leave you alone -- yes, that's how my "mother-and-me" mystery series happened. good thing people on the street now talk (and listen) on their cell those of us who talk to and listen to our characters can blend right in....
sandy gardner

Anonymous said...

LOL! Isn't it the truth? All of us now blend in with the people walking & talking on their phones. Hope you enjoy our series. Thanks for coming by!
Bette & J. J.