Is there a point at which a series author needs to know when to give their fans what they want, when authors put off a book that is past overdue to be written? When has an author strung the fans along enough for either marketing or “creative” reasons? I have been asking myself these questions a lot lately. I am not saying that author’s need to take advice or plot direction from their fans – not at all. If I could write, I would. I can’t, so I read. I want them to come up with the plots, the dialogue, the characters, etc. That isn’t what I am talking about. I am talking about a trend that I see that is driving me nutty. The idea that, within a series, there is a couple that everyone knows is going to come together, but the author keeps putting that book off. Is there a point at which enough is enough and the author should just write what the fans want and stop stringing them along?
Let me give you a few examples. First off, I like G.A. Aiken’s Dragon Kin series. There are five books in the series with a few short stories from anthologies, as well. In the second book, About a Dragon, published November 2008, there was a potential couple that was introduced – Izzy and Eibhear. Izzy is the hero Briec’s step daughter and Eibhear is his brother. The two seemed destined to be together from the start. It is now three books later, at one published a year, and the two are still not together though their story continues to be a subplot. It is getting frustrating. I understand that the author may have a big story arc going on in their head, and I am fine with that. So far, I understand what she felt needed to happen between the two and I can understand. But to wait four years to write the story that you prep the reader on in another story? Is that asking too much? Is this done for artistic reasons or marketing purposes? That I even have to ask myself that disturbs me.
Shall I give another example? J.R. Ward’s very popular Black Dagger Brotherhood series. The tenth book will be published in March, Lover Reborn. In the fourth book (again, at an average of one a year), a controversial couple began to be hinted at. Many fans were at first blindsided by the love story of Blay and Qhuinn, two men who work for the Brothers. And I understand that maybe some of the delay in their story being written was a concern with how the market would take their story and time to convince the publishers that this was the story that the fans wanted. But, again, at what point have the fans waited long enough? Is there a point when the fans will start to give up on an author?
So far, with these two series, I am hanging on strong. But the other day, when I went to look at one of G.A. Aiken’s other series under the name Shelly Laurenston, I have to admit – I didn’t buy the book and start on the next series. I was intimidated. I was afraid that another sub plot would end up stealing the show and I wasn’t willing to set myself up for that. Although the next Dragon Kin book, How To Drive a Dragon Crazy, has just been announced (2/15/12) to be about Izzy and Eibhear, I am still leery to start another series that would result in a long wait.
I know that if I steered away from series romances, this problem would disappear. But I like them. I like the continuity of a family of characters and the way we get to “return” to beloved characters. I like never having to say good bye to them completely. However, I will admit, there is a limit to how long an author can string me along. And some of my favorite authors are flirting with the edge of that cliff.
Does anyone else feel this way? Is there an author you see flirting on that edge? Am I being unreasonable in wanting my cake (a series) and wanting to eat it too (getting the books I want)? What are your thoughts?
– Louise AAR