Coming home to a place that I’ve never been before.
John Denver might have been reading a romance series when he wrote that line, because that’s how it feels to me when I lose myself in a place like Robyn Carr’s Virgin River.
I think I got hooked on book series when I was a kid. The Famous Five and the Secret Seven were series. I joined George and Julian and the others on adventure after adventure. I felt like I was part of their gang, which felt wonderful to a kid growing up in a small town where there weren’t many kids my age. Or, at one point, any other kids at all.
Then came the Silver Brumbies. For a horse mad kid, coming back again and again to spend time with Thowra and Bel Bel was almost like having a pony of my own.
The loves we develop as kids never go away.
In 2011, in New York City, I was at a Romance Writers of America conference and I met Robyn Carr. She wouldn’t remember me – I was one face in a crowd. But I remember her. There as a copy of the first Virgin River book for every body at the event. I read it and had that feeling… going home to a place I’d never been before.
Mel and Jack and Preacher and Doc and Hope all became my friends. And suddenly there were 17 Virgin River books on my reader and I was ordering number 18.
So what is it about a good series that brings us back again and again?
It’s the people. I say people rather than characters because to me that’s what they are. They are old friends. I know they will welcome me. They will share their joys and pains, their hopes and dreams with me… and isn’t that what friends do? In return, I will care about them and stay with them until they get that happy ending that I know is coming in the final chapter.
I’ve read these books many times. In fact, there’s one on by bedside table as I write this. It doesn’t matter that I know how the books ends. After all, I read romantic fiction – I always know how it’s going to end. What matters is the journey. Taking it – and most importantly of all, sharing it.
The town of Virgin River itself is part of it. I love the scenery and the mountains, the tang of snow in the air and the sound of the river. Don’t tell me it’s not real, because I can see it and smell it and taste Preacher’s food.
Of course you can do all that in a single title book. Many good authors do and it’s wonderful. But coming back to a place you already know gives you a chance to see the happy ever after played out for characters you’ve already met and love. And they’ll probably introduce me to new people who’ll soon become new friends.
That’s what I mean by that “coming home” feeling. It’s a feeling I try to share with my readers when they come home with me to Coorah Creek, or the Hunter Valley or the other places I am already planning to return to in my next books.
My characters are my friends – and I miss them if I stay away too long.
Writing a Series: it’s just like coming home – Short Course
We are told publishers love a series. Readers do too. This course with multi-award winning author Janet Gover looks at all the S words – series, sequel, and standalone. They are not so far apart as they might seem. We’ll look at how to create a series arc as well and a character arc. How to give your reader that feeling of coming home to family and old friends every time they pick up one of your books. Practical issues such as keeping a series bible and ensuring consistency will sit alongside discussions of what readers and publishers are looking for and how to meet those expectations. Exercises and Q&A sessions will help you craft your series.
A work in progress – but it need not be finished.
Hours of Commitment
10 – 20 hours
Course Dates: 4th October – 31st October 2021
Cost: RWA-Member – $55.00 Non RWA-Member – $66.00
* Please note, there is a $0.50 Trybooking fee at checkout.
Venue: Online – RWA Moodle Platform
(Course attendees will be notified of access/login details via email from the RWA Academy Registrar a few days prior to the start date of the course)
About the presenter
Janet Gover is the author of the multi-award winning Coorah Creek series. She has 14 published books under two names – and has twice been shortlisted for a RuBY Award. She is a much sought-after writing tutor, running retreats and courses in both Australia and the UK, where she also leads the Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writers’ Scheme. In her ‘other life’ she is a bit of a computer geek and qualified in online adult training. She is also a well-trained cat servant and a not-entirely-awful cook. Her website is www.janetgover.com and you can find her on twitter @janet_gover and Fb https://www.facebook.com/janetgoverbooks