I don’t know that I ever thought too much about it, but soon after we write our first book, we as authors have to make a decision about book number two.
Namely, does the story and the characters of book number two happen in the same “world” as book number one? And if it does, then perhaps down the road, as we write a separate series, we get to decide again: does Series X happen in the same “World” as Series Y?
One of my favorite things about writing my 19th book, as I’m doing now, is that my characters are existing in a BIG story universe. Not only are the characters of my Second Chance Fire Station in the same town as my Main Street Minden Series, they get to visit Bloom’s Farm, from the Bloom Sisters Series. They can hear about events happening over in my romantic suspense series (Black Tower Security).
The character cameos from people 10 or 15 books ago are so fun to write.
Of course, it’s also a LOT to keep track of. Characters, yes. But for me? It’s the timeline. Phew. How long have they been married? How old would that toddler be now? That hotel that was under construction in book number 5? It’s been hosting guests for a decade!
I love tying in characters and places readers have seen before — it’s a bit like “Easter Eggs” in movies that my reader can recognize. Miss Ruth who gave that nugget of wisdom? Oh, I know her. Sometimes, I even hide connections with OTHER fictional places.
Here are a few of my favorite cameos/hidden connections from my books:
- Krystal Daughtry in The One Who Got Away was an actress for “Faithmark,” my fictional wholesome television company. When it was time for her to go film a movie, she went to Snow Hill, Pennsylvania. A place readers of Jess Mastorakos might recognize from her Christmas in Snow Hill series famous for being the preferred shooting location for those kind of films!
- Avery from my book Hoping for Hawthorne lived in Freedom, Colorado (from the multi-author series Heroes of Freedom Ridge) before moving back to Indiana.
- Harrison Coulter, whose marriage of convenience catapulted him into State and then Federal politics during the last four books of the Bloom Sisters Series– becomes The President of the United States in Hostile Intent, one of my romantic suspense books.
- Lily and Josh Bloom’s relationship (the story told in Longing for Lily) was foreshadowed nearly 7 books prior in Spring Fever — an entirely different series.
Sometimes, I know it can be confusing to look at an author’s list of books and wonder — where do I start? Well, I put together a (short!) Youtube video about that for my books — but here’s the basics.
Chronologically, The Main Street Minden Series happens first. But — I actually recommend starting with the Bloom Sisters Series if you’ve never read anything by me. From there, you can follow whichever path you want — doubling back to Minden in the Main Street Minden Series, continuing on to Second Chance Fire Station or into the romantic suspense world.
My goal is always that you can pick up any book of mine — without any previous knowledge — and enjoy a fantastic story with a satisfying ending without being confused. But for those who read through the series or across the different series, I hope the extra cameos, easter eggs, and familiar places and events will make the experience even more fun!
Do you enjoy it when authors have a lot of crossover between series and books? When does it become overwhelming or feel like you’re a bit lost? Which authors do you know do this really well? I love to backlist binge, so give me all the ideas.