Sunday, August 26, 2012

Author Robin Murphy Talks About How to Write a Book Series?

Today we’re talking to 2-time author Robin Murphy about how she planned and is
executing her new book series. Robin is the author of Sullivan’s Secret and the saga, Secret of the Big Easy. Robin’s website can be seen at

Carol Denbow: Robin, I really enjoyed Sullivan’s Secret and am looking forward to reading your newest book, Secret of the Big Easy. It must be hard to write a series of connecting books. Can you please start by telling us if when you first dreamed up Sullivan’s Secret, did you plan on a continuing saga for the book?

Robin Murphy: Hello Carol, thank you for having me here today. I will admit I didn’t decide that in the beginning of Sullivan’s Secret. I think it came to me when I realized there was so much more to tell about Marie and the SIPS team and at the end of the first book, I needed to have the characters continue on.

Carol Denbow: For a book series, do you think breaking up a complete story into segments and finding a cut-off point to start a new book would be best, or wrapping one up and then dreaming up a new “similar” storyline for the next book (similar to yours)?

Robin Murphy: As a reader I like to have a finale that leaves a hint of another story to be told. So I pulled that theory into my writing. I wanted to satisfy the reader in Sullivan’s Secret, but left it linger enough to hint there was more to come. It was natural to carry the similar storyline into Secret of the Big Easy but added a new setting, plot, and some interesting new characters.

Carol Denbow: I recall that for your first book, you traveled around to find a location to base your story from. Did you do the same for Secret of the Big Easy?

Robin Murphy: Yes I did. My husband and I took a trip to the French Quarter in New Orleans. Some of the story was already written so it was fun to have dinner at a restaurant that was mentioned in my book. I felt as if I had literally stepped into my book which helped me bring every sight, scent, and sound from N’awlins into the story.

Carol Denbow: Do you have plans to continue on with a third book?

Robin Murphy: Yes, I do. This story is going to take place in Washington, DC and explore more spirits, ghost investigations, a little dab of politics, and of course…murder.

Carol Denbow: In your opinion, how many books in a series are reasonable before a reader might “lose interest” in that story and you need to start something new?

Robin Murphy: That’s the age old question and I’ve asked myself that many times. I think it’ll be when I’m possibly tired of writing the series. It’s very clear if my writing feels flat or stale it’s going to come across to a reader. Readers are intelligent and they want to read great stories.

Carol Denbow: Writers speak about a fiction book having a beginning, the central story, and an ending. When writing a series, do you still focus on that, or is there a different recipe for writing?

Robin Murphy: I can’t speak for other writers, but for me, as I said earlier, I like to have a finale. So I incorporate those elements, but at the end leave that hint of there being more in the next book.

Carol Denbow: How long should a writer pause before releasing a new book in the series?

Robin Murphy: I don’t know if there’s a definitive answer for that. If you have an agent or a traditional publisher there may be deadlines you need to meet. Some say you don’t want to wait more than a year so the reader doesn’t forget about you or the story. For me, it was just a year since my first book was published and with working full time, that’s about all I can produce without losing my joy for writing.

Carol Denbow: Did you start working on the newest book immediately after publishing the first one, or was it already “in the works?”

Robin Murphy: I already had the ideas floating around in my head and jotting them in my journal while the first book was being published. I need to write, it doesn’t stop for me, so it continues on with lulls here and there…depending on what’s going on in my life, lol.

Carol Denbow: What advice would you give a new writer who is entertaining the idea of writing a book series?

Robin Murphy: You really need to be sure you have enough of a storyline to carry through for a series. A few tips I can offer are to be sure to bring enough back-story into the next book, but not too much as to bore the reader. It’s a bit of a fine line, but you can incorporate back-story through dialogue instead of having a detailed paragraph. I would also advise to keep notes on everything because you will inherently be re-using descriptions of characters and/or places, and you certainly don’t want to confuse the reader because you’ll lose them in a heartbeat. But one important key is to have each book worthy to stand alone. I received a great review from a reader stating that when she read Secret of the Big Easy she had enough back-story to understand the book and couldn’t wait to go back and read Sullivan’s Secret.

Carol Denbow: Robin, as always, it’s been a pleasure and we thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to chat with us today. Do you have anything you would like to add in closing?

Robin Murphy: Thank you Carol, as always it’s been fun. For writers, just have fun with your writing and don’t let anyone steal your joy. For readers, if you love paranormal mysteries go out and purchase Sullivan’s Secret and then Secret of the Big Easy. You won’t be disappointed.

Robin Murphy’s books can be found at all the usual places and on her website at


Jack Dowden said...

Very interesting interview. Thank you for sharing.

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