Oh, goodness, I asked for it, didn’t I? I invited your questions in order to gather ideas for my blog posts and I got a whole lot of them, all of which I have been wanting to rush in to answer! Thank you so much for them all. And I was foolish enough to say I would give the signed book prize to the person whose question I answered first in my blog. That would seem to imply that one of the questions was going to be better than all the others. Not so! However, I have had to choose one, the one I most want to answer first. I will draw on the other questions for my blogs for many weeks to come, but in future the winner of the giveaway book will be randomly drawn from those who leave comments! So… The first question I am going to tackle is Laura Amundson‘s (congratulations to her) and this is it:
“I’m a little obsessed with the Bedwyns, in particular Wulfric and Christine. I’ve appreciated the glimpses we’ve had of them in your later books, and by my count they’ve started on their second child and appear happy. However, given that Christine is a free spirit and he isn’t, I wonder how they manage to get along on a daily basis. Would you ever think of tackling that bump in a later book?”
A few other people asked me how I can bear to leave characters behind at the end of a series. Some of you also made specific reference to the Bedwyns.
I really love writing series. I love building a group of characters through several books, writing the perfect (I hope) love story for each of them as I go, and building to a climax with the last book and character. I always keep the one I think of as the key character of the group for last–Wulfric in the Bedwyns, Claudia in the SIMPLYs, Constantine in the Huxtables, the Duke of Stanbrook in the Survivors’ Club. And while all the love stories in the series have to be as perfect as I can make it, the final one has to be outstanding. It is the one most readers have been waiting for, and it is the one that wraps up the whole series, that leaves the final, overall impression.
I love writing series, but there is a certain amount of tension involved in the process too. I don’t want there to be a weak book among them, and the final book is particularly stressful. Expectations are high for it. I felt that especially with Wufric. I was terrified when I came to his book and made a false start with quite the wrong heroine before I discovered Christine, who was so unsuitable for him that she had to be the right one. How do I feel at the end of a series? Relieved, drained, happy to have completed a body of work I can be proud of. I have been deeply involved with that group and I have done my best for them. I can believe in their future. I have set them up to be happy with their respective spouses, provided they work on their love relationship for the rest of their lives. Of course there will be problems. I want to give the illusion that these are real people involved in real living, and there is no such thing in real life as happily-ever-after. There are bound to be tensions between Wulfric and Christine. They are so very different in personality. However, they are also complementary and are deeply attached to each other. They will deal in all the bumps in the road ahead of them.
Will I ever revisit any of the relationships I have set up in any of my books, apart from a few cameo appearances in future books? No. Their love stories are complete, and that is what I write–love stories. I couldn’t possibly do anything like creating a conflict between any of my lovers sufficient to demand another book so that they can have a second chance. That would be horrible! That would mean I had failed the first time, that my endings could not be trusted, that they are negotiable.
Besides, once I have finished with a set of characters, I can relax and enjoy them in retropsect while I move on to something new. Revisiting them would mean having to think my way back into their lives, get a feel for them again. It would not be easy, and I would be coming at them from a different place in my own life. No, I choose to leave them as they are–most of the time! Of course, I did think my way back into the two MISTRESS books (MORE THAN A MISTRESS, NO MAN’S MISTRESS) in order to write THE SECRET MISTRESS a few years later. It was not easy or particularly comfortable!
So no. There may be future glimpses of the Duke of Bewcastle and the other Bedwyns, but they will never again figure centrally in any of my books.
I have a few copies left of SLIGHTLY WICKED, the second book of the Bedwyn series (Rannulf’s story). To one person who leaves a comment here before Friday, January 25, I will send a signed copy of the book. And next time I will tackle another of the questions you asked last week. You can still add to that list, by the way.