Sometimes I feel like I’m the only author out there that doesn’t write series. Maybe I’m secretly part Chinese.
Chinese artist and social critic Ai Wei-Wei has described the traditional intent of Chinese art as trying to capture a whole view of the universe in one scene or work of art. He points at the Olympic Bird’s-Nest stadium in Beijing, which he helped design, as being an example. The round shape, enclosed structure, standing for the whole of Chinese culture and history – a vision of the past – a vision of everything China ever has been and ever will be contained in one structure.
In a way, this is how I write. I want to create complete stories, whole stories, stories that rise and fall and move and weave until they have exhausted their potential, until all the tales are told – OK not all the tales because more can always be written – but all the tales that I think are worth telling about this particular subject.
This is why I don’t like sequels. Sequels tend to cheapen the story. Sequels tend to retrofit plot and character in order to make it something it was never intended to be.
I’m not saying that book series can’t be good and enjoyable.
They’re just not for me.
I write stand-alone novels.
Does that mean I’ll never write a sequel to any of my books? No. I’ve learned that anything can happen. I just don’t have any interest in doing so.
After I wrote Beauty Rising, I had many people ask me if I was going to write a sequel for it. In my mind, Beauty Rising is absolutely complete. It was about Martin looking for a real home. He found it. End of story.
I had readers wonder about his mother and what happened there. (I have a future post on this topic.) For me, I don’t care. Martin’s mother was there for only one purpose, to drive Martin to fulfill his destiny. She did her part and got out of the way, like a graceful character knowing when to bow out of a scene. It was Martin’s show, and so he got the spotlight.
In the Recluse Storyteller, everything wraps up so neatly, that I can’t imagine wanting to tell any more stories from Margaret’s perspective. Her stories are exhausted. I’m on to my next book.
I want each of my novels to be a self-contained story. I don’t want to leave anything out and “save” it for #2 or #3 of the series.
So you won’t see me releasing Beauty Rising 2 or The Recluse Storyteller #5.
When I release my fifth novel, it will be my fifth stand-alone novel.
That’s just the way I do things.
I think I’ll go to my favorite Chinese stall now.