Jilly: Multi-Generational Stories

An unexpected corona-bonus is that author book launches have gone digital. Which means fans who would never have the chance to attend a physical talk and book signing can join in the fun.

This week the Cary Memorial Library in Massachusetts hosted a conversation with fantasy romance authors Ilona Andrews (Ilona and Gordon, in Texas), Nalini Singh (in New Zealand), and Amanda Bouchet (in Paris). I watched from London, and now it’s on Youtube. How cool is that? Click here if you’d like to check it out.

There were lots of good questions about world building, what makes a strong character, what makes a great villain…but one that caught my attention was something like: do you have any plans to make your much-loved stories multi-generational? In other words, to give the kids of your bestselling characters their own story or series. Amanda Bouchet and Nalini Singh weren’t at that point, but Ilona Andrews are currently writing Blood Heir/Ryder, whose heroine is Julie, the adopted daughter of Kate and Curran from their bestselling Kate Daniels series. I’m super-excited about this book (click here for an early squee) and already have it on pre-order.

Ryder feels like a natural progression. After a ten-book series Kate and Curran are due a hard-earned Happy Ever After, but many fans aren’t ready to say goodbye to the world, and the series is rich in secondary characters. It’s made easier by the fact that Julie (alias Aurelia Ryder) was a street kid in her early teens when she first encountered Kate, so she’s only half a generation younger. That means the Ryder book can begin eight years after the conclusion of the Kate Daniels series—long enough for everything to be the same but different.

The question caught my attention because I’m currently writing a multi-generational epic fantasy series. Unlike the natural flow of the Ilona Andrews stories, mine crept up on me. After I finish with my Elan Intrigues books (one currently published, one book and two novellas in the works), I have a series in my head, set in the same world, starring the adult children of the main characters of the Elan Intrigues series. Alexis, the heroine, is twenty-five years old at the beginning of the main series. That’s a whole generation after the end of the Intrigues books. It didn’t occur to me to question it until now.

I started to think about how many other multi-generational stories I’ve read and enjoyed. I love Georgette Heyer’s Devil’s Cub, about Vidal, the son of the characters from These Old Shades. Loretta Chase has Last Night’s Scandal, starring characters we first met as children in Lord Perfect. That one didn’t quite work for me, though I’ve often wished she’d write a story for Dominick, Dain’s illegitimate son from Lord of Scoundrels. The most obvious example, which I haven’t read but I know Michaeline loves, is Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan saga. Other than those, I’m coming up empty.

So I thought I’d turn the question over to you. Does the concept of a multi-generational series appeal to you? Have you read any good (or bad) ones?

Michaeline: Bujold’s eARC, Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen (also: What’s an eARC?)

a Holliday Junction -- some sort of DNA thing. In four colors. Should be three for this book.

Genetic manipulation is a little bit scary — if we set it 800 years in the future, it’s a little easier to look at.

First, the biggest news of my week. On October 21, 2015, Lois McMaster Bujold’s new book, Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen, went up for sale as an eARC over on Baen.com (her publisher’s website here).

GJ&RQ is a wonderful book. If you love the Vorkosigan series, I heartily recommend it. If you haven’t sampled the Vorkosigan series yet, I suggest you start at the start with Cordelia’s Honor (an omnibus of Shards of Honor and Barrayar) and work your way through the entire saga. Not because it’s necessary, per se, but because you’ll be able to really appreciate Bujold’s fine sense of nuance. She’s a master of backstory, of showing how past events continue to echo throughout a life. On the one hand, the parts of GJ&RQ add up to a beautiful wholeness in a territory we don’t see much in either speculative fiction nor romance. But when you know what came before, you get something even bigger than the book in your computer files. You get a life. A life that isn’t finished at 76 by any means. Continue reading