To celebrate the recent release of her new thriller, Where the Snow Bleeds, Ruby Fiction author Wendy Dranfield is weighing up the age-old writerly question: standalone or series 🤔
I’m excited to be on the Choc Lit blog today to celebrate the release of my second Ruby Fiction crime novel, Where the Snow Bleeds.
This is the second book in the series (Who Cares If They Die was released in 2018) which follows Dean Matheson in his journey to becoming the homicide detective he’s always wanted to be. Unfortunately for Dean, he’s his own worst enemy so it’s not a straightforward journey!
As a writer, the question I get asked most (after ‘where do you get your ideas from?’) is whether it’s easier to write sequels than it is to write standalone novels. When I wrote Who Cares If They Die, I had no idea it would become a series. I’d never written a series before and I started the book completely intending for it to be standalone. But I had a lot of fun creating the fictional town Maple Valley, and the characters were so enjoyable to write about that I didn’t want to leave them by the end of the book. Once I’d finished it, I wanted to know how they got on after everything that had happened to them (or should I say; everything that I’d put them through!).
So I started work on a sequel. I loved returning to the characters – by now they were like old friends – but I found it really difficult to write at first, mainly because I started with no plan or plot, even though that had worked for book 1. I spent months playing around with writing the first 40k words before finally realising I didn’t like what I’d written. So I scrapped it all and started afresh. Once I started afresh, changing the location from hot Nevada to cold Colorado, the words and the characters came to life. However, it wasn’t much easier than writing book 1 because the setting had changed. Dean was no longer living in Maple Valley, so some of the ground work I did in book 1 didn’t matter for book 2. I imagine if a writer stays in the same location, with the same characters, it’s slightly easier and less time-consuming than starting afresh.
As I had received some great reviews for Who Cares If They Die, I knew readers liked my characters – Rocky the wannabe police dog seems to be a favourite! This helped boost my confidence for writing book 2 and for my plan to stay with Dean Matheson for at least three books. Book 3 is now finished and it takes Dean’s life somewhere I really wasn’t expecting, so now I have to write book 4 to see what happens next! In a way, it’s like writing your own Netflix entertainment! I find myself visualising this series as a TV show as I write, which is why I made book trailers for both books, in the style of movie trailers.
What I’ve learned from writing three books in a series compared to writing a standalone novel, is that writing a series is only slightly easier than writing standalone novels because the groundwork is already done for each sequel, in terms of characters and location, but unfortunately it still doesn’t write itself! You still need to write a whole novel that you, your publisher and your readers are happy with!
About the Book
“You want to know what I’ve learnt after living in Lone Creek all my life? I know the snow bleeds here …”
Former police officer Dean Matheson has been playing it safe since the case that cost him almost everything. But working as a PI doesn’t quite cut it, that is until a British woman walks into his office with a job that Dean can’t resist.
The woman’s daughter, Hannah Walker, and her friend Jodie have gone missing whilst working at a ski resort in Colorado. It’s clear there’s something sinister about the girls’ disappearance, but then why are the local police department being so unhelpful?
So begins Dean’s journey to Lone Creek on the trail of the missing girls – and he’ll soon find out that in Lone Creek, everyone has something to hide …
About the Author
Wendy is a former Coroner’s Assistant turned crime writer who lives in the UK with her husband.
Who Cares If They Die and Where the Snow Bleeds are the first two books in the Dean Matheson series, with more on the way. As well as her crime thriller series, Wendy has written a YA crime novel – The Girl Who Died – and she has several short stories published in UK and US anthologies. She has also been shortlisted and longlisted for various competitions, including the Mslexia Novel Competition.
For behind the scenes gossip and updates on her books (or photos of her cats), follow her on social media!