What do you do with your Thanksgiving turkey after the Thanksgiving feast has been cleared away? Next day, Friday, it’s Thanksgiving all over again with a plate of sliced turkey, mashed potatoes, some of the sweet potato casserole, the leftover peas or broccoli, slathered with gravy and served piping hot from the microwave. Saturday: turkey sandwiches. Sunday?
You make a nice turkey casserole. On Monday, the family rebels and sends out for pizza, but you sneak a little diced turkey under the layer of cheese and mushrooms. On Tuesday, unexpected guests arrive. They are happy to dig into turkey pot pies, but what about the family?
Writing a mystery series is very similar to dealing with that turkey. How do you keep it appetizing for everyone who comes to the table? The fifth or sixth installment should feel like a first serving for those who just discovered your books. This means you have to give enough background information about the main relationships so as not to confuse that new reader, yet you don’t want to bore your family of readers who have been with you since Book #1. Not to push a metaphor too far, you start wishing there were a 101 Turkey Recipes for the series mystery writer.
All of which is to say that I finished writing Sand Sharks, my 15th Deborah Knott mystery, last Monday night at 10:28 p.m. My editors and agent are reading it now and I’m waiting for their reaction. Did I rehash too much of Judge Knott’s history or does it need a little more meat? Does it still please the experienced reader’s taste buds or do I need more pepper and less celery? We won’t be sure until August when the book is published and readers new and old weigh in on it.