My fellow Miss Demeanor, Connie Berry, posted recently on the topic of when it’s time to end a series. The timing was perfect for me to raise the opposite question. When is time to create a series?
Most often, writers know they are creating a series when they write the first book. They envision future plots that will involve the protagonist and her supporting cast. I knew when I wrote No Virgin Island that Sabrina and her bff Henry had lots of adventures in their future. I journaled as if I were Sabrina, to explore what might be going on in her mind and in her heart. I’m now beginning the fifth book in the series and finding no shortage of material. These people just can’t stop getting into trouble!
It was different when I wrote Oh Danny Girl more than a decade ago. I barely accepted I was a writer and often apologized that writing was my hobby. I didn’t dare to think a book I was writing might be published, let alone become a series.
Oh Danny Girl is the story about a young lawyer who heads to court one morning for an uncontested divorce when a gun is discovered in her briefcase and linked to a murder trial in which her hotshot defense attorney husband represents a cop killer. The same morning her husband is found naked and murdered in a Boston hotel with another woman. It is the story about Danny O’Brien, who is named after her father.
But it is also the story about Danny’s mother, Nora O’Brien. Widowed in her fifties, Nora combats grief and boredom by attending law school. When Nora graduates, she expects Danny will hire her as an associate in her tiny practice of one. Danny is reluctant but Nora is persuasive and thrilled to be what Danny calls a baby lawyer. And so, the games begin.
When I resurrected Oh Danny Girl this year and breathed life into the old girl, I enjoyed reacquainting myself with the characters I had created and then placed on a shelf to accumulate dust. I had to introduce them to 2022 and its technical devices and social media. I realized how much I liked these people and how painful it had been to leave them behind again. I didn’t want to abandon them.
My mantra: Let the reader decide
And then came the wisdom and praise from readers. Was this going to be a series, they hoped. Well, yes, of course it is, I gulped. Because Nora has a few stories of her own to tell and Danny has plenty more.
I began thinking about what it must be like to start a new career in your fifties, prepare for a trial in a court before a judge, face younger colleagues too clueless to be insecure. What would it be like to have your daughter be your boss? Are you too old for love in your fifties? For sex?
You can find out the answers to these questions in the second book in the Danny and Nora O’Brien series. No No Nora features Nora O’Brien as she prepares for her first contested divorce trial. Her client is a nightmare and the judge assigned to the case a catastrophe. When divorce becomes murder, Nora wonders if her first trial will be her last and begins to understand why divorce lawyers are the ones murdered most often in the legal profession.
Yes, a series is born. Look for No No Nora in October 2022.
C. Michele Dorsey is the author of Oh Danny Girl, the first in the Danny and Nora O’Brien mysteries, and the Sabrina Salter series, including No Virgin Island, Permanent Sunset, Tropical Depression, and Salt Water Wounds. Michele is a lawyer, mediator, former adjunct law professor and nurse, who didn’t know she could be a writer when she grew up. Now that she does, Michele writes constantly, whether on St John, outer Cape Cod, or anywhere within a mile of the ocean.