Edith here, enjoying the fresh produce of summer. I met author Denise Swanson in Ann Arbor a couple of years ago. She has a cozy series with its nineteenth book coming out next month! I asked her to share how she got to where she is. Take it away, Denise.
Riding the Whirlwind
For most writers, getting their first book traditionally published is a long and arduous journey. Yes. There’s always that one lucky duck who hits the trifecta on her first submission—right editor, right story, right open spot on marketing plan. But for the rest of us, it takes a long time and a lot of tears to find an agent and a publishing house.
I had two hundred and seventy rejection slips from agents before I finally won the race. And even then, it took the agent who signed me eighteen months to find a publisher. Back then, nearly twenty years ago, cozy mysteries were nowhere near as popular and since I wanted to set mine in the Midwest rather than the south, with a curvy sleuth who had an unusual profession, few editors wanted to take the chance on a book that didn’t fit the mold.
In fact, my editor at NAL/Signet/Penguin cautioned me that because my Scumble River series was a regional mystery that would only interest a limited audience mainly in the Midwest. With the first book in its fifteenth printing and the nineteen book, Murder of a Cranky Catnapper, due out September 6, I think she might have underestimated the small-town appeal.
However, there are drawbacks to a long running series. Stagnation is always a risk. As an author, I have to make a concerted effort to allow my characters to change and grow. This means that Skye, my sleuth, has lost cars, houses, and boyfriends. She’s had to alter her goals, expectations, and how she deals with her mother. And most of all, she’s had to mature from a woman who was running away from a life she didn’t want to someone who runs towards the life she does want.
Now that my heroine is married, I’ve been asked if I plan on ending the Scumble River series. But since I don’t think a woman’s journey end when she finds the man of her dreams, the answer is no. I think having a husband and children will push Skye into even more exciting adventures. Bring on book number twenty!
Readers: What do you like about long running series?
New York Times Bestselling author Denise Swanson writes the Scumble River and Devereaux’s Dime Store mysteries, as well as the Change of Heart contemporary romances. She lives in rural Illinois with her husband and big black cat. For more information, please visit her at DeniseSwanson.com. Or come hang with her at her Facebook group.