Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Author Douglas Corleone On Ending A Series

It’s always a pleasure to welcome an author back to Thoughts and author Douglas Corleone is returning today as his third novel, LAST LAWYER STANDING, hits bookstores.

Doug is the author of the Kevin Corvelli crime series published by St. Martin's Minotaur. Here’s a brief synopsis of his latest release, LAST LAWYER STANDING:

Defense attorney Kevin Corvelli fled from New York to Hawaii after the sensational death of one of his clients three years ago. Now, in the wake of another client’s death—a client Kevin had fallen in love with—Kevin would run again if only he could pull himself free from a couple of high-profile, high-risk cases. The FBI is investigating the poisoning of a young woman who happened to be Governor Wade Omphrey’s mistress. The governor was off the island at the time, but that doesn’t mean that he didn’t order the hit or that he doesn’t need a hotshot lawyer like Corvelli defending him.

Then the DEA raids a local meth lab and Turi Ahina is picked up in the sweep. A career criminal, Ahina has set Corvelli up with plenty of client referrals, but Corvelli owes him for much more than that ever since Ahina saved his life. Now Ahina’s only way out is to turn in the big man, and he can’t just tell the FBI who it is—they already know that. He needs to find him and set a trap, a trap that won’t succeed without Corvelli’s help. The plan is simple, as foolproof and dangerous as a suicide attempt.

As the stakes rise, Corvelli gets drawn in deeper and deeper until the only way he can escape is to stick it out to the end in LAST LAWYER STANDING, Douglas Corleone’s most compelling legal mystery yet.

Doug joins us today to talk about a reader’s worst nightmare - when an author ends a series.

last lawyer standingSaying goodbye is never easy – unless it’s to a miserable job or to your in-laws or to a particularly nasty head cold. But sometimes saying goodbye to a good thing is necessary, too. As an author it’s sometimes necessary to move on from what first got you published in order to move to the next level in your career. I’m talking, of course, about ending a series.  

In genre fiction, series have their pros and cons, for both the writer and the reader. Picking up a second or third or twelfth book in a series is like catching up with an old friend. You immediately experience that comfortable familiarity and within a few minutes (or a few pages) it’s as though you were never apart.  

Knowing you’re going to pick up where you left off makes it easy for a reader to follow several of their favorite authors without having to keep hundreds of different characters and dozens of unfamiliar settings in mind. Once a reader finds a character she adores, she wants to know what’s happening in that character’s life after the initial adventure that brought them together.  

For a writer, continuing a series cuts out a lot of the early legwork. Developing a fresh protagonist for a single book isn’t easy. Developing one for each new book you write over thirty or forty years can drive you insane. If every new protagonist has a different career, there’s an awful lot of research involved. (That’s probably why you see an awful lot of protagonists who are writers.)

On the other hand, developing new characters and creating new settings is part of the excitement of writing novels. Researching new careers enables a writer live several different lives throughout their own writing career. And, of course, if the series that got you published didn’t break you out as an author, moving on can feel a lot like moving forward.  

So it’s bittersweet for me to say goodbye to hotshot Honolulu defense attorney Kevin Corvelli. Kevin was with me for three books, from my debut ONE MAN’S PARADISE through my sophomore effort NIGHT ON FIRE, right up through 2012’s LAST LAWYER STANDING. I cherish every minute and every page I spent with Kevin and his colleagues and lovers. And I’ll miss him in 2013. But I’ll also be experiencing the excitement only a new series can bring.  

Next spring, my international thriller GOOD AS GONE will be released. It will feature a former U.S. Marshal named Simon Fisk, who specializes in recovering missing children around the globe. How long Simon sticks around will largely be left up to the readers. But there are high expectations going in, and I for one, can’t wait to see what happens next.    
Doug, thanks for returning to Thoughts and giving us a look at how ending a series also effects the writer. I can say as a reader, I don’t look forward to a series ending but I do look forward to finding a new series to begin. 

Doug’s debut novel, ONE MAN’S PARADISE, was nominated for the 2010 Shamus Award for Best First Novel. A former New York City defense attorney, Doug now lives in the Hawaiian Islands, where he is currently at work on his next novel.  

For more on Doug and his writing, visit him online at www.douglascorleone.com.

What are your thoughts on a series ending? If you’re a writer, why would you continue or end a series? If you’re a reader, do you think a series should go on for only a short run or indefinitely as long as the writing remains true? Thanks so much for stopping by today. Have a great Tuesday.


  1. Doug, thanks again for returning to Thoughts. I hate to see a series end but you make a great point about starting a new one. Wishing you much success.

  2. Mason - Thanks for hosting Doug.

    Doug - Thanks for your insights on ending a series. I really admire and respect an author who has the initiative to end a series when it's the right time to do so - in the way the author wants to do so. Yes it's hard on readers but that's the best way. Good for you to know when the time was right.

  3. As a reader, it saddens me when the series end because I have invested so much in those characters. However, I know that as a writer, it's sometimes nice to have new material to write.

  4. Thanks for the terrific comments. It's unfortunate, but these days, it's more an economic decision than anything. If you don't break out in the first few books of a series, chances are you're going be midlist for a long time (and then it becomes very difficult to make any kind of a living). I know advice aspiring writers often receive is "Don't write for the market." That may have been good advice 10 years ago, but today, I think it should be reconsidered. The book I have coming out next spring (an international thriller) was written for the market, and I received my first really exciting contract for it. It'll hopefully launch my career in a way I couldn't do with small-scope mysteries. Of course, I'll continue to read mysteries and hope that one day I'll be in a position to write them again.

  5. Hi Mason .. great sounding author - with the kind of books I enjoy reading ..

    Doug - great that you realise you need to move on .. so your books don't get stale. Both series sound fascinating .. and as you say - you're leaving your options open for future forays ..

    Great interview - thanks .. Hilary


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