Thursday, April 28, 2011

Author Douglas Corleone On Writing A Series

It’s my pleasure to welcome author Douglas Corleone back to Thoughts in Progress as the special guest blogger as he makes a stop on his virtual blog tour with his second novel in the Kevin Corvelli crime series

Douglas’ latest release is NIGHT ON FIRE. Here’s a brief synopsis of it: Kevin Corvelli---a hotshot New York defense attorney who packed up his bags and hung his shingle in Hawaii to dodge the spotlight---is deep in his mai tais at a resort when an argument erupts down at the other end of the bar. It’s a pair of newlyweds, married that very day on the beach. And since Corvelli doesn’t do divorces, he all but dismisses the argument.

That’s at least until the fire breaks out later that night, and he barely escapes his hotel room. Most weren’t so lucky, including the new husband. His wife, Erin, becomes not only the police’s prime suspect for arson and murder but also Corvelli’s newest client, and she has a lot working against her, like motive and opportunity, not to mention a history of starting fires.

The heat gets turned all the way up in Douglas Corleone’s scorching legal thriller NIGHT ON FIRE, his second following the MB/MWA's First Crime Novel Competition winner, ONE MAN’S PARADISE.

Douglas stops by to talk about the pros and cons of writing the second novel.

I’m told many authors struggle when writing the second novel in a series. After experiencing it for myself with the writing of NIGHT ON FIRE, the second novel in the Kevin Corvelli crime series, I can say there are definitely pros and cons. 

One of the pros is that you already know your main characters
intimately, particularly your protagonist. By the time I set out to write NIGHT ON FIRE, Honolulu defense attorney Kevin Corvelli already seemed like an old friend. I knew his voice, I knew how he thought, I knew where he worked, and what he’d probably be doing before all hell broke loose in his life. I also knew his law partner Jake Harper and his investigator Ryan Flanagan. It was a thrill coming up with subplots for them. 

On the other hand, there were obvious cons. In many ways, writing a series is limiting. If, like Kevin Corvelli, your hero is an attorney, your setting must remain the same. Lawyers don’t go dashing off to practice in other jurisdictions on a regular basis. You might be able to pull it off once or twice in a series, but any more than that and you’d be stretching believability. Fortunately for me, the Kevin Corvelli series is set in Hawaii. I doubt I’ll ever tire of writing stories set in Honolulu, but if I do, there are three other major Hawaiian Islands I can move Kevin to, without him having to sit for another bar exam. (I’d never do that to the poor guy; we are old friends after all). 

The author of a series is also limited by actions he took in previous books. For example, in my debut novel ONE MAN’S PARADISE, Kevin had great, edgy sense of humor. If he suddenly turned dead serious in NIGHT ON FIRE, readers who loved PARADISE because they occasionally laughed out loud, would notice and undoubtedly call me on it. As well they should. 

Still, even with the limitations in place, writing NIGHT ON FIRE was a joy. Having a contract already in place gave me a sense of confidence I didn’t have when writing ONE MAN’S PARADISE. Knowing your book will reach your readers provides an enormous sense of relief, even as it adds pressure on a writer to get the story right. After all, the goal of any novelist is to get better with each book. I hope I succeeded in doing that with NIGHT ON FIRE. But that’s something I’ll gladly leave my readers to tell me.   

Douglas, thanks for stopping by again. It’s interesting learning the pros and cons of series writing.

For a bit of background on Douglas. He is the author of the Kevin Corvelli crime series set in Hawaii and his debut novel ONE MAN'S PARADISE won the Minotaur Books/Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel Award. A former New York City criminal defense attorney, Douglas now resides in the Hawaiian Islands, where he writes full-time. NIGHT ON FIRE is his second novel. For more on Douglas and his writing, check out his website at

Do you sometimes wish every book you read was turned into a series? If you’re a writer, do you favor writing a series?

(*Just a note to let everyone know, we made it through all 3 sets of terrible and deadly storms last night without any damage. It hit the southeastern part of the county again and did quite a bit of destruction. At the writing of this I hadn't heard if anyone was injured locally though I know 2 were killed in the northwestern corner of the state. My prayers are with those hardest hit by the storms.)


  1. Douglas, thanks again for being here today. I enjoy series and I understand now there are some cons to them for authors. Wishing you much success with your writing and the Kevin Corvelli crime series.

  2. Hi Mason and Douglas .. First - this storm season seems particularly terrible - glad to hear you are alright .. but as you say prayers with others whose homes, livelihoods etc have been damaged .. let alone for lost loved ones.

    2nd .. I really enjoyed reading this review .. and in reading the books I'd get a foretaste of Hawaii .. one day I shall get to visit!

    Thanks - an interesting read .. and definitely a series to read sometime ..

    With thoughts to all - Hilary

  3. What horrible damage in AL and GA! So glad you're all right, Mason.

    One thing that's nice about writing a series is that many of the characters and settings are established from the first book...a little less work the second time around. :)

  4. Mason - I'm glad to hear you're all right after the terrible storms! Thanks for hosting Douglas.

    Douglas - Thanks for sharing your thoughts on writing a second novel in a series. There are certainly pros and cons to it, but I think the pros outweigh the cons. Really knowing one's characters lets one explore them a little more deeply. And you can still experiment a little to keep from falling into a rut.

  5. Mason, We too have had so much damage here in MO--water and wind. I -so far- am ok.

    Douglas, Much luck on your second book. Sounds great.

  6. Mason -- Glad you're all right. It was hairy here for a little while last night but nothing happened.

    Douglas -- Much continued success with your series. Kevin sounds like a hoot.

    I'm trying to loosely put a series together. Same character, different plots. Don't know if it will work yet, but I do like series books. I like the comfort of "knowing" the main characters.

  7. I really like mysteries set in Hawaii and I have my eye on this one.

    Book Dilettante

  8. From a reader´s point of view, I love series. I love knowing I am going to meet old friends and see what is happening to them. But this winter I have plotted a ´second´ for the first time, and I don´t really know if I got stuck because it was a second or for other reasons. I think I´ll be able to fix the problems at some point, but right now I have turned to other projects.

  9. After writing a sequel I never planned, I can relate to the challenges!

  10. I agree that there are definite issues when writing the second book. I've not written a sequel to any of my books but just writing the second novel was tough enough. There were so many expectations (most of them my own) to get over before I could relax and just write.


  11. Thanks for posting this. I don't think I've come across any books set in Nebraska. Sounds like this would be a good read. Actually that would be a good challenge - to read a book set in each of the states.

  12. Thanks for all the wonderful comments! I'm happy to report that Book 3 was the most enjoyable to write thus far, so maybe it does get easier in time...



I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.