Monday, July 02, 2007

Connect the Dots

I know of several authors in this market (and by that I mean the LDS Romance market, although I don't necessarily consider myself a romance author per se) write books that are interconnected. They often do this on purpose to keep readers coming back.

Sometimes the books are in series, and other times they're what's called "spin-offs," where you take a minor character from one book and write an entire book around them in the next. Sometimes a series evolves from what began as a spin-off. Rachel Ann Nunes has said that every single one of her novels is connected in some way to another one, and if you go to her website, she has a page where she explains how all twenty-something are interwoven.

At first glance, you'd think my books aren't really connected. And you'd be right, with the obvious exception of House on the Hill and At the Journey's End, since one is basically a spin-off (or would that be sequel?) of the other. Actually, come to think of it, I'm not sure which you'd call it, since ATJE takes just one major character from the first book and continues with the story. The rest of the characters from HOTH are left behind. But it is a major character, not a minor one. So what do you call that?

Regardless, only my most astute readers will have caught the threads that connect my books to one another. I'm doubting whether anyone has caught them all, but I'm hereby revealing them, because I had fun planting them, and they were deliberate. :)

In my first book, Lost Without You, the main character, Brooke, performs in the play Into the Woods as the Witch. For the part, she ends up dying her hair red and getting it permed to match a long wig extension.

In my second book, At the Water's Edge, Kenneth comes home from Finland after falling for Annela but suddenly being asked for a second chance by his ex-girlfriend, who dumped him right before he left. On his first date after his return, they attend a performance of Into the Woods with a remarkably talented actress with curly red hair playing the Witch. (Got it? Good!)

Also in At the Water's Edge, Kenneth and Annela discover a bond from their pasts with some of their ancestors. They have great-grandfathers who both worked in Utah's Scofield Mine (where a large proportion of miners were from Scandinavia, including Finland) when it blew up. Kenneth's great-grandfather was rescued by Annela's great-grandfather, following which, he returned home to Finland. (Side note here: At some point, I hope to write a book about the Scofield mine disaster, which is another reason I mentioned it here.)

So how in the world does that connect with House on the Hill, a book set more than a hundred years previous with totally different characters and in a different setting? Well, I did manage to plant a thread:

In House on the Hill, Joshua goes to help his brother build a house in a new mining town: Scofield. (DING!)

And of course the connection between House on the Hill and At the Journey's End is screamingly clear, being as it takes an entire character from the epilogue and tells the rest of his story.

As for my next book? Yes, there's the continued temple connection. But there are a couple of other threads that connect it to At the Journey's End. (You know me; I HAD to include them, right?)

1) Near the beginning of At the Journey's End, Maddie has some of her students rehearsing a scene from a play. Spires of Stone is a retelling of that play. (Bonus points for anyone who remembers a) the play and b) the two characters in the scene.)

AND

2) Spires of Stone takes place in 1867, when the character who appears in both House on the Hill and At the Journey's End is only ten AND living in Salt Lake City. So I threw him into a brief scene for fun, along with his father. Only readers of the previous books will recognize the two characters for who they are.


As for a thread (or threads) connecting Spires with the next one? I'm not sure yet, being as I'm still very much in the drafting stage. But you can be sure there will be a thread or two.

Watch for them!

8 comments:

Rebecca Talley said...

Wow, you're good. It amazes me how you can keep track of all of that.
How do you? Notebook, notecards, head?

Brillig said...

Awesome! This was so fun to read! And now, well, it looks like I have a LOT of reading to do! One of these days.... you know... when my house is clean... and the kids are quiet... and the laundry is folded... Okay, fine. I'll just drug them all with benadryl and get a-reading.

Annette Lyon said...

Rebecca, don't be THAT impressed! I generally don't come up with a connection until the next book and only then try to figure out how I can connect it to the one before. This time around I knew what I'd be writing next, so it was fun to throw in the students practicing the scene as well as the little guy in that one scene to say hi.

Brillig--My grandmother reportedly drugged her kids to get things done, and Dad turned out all right. :) Then again, she was raising eleven in a 2-bedroom house with no bathroom . . .

Luisa Perkins said...

Fun stuff! I, of course, know the answers to your quiz question--but I won't reveal them here.

All four of the novels still in my head (including the one I'm frantically finishing) are connected, but only by location. In this way only do they resemble the work of Faulkner. ;)

Annette Lyon said...

And if they resembled Faulkner in any other way, I'd have to shun you. :D

Brillig said...

By the way, I just gave you an award on my site! It's not quite like medaling in the Best of State Fiction awards, but hey... it was heartfelt, okay?

Catherine said...

Annette, I love books!

Thanks for coming by, and for your comment - its such an important topic, I'm grateful to know that people "heard." And I'm happy to "meet" you!

:)

Julie Wright said...

I'm such an unobservant reader, but very cool threads in your books. I can't believe you keep it all straight either! I did catch the into the woods thread only because I am so madly in love with the play and when things are going wrong in my life I find myself singing, "I wish . . ." (I sing that song a lot!) :)

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