Saturday, November 14, 2015

Revisiting Old Friends and Making New Ones


Congratulations to "Hannah S.", the winner in Julie's giveaway. Thank you to all who participated!

KANSAS CITY CONFESSIONS is the 54th book I’ve written for Harlequin. The 43rd I’ve written for Harlequin Intrigue. And the 36th I’ve written for my own Precinct miniseries within Intrigue.

There’s a reason for quoting numbers here—I know several of you readers have read many if not all of those books. Why? Well, I’d like to think it might have something to do with the fabulous heroes I try to create, or the breathtaking suspense elements, or the angsty emotional journey my hero and heroine travel to their happily ever after. But one element that I believe readers come back for time and again in a Julie Miller book is to revisit familiar characters—to catch up on the lives of past heroes and heroines, to see a supporting player shine as the hero or heroine in his or her own story, and to meet a variety of supporting characters that you can imagine becoming heroes and heroines in the future. Why not? I love getting to know all those characters, too.

One of the things I’ve always love best in the romance and romantic suspense genres is the idea of connected stories and connected characters. As a reader, some of my favorite books on my keeper shelf are books connected by a community or job or family—Suzanne Brockmann’s Seal Team 6, Debra Webb’s Colby Agency, Linda Howard’s MacKenzies and the denizens of Rachel Lee’s Conard County are examples that come to mind.

So is it any wonder that I like to write connected stories, too? It’s a theme I’m drawn to time and again. I created my fictional Fourth Precinct in Kansas City, Missouri for just that purpose—to create a community of characters. In KCPD’s Fourth Precinct, you’ll meet cops with Cold Case and S.W.A.T. skills, detectives, crime scene investigators, medical examiners, investigative consultants, support staff, attorneys and citizens who all strive to bring justice to that wonderful Midwestern City (Shout-out to my Kansas City Royals for winning the World Series!) and fight to protect the people they love. Even though Intrigues are a quick read for most—and don’t you love the complete story packed into each one?—I find that when the stories are connected, it gives me a richer story experience. If a character appears in several books, I can see him or her grow. Some characters get banged up a little bit; others move through stories with an air of mystery I want to solve; and some seem too good to be true, so I’m sure there’s one heck of a backstory somewhere. And after the character has been featured, I enjoy the fun of discovering when and how s/he got married, if there are children or job changes, and if they can help someone else catch the bad guys and find an equally satisfying relationship.


One of the treats of KANSAS CITY CONFESSIONS is that the main characters, Research Analyst and Tech guru Katie Rinaldi and Detective Trent Dixon, have appeared as supporting characters in another book of mine, SEARCH AND SEIZURE. They were teenagers then, with Katie going through a harrowing kidnapping experience and Trent being the stalwart friend who helped bring her home. I had a lot of fun imagining the years in between. Why didn’t Katie and Trent get together? They work together on KCPD’s Cold Case squad and see each other every day—is the spark they once felt as teenagers still there? And how has their past shaped who they are now as adults? Having written SEARCH AND SEIZURE, I had a lot of groundwork to draw on. I also had the responsibility of making sure I stayed true to that story, and that I developed the characters in a way that made sense. I had to take them as I created them in that story and grow them into characters with skills and backgrounds that make them uniquely qualified to solve the crimes they must… and to be irresistibly drawn together and fall in love. Since KANSAS CITY CONFESSIONS wraps up my Precinct: Cold Case trilogy, it was fun, too, to draw in the characters from the two preceding stories and show them from Trent and Katie’s perspective. Again, revisiting characters enriches the reading experience, in my opinion. And, careful readers might meet a supporting character who might one day blossom into a story of his or her own. ;)

Btw, you don’t have to read SEARCH AND SEIZURE before you read KANSAS CITY CONFESSIONS. The story is complete on its own. But if you’re like me, and you enjoy visiting with old friends, you might see if you can get your hands on a copy.

Giveaway:
What are some of your favorite connected stories or mini-series? Do you have a favorite Precinct character you’d like to see in his or her own story one day? Is there a character you’d like to revisit to see how s/he is getting along? Share your thoughts. Or ask a question. I’m happy to answer. I’ll give away a digital copy of SEARCH AND SEIZURE to one lucky poster.

Giveaway ends 11:59pm EST Nov. 15th. Please supply your email in the post. You may use spaces or full text for security. (ex. jsmith at gmail dot com) If you do not wish to supply your email, or have trouble posting, please email maureen@justromanticsuspense.com with a subject title of JRS GIVEAWAY to be entered in the current giveaway.

11 comments:

  1. I haven't read any of your books yet but I do love interconnected stories and revisiting characters. Some faves are Laura K.Curtis's books. Characters from one book or series pop up in other ones; also Kelley Armstrong Women of the Otherworld books are centered around a world with characters popping up here and there, sometimes getting their own book.

    beasbooknook AT gmail DOT com

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    1. I haven't read either of those authors, but they sound like books I'd like. I'll have to check them out. :)

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  2. BDB series

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

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  3. Congrats on your latest release! I do enjoy connected stories... love seeing characters we have met before have their turn at sharing their story and also seeing updates on characters we know! There are a few series that I keep returning to...

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    1. Me, too, Colleen! The idea of connected characters sharing a community across several stories must speak to something inside us. And thanks!

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  4. I always enjoy reading connected stories. It's lovely to see favorite characters turn up time and again. Years ago I read a series where the grandmother/aunt kept popping in. The name of the series escapes me right now, but Granny/Aunt Lottie was loads of fun.

    marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

    marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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    1. Hey, Mary--I love it when wonderful supporting characters play recurring roles. Two of my most popular supporting characters were Sid & Martha--the parents of my Taylor Clan heroes/ine. Mom & Pop, apparently, struck a chord with a lot of readers.

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  5. Besides yours, which I love, adore and worship. Debra Webb's Colby Agency and its spin offs. Plus, Cherry Adair's T-Flac series, including the paranormals. Also, Jayne Ann Krantz/Jayne Castle/Amanda Quick's Arcane Society and Julie Garwoods, FBI/Buchanans series. :)

    Marika Weber

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    1. You've got a great list here, Harlie! I'm a fan of Deb Webb's, too. And I've loved Cherry Adair's books. Haven't tried the paranormal ones yet. Too many books--too little time. :(

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  6. I love your books! I wish I could most of the older ones you've done so I can read them too! I only get to read new books once every month or so when I get a small check and can buy one book. hras17@gmail.com

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    1. Hey, Hannah--good to see you here. I'm glad you followed me over from my Facebook page. ;) I appreciate that you're loving my books. Thanks!

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