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Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Can you have too much?

I can attest to the fact sometimes you can be given more than you can accommodate. Now, now, don't let your mind wander off on a tangent. I'm talking about backstory! Really!

I recently joined a local romance writers group SARA and at our latest meeting we got to talking about backstory. We all know that every story begins before you read page one. The hero and heroine had a life before you waded into their adventure. As a reader you need to know some of that backstory but not all of it. Who cares if the heroine had to wear canary yellow shoes to church or if the hero used to have bladder control problems as a toddler? I can guarantee we have all read books where we want to yell, "Get on with it already!" So, as writers we are conscious of not writing pages and pages of drivel you as readers don't want to read. I know if I get bored with endless descriptions and backstory I skim, and I assume I am not alone.

Now, add a twist to the backstory problem. What if you write a series? I enjoy reading series because you get to continue reveling in the lives of characters you already know and love. However, I hate, hate, hate, the information dump on page one. Yes, I know who the heroine is and what she does for a job. I know what happened in the last book and the one before and the one before. Unfortunately, some readers don't have the benefit of having read an earlier book.

What does this have to do with me as a writer? It's very easy to sigh and flick pages when you read but try putting your writing hat on. I have just had book one in an erotic romantic suspense series published and knowing what needs to be included in book two is really difficult. Did I get the amount of backstory from book one right? I guess time will tell.

Speak to Me of Abduction is available now at and the sequel, Keep it Under Wraps is due out on 19 July.

Born and bred in the UK, Lillian Grant’s whole life was turned on its head when, at the tender age of eighteen, she met and fell instantly in love with her darling husband. She knew the minute she met him she was going to marry him and, fortunately, he came to the same conclusion less than six months later.

She has traveled the world with her husband and currently calls Australia home. It didn’t take her long to turn native. She became an Australian citizen and dropped the British accent. However, her wanderlust didn’t stop with moving to the other side of the world. With her husband and two sons she has moved from state to state, always ready for a new adventure. She has also visited many destinations around the world.

Her stories reflect her love for travel and exotic locations, along with a quirky British sense of humor. Well, you can’t give up all of your heritage now, can you?


Carolyn Rosewood said...

Great interview!! :)

Lillian Grant said...

Thanks for the comment, Carolyn.

Lillian :)

Jodie said...

I love series. I like knowing about 2ndry characters. Everyone deserves a Happily Ever after, don't you think.

Lillian Grant said...

I love secondary characters too. Which is why I started writing a series. I want to see all the people I create happy and in love. Even though a few bad things might have to happen along the way.

Thanks for your comment.


Amber Green said...

It's a balancing act: enough info to reflect the book's status as part of a series without a synopsis of the prior book(s). Since not everyone who bought #1 is going to buy #2, you have to approach each reader as if this is the first book he or she has read. You have to present a complete story. Yet you have to tempt each reader to go back and buy #1 also.

Lillian Grant said...

True, so true, Amber. And as a series writer yourself I am guessing you have a handle on it. :)


HollyAdair said...

You recently joined SARA and you are already mentioned on their homepage? You're a total over- achiever! Congtrats on the release.

Eleni Konstantine said...

I missed that meeting Lillian, but I have no doubt it was a fantastic talk by Trish Morey.

Congrats on your releases.

Anonymous said...

Wow. Lillian you hit the nail on the head with this post. Amber also made an excellent point, in that even if you are writing a series, each book must stand alone. It can be both a detriment and a boon to get the perfect balance. Congratulations again on your release.

Bianca Sommerland said...

I'm not sure I agree that every book needs to stand alone. I've read series where, if I hadn't read the books before, I'd be really confused. Kinda like TV shows, only, not quite as drastic. Little reminders here and there telling you who's who is all right, but I hate having to go through a recap of the previous book before the book I'm reading gets started.

I'm sure not everyone will agree with me, and that's fine, but consider this. A series should have it's own arc-that's something every book must have too-and character growth must be shown. So what's important in book one might not be relevant at all in book five. And everything must be relevant. Nothing's worse than wasted words. ;)

Great post, Lillian! You gave me a lot to think about before I get started on my sequels!


DA Kentner said...

Hi Liliian,
Nice article.
I can attest first hand that your books are interwoven very well without baskets of backstory.
Good job!

Lillian Grant said...

Thanks eveyone

Eleni, Trish was wonderful and gave me a lot of food for thought.

Best wishes

Cari Silverwood said...

I'm so scared of writing a series I haven't yet attempted it though I've set up the potential for 2. My hats off to you Lillian. I'm sure you'll do a wonderful job as always!

Judith Leger said...

I'm going through that now with the second book in my dragon series. I guess like you say, time will tell!

Lillian Grant said...

Thanks, Cari and Judy.

I didn't know you planned a book two? Way to go, Judy :)