I write one book a year, and while that’s a speed both my readers and I would love to hasten, so far it has worked well, allowing me time to seek some sort of balance between my writerly and personal lives. However, I’ve also found that short stories are a great way to give readers of my Zodiac series a little somethin’-somethin’ between novels, as well as a way to keep me creatively fresh and inspired. So far I’ve done one per year, and all, save one, have been related to my main series.
Now, I realize not everybody likes short stories. There was a time when I could only consume full-length novels, and the longer the better. (Diana Gabaldon’s OUTLANDER series, anyone?) There’s nothing I love more than allowing a good storyteller to take me by the hand and lead me into a world I’d never have imagined - and fully disappear for hours at that. Yet times and tastes change, and while I still love to get lost in someone else’s mind, the shorts belonging to authors I love have also begun battling for space on my bookshelves. They’re like appetizers instead of full course meals, line drawings instead of oil paintings, and a medium that should be considered separate from its longer fictional counterpart, because it is, both in form and function.
However the strange thing for me as a writer has been my inability to write a short from the point of view of my series protagonist, Joanna Archer. Maybe it’s because the Zodiac series belongs so wholly to her, maybe I know her too well, and maybe I need a creative break in between our time together. But I’ve found that shorts are a great way to explore side characters I love, and find out what they’ve been doing both before and while Joanna is off on her risky adventures. So far I’ve written of her mother, Zoe, in HOLIDAYS ARE HELL. I’ve written of her lover, Hunter, in UNBOUND. And in this month’s DARK AND STORMY KNIGHTS (July 20) of her once-foe, Skamar, explaining and exploring many of that character's actions and choices in last month’s release, CHEAT THE GRAVE.
Still, in every case, my interest in these side characters and stories are all Joanna-related. The shorts address their hows and whys in relation to her, which is important because at the end of the day - battles and paranormal setting and superheroes aside - I write about relationships, both interpersonal and in relation to our world … whatever world that might be.
So what about you all? What’s your relationship and interest in short stories, if any? Have shorts ever made you want to pick up a main series, or follow a new character into a more fully developed world? And, if so, who are your favorites and why?