In Writing the Book You Want to Read #1, I talked about strong female protagonists because, with the exception of the few books I can count on a hand, I enjoy my good guys to be girls. Patrick Rothfuss’s The Name of the Wind is the only exception that immediately springs to mind. I would say that Anne Rice’s The Vampire Chronicles is another, but really, Rice’s protagonists are all antagonists in their own right.
In Writing the Book You Want to Read #2, I talked about creating a bad*ass male antagonist. We’re talking unredeemably, unmistakably evil. In Silence of the Lambs, my favorite character was Hannibal Lecter, and I was tickled pink that he escaped at the end. In Breaking Bad, I rooted for Walter until the very end. In The Following, Ryan Hardy is just a boring cop without Joe Carroll to match wits with him. And I am still bummed that Dexter ended.
The third quality I want to see in a book is…
Quality 3: The Possibility Of Another Book.
I almost never read stand alone novels. My Kindle app is loaded with: Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake, Faith Hunter’s Jane Yellowrock, C.E. Murphy’s The Walker Papers, Nalini Singh’s Guild Hunter, Christina Henry’s Black Wings, Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson, and Michelle Sagara’s Chronicles of Elantra, because have each of these series have first two qualities in spades, and there are lots and lots of books in them.
I make the occasional exception for Dean Koontz–The Taking is the last book I read that both terrified and surprised me–and Stephen King–Pet Cemetery was actually the first book that ever terrified me (at the tender age of some-teen). Oddly enough, neither King or Koontz series books, appeal to me. (Please tell me someone got the pun.) Exceptions aside, when I find a book I like, if, at the end, the protagonist lives happily ever after after killing her antagonist once and for all, it just pisses me off.
When I initially envisioned Blood Toy, I planned for three books, with that whole happy-ish ending and dead antagonist–and I mean really, really dead antagonist–all wrapped up in a pretty bow. Then the idea for a fourth book came to me on a vacation. Once you read the first book, you may be able to guess what element of a sand-beleaguered beach trip could inspire a whole book…or maybe not. Now I am thinking of writing Blood Toy in the vein of Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel Legacy series or Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern, wherein, when one protagonist’s story reaches its natural conclusion, we pick up the story with another in that same world. We’ll see. I have four or five books to go before I make that decision.
Well, now that I have not only outlined thoroughly the third quality of the book I want to read, but also a dozen or so of the literary, film and tv influences that may or may not have colored my own writing, I will bid you all goodnight so I can get back to binge watching the third season of The Following.