Hey cHEwY gum gums
Just after Thai-riffic! came out in 2010, I went straight to work on the sequel, Thai-no-mite. A few friends asked me, aren’t you afraid of being stuck writing a series?
Nine years later, I realise it’s not a bad place to be in because series sell.
It’s a win win for everyone. Authors love it because they’ll have more books out. Publishers love it because a series means more space on the shelves. Booksellers love it because a series, especially an established one, sells itself. It’s Book 10. That’s all you need to know.
In fact, walk into any Junior Fiction section in a bookstore and I bet 90 percent of those books are part of a series. 2 of my top 3 favourite books last year were a series. I know they’re the mountain ranges of the children’s books landscape.
So why has it eluded me?
Early on, the thought did cross my mind about Thai-riffic! being a series, in the same way Andy Griffiths and Terry Dention’s Just books. But I was keen to break out of the ‘Thai-riffic’ mould and pushed Con-nerd to come out as my 2nd cHEwY creation, to show the world that I wasn’t going to be boxed in the ‘Thai-riffic!’ realm.
Yet, when kids ask me if I write any series, I say no BUT I do have sequels to my books. Both Thai-no-mite and Super Con-nerd are more like companions than a straight out part 2. In other words, you can’t just slap a 2 on the spine or cover. They can be read before you read the first one.
Another reason why I haven’t written a series yet is well…I haven’t had a idea that could span across more than a few books, and that’s a fact haha. I like writing self-contained stories that wrap up neatly enough. While I understand that there are series that are episodic, in that they can be read on their own, I don’t know if my readers would ever follow one of my characters in the same way they would with Alice Miranda or Greg Heffley.
Then there’s the fear of failure. Because for every Bad Guys there is a (insert failed series here haha). There are so many promising books 1 and 2, that just fall off the radar by the series end. No box sets for them. Still, at least they wrote those books, and if the publisher has carried them through, it means that their book tally is up. So it’s still a win win. But sometimes, they just cancel the rest of the series. I am aware that the book market is overcrowded as it is, so why would mine stand out? Just like with any media/art form, it takes a bit of luck, powerful marketing and a huge push from the publisher to get a series up and running. I only have to look at my writing pals. Matt Stanton’s Funny Kid series is a blueprint of how to launch a series well and those books deserve its success. In other words, if I am going to give it a go, it better be an awesome idea.
Still, I haven’t given up on those dreams yet. In 2015, when the chance came to write Ethan in the cool Stuff Happens series (the bumper a lot of STUFF HAPPENS is out now, plug plug plug), it planted a seed for a possible series from cHEwY creations. A real series, with it’s own numbers, and colourful covers. And oooooo maybe a boxset someday!
And now in 2019, it’s one step closer. Now don’t get too excited, it’s still in the rough, rough draft stages. Plus, it’s more of a side project as I write my other cHEwY creations. But it is so exciting to be in this space, to map out a possible 2-10 books with these enduring characters. Of course, my series pitch could be rejected, but if being a writer has taught me anything, is that something can resubmitted and re-polished.
All I know is that a good story will eventually find its way to the shelf. So if you do see a Oliver P series out in the wild, know that it was a labour of love, something that has much heart and joy as my longer titles.