Writing serials came about without my fully realizing that was what I did with my two novels, Hawk Dancer and Cloudburst. My intentions, in producing the companion follow up book, Cloudburst, was simply to fill in material about some minor characters as well as to build on my original cast of major characters from Hawk Dancer. Effectively, I created a set of two serial novels.
Book one included John Macias, a minor character that had been alluded to earlier in the book, but not positively identified until the final quarter of the novel in an unexpected twist in one of the plots.
Book two, Cloudburst, gave more background on John while bringing out more about the major characters. This later book overlaps the period of Hawk Dancer and advances to story to 2010. (Book 1 covers the years 1934-1978 and #2 shows 1964 – 2010; mostly the same characters.)
I began the Birch Clump Village Reader series by request. Some readers wanted to know more about select characters. I accomplished this via several short stories beginning with the book EMERALD RISING: BIRCH CLUMP VILLAGE READER, 1. The series of Village Readers allows me to produce three types of short stories. Some are complete on their own. Others are a set of stories feature a particular character, though other players from the novels are involved. The third type are serial short stories. All three story types are in each Village Reader.
Amos Crow of the “Fishing Hole” serial short stories in the BC Village Readers. Illustration by Joshua Seidl, author.
Fishing Hole is my first mystery serial, thus far in three segments. The first part, in the book EMERALD RISING: BCVR 1, ends as a cliffhanger. Amos Crow, the protagonist in Fishing Hole, is in a dangerous life-threatening situation.
I backtrack to the day of his birth eighteen years earlier in the second Village Reader, but I did not revisit his harrowing experience until BCVR Village Reader #3. Even then, the readers do not know if Amos Crow made it out alive, died, or met up with still more harrowing experiences. Fishing Hole Part Two centers on the search for Amos Crow.
The fourth BCVR lets us know what actually became of Amos Crow. Many of the illustrations, by the way, are by me.
The other serials found in the Birch Clump Village Readers are short stories marking the milestones and ventures of select characters from the novels. Dean Thompson is one example. We followed his life from 1951 to around 1973 or 74 in the companion novels, Hawk Dancer and Cloudburst. Notations at the end of Hawk Dancer lets us know Dean is married as of 2001 and has three children and a grandchild on the way.
The Village Readers brings him into a few short stories that fill in the 1974-2001 gaps. The same is done for Jig Rajan, Erik Fern and others.
Author Louise Erdrich is my influence to present several short stories as a novel. Instead of an all-out novel made up of short stories, however, I do this with a series of Village Readers. Like Erdrich, my cast of characters is drawn from several cultures, Aboriginal, Euro-American and Metis (mixed race).