Feb 192012
 


Today’s post is brought to you by my new
boxing story, “King
Crush
,” now available for 99¢ exclusively for Kindle. And, as a special
inducement, for a limited time the first story, “Iron
Hands
,” is available FREE. 
Today I have a question: What do you like to
see in a series character? The same “feel” over and over, or deepening
and changing?
There are two schools of thought on this.
Lee Child once remarked that he loves Dom
Perignon champagne and wants each bottle to be the same. He’s not looking for a
different taste each time out. So
it is with his Jack Reacher novels. And millions of fans are tracking right
along with him.
There are other enduring series where the
character remains roughly static. Phillip Marlowe didn’t change all that much
until The Long Goodbye. James Bond?
Not a whole lot of change going on inside 007.
At the other end of the spectrum are those
characters who undergo significant transformation as the series moves along. The
best contemporary example of this is, IMO, the Harry Bosch series by Michael
Connelly. What he’s done with Bosch from book to book is nothing short of
astonishing.
Lawrence Block’s Matthew Scudder was traipsing
along as a pretty standard PI until Block made a conscious decision to kick it
up a notch. He did that with Eight Million Ways to Die, a book that knocked me out. Here we
have Scudder not just on a new case, but also battling his alcoholism and the
existential angst of life in New York City in the early 1980s. By going deeper
Block created one of the classics of the genre.
In my Mallory Caine,
Zombie-at-Law series
(written as K. Bennett) I have a lead character who is
a zombie hungering (you’ll pardon the phrase) for change. She doesn’t want to
be what she is. The just released Book 2,
The Year of Eating Dangerously, begins with Mallory in the hills looking
down at a motorcycle gang and thinking, Lunch.
And then reflecting on her damaged soul.
Book 3, due out later this year, begins with
Mallory at a ZA meeting—Zombies Anonymous. She is trying to stay off human
flesh (substituting calves’ brains) but it’s not easy. And I say without
hesitation that I was inspired by the above mentioned Eight Million Ways to Die.
So here’s my series about boxer
Irish Jimmy Gallagher. These are short stories, and I’m going for
“revealing” more of Jimmy in each one. “Iron
Hands
” was the intro, giving us Jimmy’s world and basic personality.
Now comes “King
Crush
.”
The new story takes place in 1955 and
revolves around an old carnival attraction they used to have in America, the
carny fighter who would take on locals. If the locals stayed with him long
enough, they might earn back their five bucks and some more besides. But these
carny pugs knew all the dirty tricks, and it was usually the hayseeds who ended
up on the canvas.
Jimmy just wants to have a good time at the
carnival with his girl, Ruby, and his bulldog, Steve. He’s not looking for
trouble. But sometimes trouble finds Jimmy Gallagher.
I started writing these stories because
there’s something in me that wants to know Jimmy Gallagher, what makes him
tick. And that’s my preference as a writer and a reader of series. I want to go
a little deeper each time.
So who is your favorite series character? Is
this character basically the same from book to book? Or is there significant
change going on?

If you’re writing a series, do you have a plan for the development of your character over time? Or is it more a book-to-book thing?