Not long ago, Sue-Ellen Welfonder mentioned in her blog post here that all her stories have magical threads. Yes! That made me very happy, because I love encountering magic when I read, and magic often grabs me and won’t let go when I write. (I titled this blog #2 because I’m pretty sure I’ve blogged about this before. Actually, probably more than once before, but please bear with me.)
But unlike Sue-Ellen, I’m not consistent about having magic in my stories. Sometimes it’s there and sometimes not. I worry about confusing my readers—because conventional wisdom says readers want to know what to expect, and I can’t always deliver that.
The problem (which may or may not actually BE a problem) is that magic has a habit of worming its way in even when I don’t plan on it. I’m a seat-of-the-pants writer, which may partly account for this. It’s a lot easier for magic to step in and take over when you don’t have a real plan.
For example, my first two novellas for Harlequin Undone, Notorious Eliza and The Wanton Governess, have no magic except the magic of love. Then I started writing The Unrepentant Rake (sequel to The Wanton Governess), and…oops, a magic of sorts appeared—a holy relic that ensures family harmony. Then came another non-magical novella, then a Christmas story with—oops, a hobgoblin—and then four more, all with magical elements. Then a frankly magical novel, Lady of the Flames, and The Christmas Knot, a novella with a ghost and a curse.
And then, reverting to so-called real life again, To Kiss a Rake, which has no magical elements. The Rake’s Irish Lady, which just came out, was supposed to be non-magical, too, but whoops—Bridget, the heroine, is a sort of horse whisperer, and Colin, the hero, communicates with his dead sister. There’s no proof in the story that these elements are magical, but they might be. I’m working on the third in the series now, and so far there’s no magic, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be by the time it’s done. It seems as if whichever muse is responsible for magic is stalking me, waiting to pounce on me (and my readers) unaware. My novella in the upcoming anthology, Passionate Promises, is magical through and through.
Argh. So anyway: what I want to know is, as a reader, do you mind not knowing what to expect when you pick up a particular author’s work? Do you prefer it if every book is similar to the others, or do you like surprises? If so, how surprising can the surprises be?
Because I must say that I like surprises both when I’m reading and writing. However, there are certain surprises that would not work for me. If an author usually has magic, I’ll probably hope for it every time, because I like magic so much. I also like happy endings, and I might be disappointed if an author who always wrote happy endings suddenly published something sad. But if I’m reading a mystery series with a dysfunctional sleuth, I don’t require a HEA—but I do expect that the mystery will be solved. Well, at least most of the time. 😉 Etc…..
Anyway, I’d like to hear your views on this, and I will give away an e-copy of The Rake’s Irish Lady to one lucky commenter.
The Rake’s Irish Lady blurb:
ONE WILD NIGHT . . .
Widowed and lonely, Bridget O’Shaughnessy Black indulges herself in a night of pleasure. After all, she’s in disguise. And the baby girl? An unexpected blessing…until an old flame claims the child as his own to force Bridget to marry him.
ONE DETERMINED LADY. . .
Many women pursued Colin Warren, but only one climbed in his bedchamber window. When Bridget does it for the second time, she needs Colin’s help. He’s unfit to be a parent, and yet he has no choice but to acknowledge the little girl.
RISKING EVERYTHING FOR LOVE
Circumstances force Bridget and Colin together, yet grave differences divide them. Can love bridge the chasm that keeps them apart?