It’s a real pleasure today to be part of the blog tour for Displacement by Anne Stormont, the first of three books in her Skye series: published in 2014, it’s available both for kindle (free to read via Kindle Unlimited) and in paperback. My thanks to Kelly at Love Books Tours for the invitation and support.
I haven’t read this one (sorry!), but I have read the two other books in the series and really love Anne’s writing. I’m looking forward to sharing again my reviews of both Settlement and Fulfilment for a couple more blog tours in September and October – along with extracts so you can get a taste of her writing too. But let’s take a closer look at how the series started…
Divorce, the death of her soldier son, and estrangement from her daughter, leave Hebridean crofter, Rachel Campbell, grief-stricken, lonely and lost.
Forced retirement leaves former Edinburgh policeman Jack Baxter needing to find a new direction in life.
After Rachel and Jack meet on a wild winter’s night in the most dramatic circumstances, an unlikely friendship begins, despite their very different personalities. However, their feelings for each other gradually go beyond friendship – something neither of them feels able to admit. And, when Rachel leaves to go on a life-changing journey to the Middle East, it seems unlikely their relationship will go any further.
Can Rachel give her heart to Jack? Can Jack trust himself not to break it if she does?
Set against the contrasting and dramatic backdrops of the Scottish island of Skye and the contested country of Israel-Palestine, Displacement is a story of courage and love – where romance and realism meet head on.
So, no review – but I’m delighted to welcome Anne as my guest, to tell us more about the serious business of writing a series…
I enjoy being a writer. I love seeing the stories I’ve created going out into the world. And most recently, I was especially pleased and proud when the final book in my Skye series of three contemporary romance novels was published.
Completing the series felt like a special kind of achievement. But I also couldn’t quite believe that I’d actually written a series at all. It wasn’t something I planned to do. Indeed all the time I was writing Displacement I’d no idea that it would the first in a set. In my mind it was always going to be a single and complete story. Standalones were the sort of novels I wanted to write and I’d never considered doing a series.
I also had no idea just how complex writing a series can be.
Writers often describe themselves as plotters or pantsters when it comes to planning a novel. That is, they classify themselves as either planning the whole story in detail before they start – or they have only the vaguest idea of where the story is headed and fly by the seat of their pants. I would say that up till now I’ve come somewhere in the middle of the two extremes.
So, I do compile a life biography for my main characters and most of the supporting cast too. These biographies will have – amongst other things – names, dates of birth, details of looks and personality, likes and dislikes, education and jobs. I also draw out floor plans of the main characters houses and a street map of the fictional village or town where they live – so that the settings are clear in my mind. And I do a rough three act plan with a few key scenes by way of a plot. But I don’t necessarily know every detail of the story and I don’t always know how it will end. Yes, I know as a romance writer that it should be a satisfying and happy ending – but that doesn’t mean that when I set out that I know how I’ll get there.
And when I began writing novels this method worked fine for me. But when I finished Displacement and began to think about my next project something began to niggle. The niggle grew. I couldn’t ignore it. Yes, the story of the love between Rachel and Jack that I tell in Displacement had reached a happy conclusion, but I became increasingly aware that their story wasn’t over yet. And, judging by the feedback from my readers, they agreed. So I decided I had to write a sequel – which I called Settlement. I had plenty ideas about how I’d like the story to develop, I knew my characters and settings well – so it should be relatively simple to get it planned out.
Only it wasn’t.
There’s a real and specific knack to writing a series. And I learned the hard way that there are three important guidelines to follow.
1: Plan the whole series in advance in order to avoid continuity problems.
2: Keep all your notes from the first book – and beyond.
3: Establish key supporting characters, alternative settings and subplots early on so nothing feels forced or contrived in the subsequent books.
How did I do?
1: Failed. I plead ignorance.
2: Epic fail. I threw away my handwritten notes after Displacement was published. I know! Handwritten! Irretrievable! What?
3: Yes, did this one. Okay, it was by luck rather than good judgement or foresight but Displacement had enough cast members and several interesting situations which had the potential to be explored and more deeply developed.
But I did learn my lesson. So when I decided a third book was required, the writing of Fulfilment was definitely easier than writing Settlement. And, yes, I kept my rewritten handwritten notes – I do find it easier in the early planning stages to write everything out by hand – but I also made a concise digital, backed-up version too.
However, having written the third part of Jack and Rachel’s story, I know the time has come to leave them in peace to get on with their lives. Yes, we had a ball and yes, I miss them. And – who knows – I may pop in on them for a Christmas short story or link them into a future novel somewhere. But for now I have *fulfilled (*pun intended) my obligation to tell their story. And I love that I’ve done so.
So, what’s next?
Guess what? Yes, another series. It’s a whole new setting and it won’t be a serial series like the Skye one. By that I mean the books will be linked by their setting – but each story will feature a different pair of romantically linked main characters. Readers will be able to catch up with characters from earlier books as the series progresses and to see previous supporting members of the cast take centre stage.
So, it’s fair to say I’ve moved along the plotting spectrum and I’m now much more of a planner than a pantster. And, yes, I have indeed learned that the writing of a series is a very serious and demanding business. But it’s also very much worth the effort.
And there are quite a few readers out here really looking forward to that new series, Anne – we really appreciate your effort!
About the author
Anne Stormont writes contemporary romantic fiction where the main characters may sometimes be older – but not necessarily wiser.
She hopes the stories she tells will entertain, but she also hopes they will move, challenge and inspire her readers.
She has written four novels so far – Change of Life was her first. This was followed by the three novels set on the Scottish island of Skye – Displacement, Settlement and Fulfilment which tell the story of Rachel and Jack.
Anne is a Scot, living in the land of her birth. She’s a former teacher and when she’s not writing, she enjoys reading, country walks and gardening – and the occasional pillion ride on her husband’s motor bike. She also loves spending time with friends and family – especially her three grandchildren.
Anne has travelled all over the world and has visited every continent except Antarctica – somewhere she really should go considering her penchant for penguins.
She can be a bit of a subversive old bat, but she tries to maintain a kind heart.