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What's a Serial and Why Would I Read One?
by Susan Kaye Quinn, author of the urban fantasy serial, Debt Collector
A serial is a series of episodes - or short stories - that are connected to tell a larger story.
Must Read TV
Serials are actually a lot like a TV series, which themselves vary a lot in type. Series like Law and Order and House are more self-contained, with only a few character storylines carrying over from episode to episode. Series like Lost or Heroes would be difficult to watch out of order because the storylines carry more strongly, sometimes with cliffhangers, sometimes not.
Some readers like the week-by-week suspense of Must Watch TV; others would rather wait until the season is done and get it from netflix so they can watch it back-to-back. Likewise, some readers enjoy the suspense of reading a serial episode-by-episode as they're released. Others would rather wait until the entire serial is complete and read it all at once. Either is fine!
Is a Serial a New Idea?
Covers for Debt Collector Season One
Ebook serials are a new thing, because ebooks are a new thing - but serials have been around since Charles Dickens wrote and released Great Expectations (self-published through his own literary magazine!) in 6,000 word "installments" every week for nine months. Readers today aren't accustomed to reading in serial format because publishing serials was restricted to magazines, which didn't have wide circulation. Now with ebooks, the cost of transmission is low and the distribution is wide. Ebooks have revived the short story form! But for readers raised on novels, who crave longer works and more in-depth stories, serials are the next natural step
Is a Serial a Novel Cut Into Pieces?
No. A serial is not a chopped up novel, just like a TV episode is not a chopped up movie. It's a different way of telling stories. In a way, it's more demanding to write than novels - you need to immediately draw the reader in, you have to reach some kind of reader-satisfaction-level by the end of the episode (even if you have a cliff-hanger), and you have to maintain that pace and storytelling arc over multiple episodes. But all that hard work on the part of the author makes it (potentially) more enjoyable for the reader.
Can You Name Some Successful Serials?
Hugh Howey's Wool
RaShelle Workman's Blood and Snow
Platt and Wright's Yesterday's Gone
These are all recent bestselling science fiction and fantasy serials that have drawn audiences in and helped revitalize the serial form. Romance is another genre where serials
Why Would I Read a Serial?
Readers tell me that they enjoy the short episodes - they can read them quickly over lunch or in an evening and get a full "story" worth of entertainment. The fast pacing means there's a lot of story packed into a short number of words. Readers also say they enjoy the anticipation of finding out "what will happen next" much like a TV series where you get invested in the characters. Think about how a favorite TV series will sometimes focus one episode on one character or another, diving into their backstory. As a writer, I like that I can go in-depth a little more in each "episode" than I could in a novel, giving a richness to the story and characters that might be more difficult to do in a novel format.
All serials eventually come to an end, just like a "season" of your favorite TV series. Whether you enjoy reading serials as they release, or want to wait until the complete season is out so you can read the episodes back-to-back, serials are a fast-paced, exciting way to enjoy a story.
As a writer, I find serials are the hardest writing I've ever loved.
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Susan Kaye Quinn is the author of the bestselling Mindjack Trilogy and the Debt Collector serial, as well as other speculative fiction novels and short stories. Her work has appeared in the Synchronic anthology and has been optioned for Virtual Reality by Immersive Entertainment. Her business card says "Author and Rocket Scientist" but she mostly sits around in her PJs in awe that she gets to write full time.
Find Susan and her books
Debt Collector Season 2
What's your life worth on the open market?**Contains mature content and themes.**
In this gritty urban fantasy, debt collectors take your life energy and give it to someone more "worthy"... all while paying the price with black marks on their souls.
Wraith is a shadow in the night, haunting the bedrooms of the rich "high potentials" who have stolen life energy from the desperate and dying. The justice and the sweet mercy hit that follow keep her from falling into her own personal abyss.
Her secret nighttime work also keeps her on level for her real mission: carrying on her father's legacy of attempting to bring an end to debt collection as a whole. But when a mysterious debt collector interrupts her in the act and discovers her secret, everything Wraith loves may be destroyed by the one thing she can never fix-- the original sin of being a debt collector herself.
Book Trailer: http://youtu.be/0-ngIMiEF1M
Season One - Lirium - COMPLETE
Episodes 1-9: Delirium, Agony, Ecstasy, Broken, Driven, Fallen, Promise, Ruthless, Passion
Season Two - Wraith
10 - Wraith (10.20)
11 - Specter (10.27)
12 - Menace (11.3)
13 - Temptation (11.10)
14- Shattered (11.17)
15 - Penance (11.24)
16 - Judgment (12.1)
17- Corruption (12.8)
18- Atonement (12.15)
BOX SET (Vol 10-18) - (12.15)
My new collection suit weighs less than a shadow on my skin, and my soft-soled boots don’t even whisper as I creep across the thick, yielding carpet of my target’s apartment. With the best bullet-resistant synthetics money can buy, the black curve-hugging suit makes me look more like female-special-forces than someone’s hot date for the night. It raised the bellman’s eyebrows, but an untraceable debit card got me waved through the lobby, no problem. Money buys a lot of things. Access to one of the highest-security luxury buildings in LA. A ninety-fifth-floor apartment high above the smog-soaked city, complete with all the clean air you can breathe. And the no-doubt illegal collection of ivory-handled daggers I passed on the way in. It’s too bad for data-mining mogul Adrien Odel that money can’t buy your way out of a blackened soul.
And tonight I’ve come to collect a debt he doesn’t even think he owes.
Outside the floor-to-ceiling windows of Odel’s apartment, the city is lit up with a nighttime electric haze, the kind that makes it look seedy even in the high-rent district. It’s the perfect backdrop for a collection, and my suit is a black silhouette against it, a hole of death punched in the city’s twinkling lights. The high-tech fabric clings to me like the original sin I can never expiate, the one every debt collector is born with: the ability to deliver death with the slightest touch. We traffic in it, surround ourselves with it, and can never escape it.
Not that I haven’t tried that, too.
But even a short three-week dry spell away from collecting has me needy as all hell. The craving for a life energy hit claws at my back, and every step across the carpet amps up the desire. Even the possibility of Odel pulling a gun and shooting me dead hypes the thrill a little. My palm aches in anticipation—for the justice and the high that comes with it—but I take it slow, watching the placement of my feet and checking the windows. Along one edge, next to a mile-wide screen and some pretentious artwork, there’s a control panel. Only the rich want windows that open in the city, but it’s a bonus for me, especially given the windows face the broad expanse of the skyline and not the high-rise next door.
As I check out the control panel, the high-rise becomes a peep show. A woman’s naked body is pressed against the glass, exposed to the city’s onlookers as a man clutches her bare skin and makes love to her. I’m transfixed by the way they move, skin against skin, without care for the contact or the watchers. In a moment, they’re gone. Maybe reason broke through the passion. Maybe the glass was cold, in spite of the perpetual heat of LA.
Regardless, the image holds me hostage.
Having a lover isn’t something that’s part of my future. Or my present, for that matter. But that doesn’t stop the base need from surging up, usually at the least convenient of times. Then a different image—a cold, pale specter from my past—crawls out of the dark corners of my mind and reminds me I’m not the kind of woman who gets to have a normal life. I’m the kind who takes life and then gives it away. And the ecstasy of that is the closest I’ll ever get to the normal kind again—so it had better be good enough.
I couldn’t stomach even that pleasure for a while, not after what the debt collectors did to my father. I managed a whole three weeks without a single collection. But in the end, it’s the only thing that keeps me stable. And I’ve had a severe lack of stable ever since my father’s death nearly tore down the teetering scaffold of lies that comprises my life. That’s when the abyss reared up and stared me full in the face. Will-power alone wasn’t enough to stop it—the darkness just opened its maw and threatened to swallow me whole. At least that would have put an end the torment… but I couldn’t let the sin of who I am destroy everything my father had worked for. That we had both worked for. So here I am, dressed like a phantom, stalking the rich to give to the poor. With a tremor in my hands that’s more than a little unsettling. For better and worse, it’s the one thing that keeps me out of that dark place and gives me hope that one day I might redeem everything I am and everything I’ve done.
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