Friday, September 15, 2017

Discussion: Do Bestselling Authors Keep Extending Their Series' Indefinitely & Is it a Bad Thing?

This has definitely been a hot button issue for years. Normally it's a complaint heard from people who aren't fans of a particular series or author and just want them to move on from whatever book/series/world that they hated in the first place. I first heard the complaint when Cassandra Clare announced she would be continuing her Shadowhunter books beyond Mortal Instruments and Infernal Devices. More recently, though, I've seen the same complaint attached to JK Rowling and Sarah J Maas, and to some extent, Rick Riordan. I'll be talking about all these authors and their books in this post.

In the case of Cassandra Clare there has always been a lot of hate and tension around her name alongside the adoration of her fanbase. Regarding the author herself I sit somewhere in the middle, mostly because some of the hate I've seen lobbed her way has been absolutely awful and no one deserves the bullshit she gets (similar to Sarah J Maas, but more on that in a bit). Also, a lot of the hate that isn't series related I've never seen actually backed up except for stories of stories. I didn't do extensive research but I have looked into it. I'm not calling anyone a liar but I'm not convinced she's an awful person. But beyond all that, people dislike her books. That's totally legit and absolutely fine! I get it; the Shadowhunter Chronicles are definitely not for everyone. I grew up reading them and I loved them since I turned the first page of City of Bones. They're one of those series that I can go back to and read whenever I like and feel better. Often times these readers, who didn't like the series, are the ones I see raising the call for Cassandra Clare to stop writing Shadowhunter books. She's a hack! She's doing it for the money! She doesn't care about [insert character name here]! I can go on. Let's take them in order: she's a hack. I don't think so; I really like the books still and I think they actually get better as time goes on. I'm still as attached to her characters as I always have been. She's doing it for the money: are you thick? Of course she fucking is, it's her job to be an author. Don't be daft asshats; as much as writing comes from the heart and soul it is a job and there are investments that must be made. If she likes writing Shadowhunter books and people like reading Shadowhunter books and they're making her money than she should continue writing them. She doesn't care about [insert character name here]: again, are you thick? She wrote the character, of course she cares about them. I write (I haven't published anything yet but I still consider myself an author) and let me tell you that you don't ever stop caring about your characters once you create them.

A lot of similar complaints (actually, some pretty identical complaints) have been lodged against Sarah J Maas. It's a bit of different horse because Sarah J Maas has also been the brunt of a lot of complaints saying she doesn't include enough diversity in her books (and yeah I do agree, but I think she's getting better, at least she's taking small steps). But recently it's become a pretty big thing with her where people have been complaining about her extending her series' on forever. Here's how: a Chaol novella she was writing turned into a full-fledged novel that came out before the penultimate novel did, and said final TOG book has been pushed back even further now. Also, her ACOTAR series is getting some novella's and novels set in the world, with the first novella coming out in Spring 2018 (I believe). Again, both of these series are huge money makers (but you see my argument for why that's FINE to write for money, above). Now, ACOTAR kinda wrapped up, so I am curious to see exactly where the next installments continue, but I'm excited. Just like I'm excited whenever a new Shadowhunter book comes out. Both of these authors and their series keep me engaged and I love reading them and I don't mind giving these authors my money. When the books stop being interesting I'll stop reading them, and that's that. I think that's a pretty understandable thing. But, is it a bad thing creatively? For not just the authors but also the landscape of genre books?

Let's look at JK Rowling here. I love her. I love Harry Potter. I think a lot of people will stand with me and those statements. But was Cursed Child really needed? I don't think so; I thought it was pretty bad and didn't even sort of live up to what I was expecting. And then there's Fantastic Beasts. I liked the movie well enough and I'm looking forward to the rest of the movies, but, again, I don't think they were super necessary. It's not as if JK hasn't been writing other things (I still haven't read those other things but I PLAN to) and it's not as if she isn't one of the wealthiest people (and most generous!) in the world, so I don't think she's doing more Harry Potter for a quick paycheck. I think it's more of the case that she wasn't quite ready to give up the world just yet. I get that, but I do think that's problematic. Sometimes there are stories left in worlds to tell and sometimes you have to force them to be there and sometimes you don't need to tell either type. 

I have a similar view of Rick Riordan's more recent books. I haven't read anything since finishing Heroes of Olympus and I had several issues with those books. I have heard really good things about the newer series' and plan to read those actually pretty soon because I do want to. But with HoO it just felt very forced and it didn't live up to PJO. For a long time I've wanted to see him write something different (but still MG because I don't really enjoy his adult books). HOWEVER I think in a brilliant move from the publishing industry, Rick is getting his own little imprint, Rick Riordan Presents. Next year they'll be publishing three books. The really great thing about this imprint? It's going to be POC authors writing about the mythologies from their own backgrounds. I CAN'T WAIT. I'm sure Rick will continue to write PJO-esque books but also, I feel like he could branch out now and write other things as the spirit of PJO will continue onward.

So the question I've been trying to get to; is it toxic for authors and the industry to just keep pushing out books from bestselling series? I think... yes. It is. Look at James Patterson: his books have gotten worse with time and while he has huge name recognition I don't think he's as big as he was even five years ago. The publishing industry has a hard time moving past certain books and thus has a hard time looking for new books that could be completely different but also brilliant! For authors I don't think it's as toxic because it is their world and their stories and they're still using their creative mind. As a writer myself, though, I've had times where I've pushed a story and it's come out shit and I've lost that creativity for a while. But that's definitely on an individual basis and I don't know any of these authors personally so how could I say?

For readers, though, I don't think it's a bad thing that authors continue to write great series long after they once thought they would end. Wouldn't you rather get more books in a series you love? Let me know what you think about this topic in the comments down below!


  1. Always an interesting discussion - in some situations I'm okay with a series continuing, like The Dresden Files. Then again there are others that should have ended earlier, like Charlaine Harris's Southern Vampire Mysteries - she dug herself into a hole with the last 5 or 6 and they definitely suffered for it. That being said I've just started the first book in her Midnight, Texas series because I've really been enjoying the NBC adaptation! :)

    1. Yes, i agree- Dresden Files has done a good job at expanding the series (though I'm not 100% caught up yet). I haven't picked up SVM yet, though I do want to. I've heard a lot of mixed things. I hope you enjoy Midnight Texas!


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