Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Carrying On A Tradition

I enjoy some novels so much that I can read them again...often several times. I have a couple of bookcases in my home filled with books that I'll go back to from time to time, even though I know how they end. Why? Because the authors know how to string the words together to make me enjoy reading their work.

I read through the works of the late Robert B. Parker while my first wife, Cynthia, was in the intensive care unit for two weeks before finally succumbing to her stroke. It didn't matter that I was familiar with the story line of every novel. I simply wanted to lose myself in that world for a while.

After Parker's death, his widow and long-time editor decided to continue a line of novels featuring the characters he'd established: Spenser, the hard-boiled but oh-so-gentle private detective; Jesse Stone, the recovering (most of the time) alcoholic police chief; Everett Hitch, the companion of western gunman/lawman Virgil Cole. I understand the economics behind such a decision. Unfortunately, with only a few exceptions (such as Lullaby, the Spenser story written by Ace Collins which I'm now re-reading), I don't look favorably on the result.

Other authors more or less license their name, "co-writing" novels that are primarily crafted by others from concepts the well-known author provides. Again, I haven't been particularly impressed with the results. Why? Because of that elusive quality all writers have to find: their "voice." The others may use the same characters, the same general story arc, but the discriminating reader can tell the difference. What defines voice? If I knew, I'd be teaching other writers how to find theirs. But I don't, so I'll leave it to you to help answer this question.

Do you like the novels written by others who carry on the tradition of well-known authors? Can you tell the difference? What is your opinion about this practice.

I'll choose one comment at random (providing you include your email address, so I can notify the winner) to receive a signed copy of my novella, Silent Night, Deadly Night.

Tweet with a single click.  "Do you like the concept of another writer using characters and concepts from a famous author?" Click here to tweet.

31 comments:

  1. I absolutely love Jesse Stone. I have not read the books but I have a feeling that this particular writing legacy was pulled off. The one I didn't like was the pseudo Jason Bourne tag-a- long book about when Jason was older. It just didn't fit.
    Not approved by the author but pulling it off are some of the Jane Austen read alikes: Mary Jane Hathaway comes to mind. Paula. paulams49@sbcglobal.net

    ReplyDelete
  2. I don't think this is a true answer to your question because my example wasn't co-authored but I was disappoint when Alexandra Ripley published 'Scarlett'. I have been an avid reader since I first learned the alphabet and how these letters combine to make words. 'Gone With The Wind' was one of my first "adult" novels and I have read it many times. I was thrilled that this story would be continued but Alexandra did not have the voice of Margaret Mitchell. I doubt that anyone could!!
    Thanks for your post and giveaway.
    Connie
    cps1950(at)gmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Connie, I haven't found a novel yet written by another writer--no matter how carefully chosen--that captures the "voice" of the deceased author. Thanks for your comment.

      Delete
  3. Paula, like you, I really enjoyed the writing of Robert B. Parker. However, other than the Christmas novel completed by Ace Atkins, I've been less than impressed with others who tried to carry his characters forward--unfortunately, including the Jesse Stone books. Having seen a couple of the Jesse Stone TV shows, I decided that I liked the original books better. Thanks for commenting.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Beverly Duell-MooreFebruary 1, 2017 at 7:46 AM

    Oh, I'm like that,too! I read some books over and over. A couple I read now are The Miss Prentice Series by Ellen Kennedy and The American Patriot series by Joan Hochstetler! I love those series.There are several other series I've read several times besides these. Ilove reading this blog. I have learned a lot from it. duellonlysis(at)aol(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  5. Beverly, thanks for your comment. It's nice to find someone else who doesn't just read books once.

    ReplyDelete
  6. So far I haven't found a book that was carried on after the author died that I like. But I suppose it does bring in money. :-/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And, in my humble opinion, that's the reason many of the "lines" are carried on. Thanks for your comment, Patricia.

      Delete
  7. I haven't read any books that were written by others after the author died. I remember when the Scarlett (the sequel to Gone With the Wind) came out. There was a big controversy. I couldn't bring myself to read it because I loved GWTW and knew the author didn't plan to ever have a sequel.
    I also enjoy reading certain books over again. A lot of times when I am not feeling well I like to read one that I have read several times because I get to enjoy reading without having to think too much about the story.
    susanmsj at msn dot com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's nice to just enjoy the book without worrying about how the plot is going to resolve, isn't it, Susan? Thanks for commenting.

      Delete
  8. I don't think I've encountered a series continued by others after the author's death - although as a child I read some series written by multiple authors. And I very rarely read a book a second time - there are just too many out there that I haven't read to reread! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kris, I can't recall the exact numbers, but I once read that the average book is read by four or five people in its lifetime. Hope you pass yours on (and get more to read)--and on behalf of authors everywhere, thanks.

      Delete
  9. Well, I have to say I agree with Kris M......I just do NOT read a book a second time because there are just too many that I want to read..and I do love to read....Christian fiction and esp. medical like Richard writes!!
    jacsmi75 at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aww, Jackie. I need compliments like yours (especially today). Thanks for dropping by.

      Delete
  10. I think every author should make their books their own. Like a new modern day mystery or Pride and Prejudice. fishingjan{at}aol{dot}com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Jan. I appreciate your adding your opinion.

      Delete
  11. I haven't read too many books that continue an author's works after they are gone.The only one that comes to mind are some novels Thomas Kincaide wrote with a co-author. They turned out well so far.
    Martha T. @CRPrairie(1)@imonmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Martha, thanks for leaving a comment. Not familiar with Kincaide's work, but a co-author certainly can keep the "voice" of a series going.

      Delete
  12. I am looking forward to reading this book. Thanks! tklovenestataoldotcom

    ReplyDelete
  13. I prefer the characters by the original author only. No other can capture their creations like the original.
    I've read a couple of true life crime novels more than once because they fascinate me so much. Fatal Vision, And the Sea Will Tell are two I've read more than once. And I've read several different books on Ted Bundy.
    tumcsec(at)gmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Gail, I agree with you that no one has the "touch" or "voice" of the original author--there may be rare exceptions, but they're rare, indeed. Thanks for your comment.

      Delete
  14. I can't recall reading any books that an author has tried to continue a series after the original author's death. I feel each author has their own style and it would be hard for another author to carry on. Looking forward to reading your new book.
    diannekc8(at)gmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Dianne. Appreciate your comment.

      Delete
  15. Every one of that kind of books I've read has left me disappointed. I don't read them anymore.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Lena, with the exception I listed in the blog, my experience has been the same as yours. Thanks for commenting.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I have read several and they have not matched in quality to the author who created the characters and original story.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Stacy, I agree with you. Thanks for your comment.

      Delete
  18. I agree with you. I think the only time I've seen this really work is more fan fiction set in the same world but with different characters. But I've never seen this done in publishing outside of sci-fi/fantasy. The only example of character I've seen work well are a few Sherlock Holmes books. My daughter has enjoyed the newer Nancy Drew, although I find them less well written.

    I agree that voice is probably the most significant reason it doesn't work. Also the nuances of all the things the author knows about the character that never actually make it on to the page but color the details.

    As a reader, there are definitely times when I want to revisit characters or a particular place. And I'm a sucker for a good series all set around the same location but different character perspectives. It feels like I'm part of a community. But if it is not by the same author, it has to be done well if not better than the original author to truly keep me reading.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Jessica, well-said. I especially like your last thought: "If it is not by the same author, it has to be done well, if not better, than the original author." Thanks for your comment.

    ReplyDelete
  20. The winner of a copy of my novella, Silent Night, Deadly Night, is Dianne Casey. Congratulations to Dianne (to whom I'll send an email), and thanks to everyone who left a comment.

    ReplyDelete