My special guest today is Samhain author, Lorelei James. She’s talking about family trees and books. Over to Lorelei and her Western men!
Shelley contacted me after she’d finished, TIED UP, TIED DOWN, the latest book in my Rough Riders series from Samhain Publishing, wondering if I’d ever considered creating a family tree for the characters as a reference point for readers.
I’ll admit I hadn’t thought of it. I’ll also admit I have lots of characters in my books — no one really is an island, even in the middle of nowhere Wyoming. The Rough Riders books are a Western saga, if you will, featuring a large ranching family. Each book can be read as a standalone, but each book builds on the entire arc of the series, both forward and backward, and each one features a different McKay or West family member.
***Complete disclosure; if I had it to do all over again, I would not have so many ‘C’ and ‘K’ names in this series – although it is something families do frequently out here in the Wild West, begin all offspring’s first names with the same letter. As sort of a wink wink nudge nudge to my readers and myself, in TIED UP, TIED DOWN, Skylar complains about the excessive use of the same consonant in the McKay family. And Kane asks his twin brother Kade why their mother gave them such similar names.***
I remember a series by a famous author in which the first couple in the series birthed one kid in the epilogue. Then in the next connected book that same couple were blessed with twins…but no mention of the first child. In the 3rd or 4th book, that same couple had triplets, not twins, still no mention of that poor little forgotten first kiddo. The inconsistency pulled me out of the story. Readers might think it is the copy editor’s job to double check facts and character lineage, but I wonder if the whole incident could’ve been avoided had the author created a family tree.
So I took Shelley’s suggestion to heart. Not only would an official roadmap be a bonus for readers, it’d be an easy way for me to keep track of my own characters. I checked a couple of author sites to see how they structured their family trees to get an idea of what I wanted. Then I posed the challenge to my readers loop, The James Gang, and two fabulous ladies volunteered to head up the project. Honestly, I think they’re afraid if I’m dinking around with working on a family tree I won’t actually be writing, and they’re sort of antsy for me to get the next book finished :grin:
These fans, Joy Roett and Carla Hartman created not one, not two, but three separate family trees. Immediately I sent the finished project to my website designer to post. Check out the results here.
Question of the day for readers: Do you look at family trees in the beginnings of books? Or skip over them entirely? Or would you go to the author’s website for more information?
Lorelei James writes erotic Westerns set in the modern day Wild West. For more information on books, contests and the James Gang readers yahoo group, visit Lorelei’s website: www.loreleijames.com