In her youth, Kassandra Lamb had two great passions—psychology and writing. Advised that writers need day jobs—and being partial to eating—she studied psychology. Her career as a psychotherapist and college professor taught her much about the dark side of human nature but also much about resilience, perseverance, and the healing power of laughter. Now retired, she spends most of her time in an alternate universe populated by her fictional characters. The portal to this universe (aka her computer) is located in North Central Florida, where her husband and dog catch occasional glimpses of her.
Should auld acquaintance be forgot…
The last year has been eventful for Marcia and her husband, Will. They’ve successfully launched their private investigation agency and completed their family with an adorable but creatively energetic baby girl. They’re about to ring in the New Year with friends and neighbors, but there’s something more than champagne bubbling in Mayfair, Florida.
The octogenarian matriarch of the town is always looking for ways to boost the community’s economy. Her latest scheme is the addition of a row of shops along Main Street. But a few of her new tenants have something more nefarious in mind than simply selling their wares.
When old hostilities set off New Year’s fireworks, a shopkeeper ends up dead, and two friends of Marcia’s are prime suspects. Determined to clear them, Marcia and Will—with Buddy’s help, of course—set out to uncover the real Grim Reaper.
I’m ending a mystery series this month for the second time in my writing career. And letting go of old friends, i.e., the series’ characters, is not any easier this time around.
There are lots of good reasons for ending a series, one of them being that the main character(s) have reached the culmination of their character arc. They start out with flaws, issues, neuroses to overcome, and over the course of the series, they mature and grow.
When it gets to the point where those issues are mostly resolved, their arc is complete, and it’s time to let go.
I’m happy for my main characters, Marcia and her husband. Their lives are going well, and they have an adorable baby girl now. I’m happy they will get to enjoy the fruits of their labor. (And I’m excited about the new series I’m starting.)
But on the other hand, it feels like good friends—or maybe grown children would be a better analogy—are moving to the other side of the world. It’s not just that they are going away, but I won’t be keeping in touch with them. I won’t know what’s happening in their lives. No phone calls, no emails, no texts!
And it’s not just the main characters I will miss. These stories were set in a small fictitional Florida town called Mayfair, a town I have grown to love as much as Marcia does.
I’m going to miss all the quirky neighbors—the octogenarian town matriarch who wears brightly colored muumuus and flip-flops, and the regal Black woman, a retired schoolteacher, who lives next door and who always has a pitcher of iced tea in her fridge and some sound advice to offer.
And even more secondary characters—the matriarch’s niece, sweet Susanna Mayfair, who shares Marcia’s love of horses, and her son Dexter, not the brightest bulb in the package but a truly loveable guy. And Marcia’s friends, the Mayfair diner’s owner Jess, and Marcia’s fellow service dog trainer, Carla, and her best friend, Becky. Oh, and Marcia’s mom and her new stepfather.
Most of these characters have also grown and changed over the course of the 13-book series. And I feel like they are my friends and neighbors too.
But I’m leaving them and Mayfair behind. I won’t be able to stroll down its streets again—the fictitious Black Lab Buddy on his leash—waving at folks or stopping to gossip.
Yes, it’s time to let Marcia and her crew have some peace and quiet. No more murderers or other culprits will be coming their way, making life scary and difficult in their little town. I’m happy for them.
But I’m sure gonna miss all those good folks!
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Parting is such sweet sorrow… But don’t close the door completely. Maybe, down he road, you’ll find your way back to Mayfair again. Good luck.
I always leave the door ever so slightly ajar, Michael. I might very well write another novella or two down the road.
I enjoyed this emotion-evoking and fun post, Kassandra. Thanks. Your explanation for why you choose to stop writing a series is clear and logical. What do you think of series that don’t seem to quit even after the couple is married with children and happy? For instance, Victoria Thompson’s Gaslight Mysteries Series or some TV shows like Bones. So many still enjoy them–maybe insert here that I still enjoy them–and they have many readers/viewers. Do you think that in these cases, the characters are still growing and changing?
I do think that series are sometimes extended beyond their natural end. Sometimes I can’t help wondering if it’s because the author and/or publisher wants to keep making money off a successful series, so they keep it going when they probably shouldn’t.
TV shows perhaps fall into a different category. I’m a huge Law and Order, Special Victims fan, and they’re going on their twenty-something season, and it still seems fresh to me…but they’ve had a lot of characters come and go. Those new characters can develop and change, and Olivia Benson and Fin provide the continuity (and they’ve changed as well over the years).
Thank you so much, George, for having me as a guest.
Glad you were able to stop by and share your story with us.