Dreda Say Mitchell – Writing A Series

On September 25, 2011, in Article, Author, Books, by Milo

As Hit Girls hits the books shelves on the high street I ask myself how did a single character I wrote about seven years ago turn into five books? I certainly hadn’t consciously set out to write a series of books about the same characters. So how did it happen? The trigger for writing my first novel, ‘Running Hot’, was the story of Schoolboy, a drug dealer desperate to get out of the East End underworld. I was desperate as well, wanting to share his life with anyone who would listen because Running Hot represented my opportunity to tell the world about part of the life I’d witnessed growing up on a housing estate in east London. And that was it! The publication of the book should’ve been the end of the story; I was happy to move on to write something else… but my readers had other ideas.

I started to get emails from people asking me if I was writing about some of the other characters? What about Lord Tribulation? Jackie Jarvis? Queen? It sent me into a bit of a spin because it hadn’t even occurred to me to write more about the other characters, this was Schoolboy’s story after all. Wasn’t’ it? Then I realised it wasn’t only his story and actually my starting point had been to explore a wider range of characters and London itself. I got all excited thinking about having an opportunity to pop the spotlight on another character. I will admit at this stage I didn’t have a grand plan for a series spanning umpteen books, but yeah some of the people in Running Hot deserved their own narrative.

But whom should I choose to write about next?  Two characters shot to the top of the ‘write about me’ list – Lord Tribulation and Jackie Jarvis. I’d so enjoyed writing about a male protagonist so I thought I’d go for it again with LT’s story and Killer Tune was born. Half way through writing this I had one of those light bulb moments, I realised that what I actually wanted to do most of all was write Schoolboy’s and Jackie Jarvis’ story. These two characters lives were linked and had started in Running Hot and I knew they had an ending somewhere.

So after Killer Tune I began Jackie’s story in Geezer Girls and before I knew it I had four other characters on my hands and out jumped Daisy Sullivan the lead in Gangster Girl. Schoolboy became a background character in this story and I really wanted to get back to writing about him and Jackie, so Hit Girls was born. I wanted both characters to really grown up, so I gave them some children and placed them in a critical situation. What if something happened to one of their kids? How would they react? Would they revert back to the ducking and diving they had learned on the streets years back to get justice? I’ve just started writing a whole new character that I hope to base a series on and this time around I find my planning of future books is much more organised.

To learn more visit Dreda Say Mitchell’s website or fore more video’s please visit the Hodder Website.


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