"The Same, Only Different"

Over at Maine Crime Writers, Kate Flora has an interesting interview with New York Times bestselling author Julia Spencer-Fleming. The whole thing is worth reading, but I was particularly impressed with the way Julia approaches the challenge of writing a series of novels with the same protagonists:

One of my goals as a writer is, “same, only different.” In other words, when a reader picks up a book with my name on it, she can expect a certain type of read—mystery, romance, a fast-paced plot, action, social issues. But at the same time, I never want her to read the same book twice. So I play around a lot with form, chronology, and points of view. It’s endlessly fascinating to me, the way the framework of fiction effects the plot and the reading experience.

I'm just finishing up the third Mike Bowditch book, and one of the questions that's hung over my desk for the past year has been how to balance the old and the new. Offer too much that's familiar and your books will feel like clones of each other; offer too many wild departures and your fans will think you're indulging yourself at their expense. I admire the way Julia has managed to walk that tightrope over the course of her successful career.