John Hudson intrigues me. Given that I’m “finished” with the Olman County series, this is a bit of a perturbing development. Nonetheless, he does.
When I first set up that series, John was a nasty piece of work. He was a chip off his old man’s block, his mother’s son through and through. But as the series unfolded, so did that two-dimensional idea of John. Instead of being a nasty person, he ended up being a sympathetic, somewhat flawed, endearing character with a surprisingly smart-alecky view of the world. A guy who has a lot of advantages but isn’t necessarily happy. And while he became more than a two-dimensional character, he never took the lead. I’m thinking that’s a shame.
Now, I have a tendency to go back and re-read my own stuff. It’s kind of a relaxation thing, a way of letting my mind drift while doing something at the same time. Maybe a bit odd, but there you have it. And over the last few days, I’ve been revisiting Leroy.
This is good and bad. Good because it’s fun, bad because it reminds me how much I really want John to have his own story. Here’s the thing, though. I don’t want to write another romantic suspense novel. I don’t want to solve mysteries in my writing, not like I did in that series. That’s the main reason I walked away from the Olman County series – I got really tired of wrapping romance in suspense or vice versa.
But I’ve had something of an epiphany in the way I view that series and my writing, and that’s simply that the characters can continue without falling into the canon of the series. They can spin off or wander into genres they didn’t originate in. Why not? It won’t affect the main body of the series if I steal John and give him a straight-up romance of his own or drop him into a world full of paranormal wonder. What can it hurt? Now, it might not be popular or well-received. But who cares?
This is where being self-published gives me a distinct advantage over traditionally published writers. I set my own rules. I do try to follow certain conventions when it comes to how to handle series, but if I want to bend or break those rules, that’s my choice.
I guess what I’m saying is that I shouldn’t let good characters languish if they can have a “life” elsewhere. If I’m not going to bring them to live in a book that’s part of the series from whence they came, why not move them to a different universe?
I don’t see myself doing this with anyone from the Firefly Hollow universe. That series is special to me in a different way than the Olman County series. I’m tremendously fond of our friends from Leroy, but the Campbells and their kin feel like family. So I’m not going to pull Owen out and drop him in Leroy or on Mars or something. No worries there.
But I do like the idea of taking John Hudson and exploring his possibilities. It may come to nothing, or it may turn out to be something. And that’s the other beautiful thing about this work – I don’t have to do something if I don’t want to. I’m not locked in to a contract that would force me to do something for the character that might not be what’s best for them. I like having that option. I like not being forced to cookie-cutter stamp out books because it’s expected.
So… John Hudson. Maybe we’ll see him soon. Maybe not. But it could happen, and that’s exciting.