Friday, June 2, 2017

Ending a Series: Guest Post by Margaret Maron

Margaret Maron:
Ending a Series 

When Fugitive Colors, the 8th in my Sigrid Harald series, was published, I assumed that would be the last time I'd write about this NYPD homicide detective. There was an arc to her story and that arc had been completed.

Period. The end.

Or so I thought.

But then NC District Court Judge Deborah Knott and her deputy sheriff husband Dwight Bryant decided to have a belated honeymoon in New York and her new sister-in-law offered them the use of her Upper West Side apartment. Thus, Three-Day Town. Naturally, a body wound up in that apartment and who should come to investigate?

While Dwight and Sigrid worked well together, Sigrid and Deborah did not exactly bond, which rather amused me. I thought it would be fun to see how Sigrid reacted on Deborah's turf, so I brought her south in Buzzard Table. Again, she and Dwight were on the same page, but it was clear that she and Deborah were never going to become BFFs.

Nevertheless, rereading the series reminded me that I had indeed left some loose threads the first time around: unanswered questions about her artist lover's death, some early modern paintings hidden in an old historical house in lower Manhattan. Chronologically, Take Out comes after Fugitive Colors, but well before Three-Day Town. Subways still took tokens then, the Trade Towers still stood, and one could smoke in most restaurants.

Now I've tied off all those threads and this time, it really is the end.

At least I think it is, just as I think that Long Upon the Land is the last in my Deborah Knott series. I've said almost everything there is to say about her and her huge family. I don't want to start repeating myself and I'm more than ready to be done with deadlines. I began my career with short stories and that's how I plan to end it. (Two are currently in the queue at EQMM.) Life in the slow lane. I want to smell the gardenias and put a dent in the stack of books piled beside my favorite reading chair.

On the other hand . . .?

Deborah's first appearance was in a short story anthology that Sara Paretsky edited. She just walked into my head running her mouth and wouldn't shut up, so who knows if another character will do the same?

Margaret Maron is a founding member and third president of Sisters in Crime. Named a Grand Master by Mystery Writers of America, she was inducted into the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame in 2016. 
The Deborah Knott Series (20): 
▪ Bootlegger's Daughter, 1992 
▪ Southern Discomfort, 1993 
▪ Shooting at Loons, 1994 ▪ Up Jumps the Devil, 1996 
▪ Killer Market, 1997 
▪ Home Fires, 1998 
▪ Storm Track, 2000 
▪ Uncommon Clay, 2001 
▪ Slow Dollar, 2002 
▪ High Country Fall, 2004 
▪ Rituals of the Season, 2005 
▪ Winter’s Child, 2006 
▪ Hard Row, 2007 
▪ Death’s Half Acre, 2008


Linnea said...

I understand why you want to be done, but I will miss both women. It is hard to be done with two interesting and engaging women. I wish they could go on forever.

johnnabooks said...

I can understand the reason behind ending the series, but its still heartbreaking. I've been such a huge fan of Deborah Knott for years

Kitty said...

I will miss both series but especially Deborah. My son was stationed at Fort Bragg so we spent some time in the area and I could really appreciate what you were talking about. I will look forward to the short stories.

Wayne said...

I have been a fan since Shooting at Loons was published. I met you in Durham at a reading that you did. That night I bought your book and any earlier books I could find. I have since bought each book as it became available. Thanks so much for the many wonderful hours of reading pleasure you have provided to me. I don't know how many 70 year old men are in your group of fans but you have at least one.

Triss said...

I read the story that was Deborah's first appearance and have been interested ever since. I'll just have to hope a new character shows up and demands your attention :-)

Rita Owen said...

While I await Take Out, I'm revisiting all the books in the Sigurd saga, after which I plan to go back to read/re-read all of the zdeborah books. I came into the zdeborah books midway in the series. Thank you, Margaret, for so many wonderful books. I will look forward to the short stories with the same level of anticipation. Enjoy "slowing down". Life doesn't have to be all about deadlines.

lindap said...

I can't remember when I didn't have a Deborah Knott in the wings. I will sorely miss her and her large complicated family. You brought me multiple hours of escape and anticipation of the next down home adventure. Thank God you can pull actual books off the shelf for a re-read.

Cynthia Sample said...

Deborah has her own shelf in my house and there's still room for more! But life without deadlines sounds quite pleasant.

Lu Postov said...

I got Bootlegger's Daughter from a secondhand books store we use to have on our street in 1997. It was tiny paperback book (i still have it) and I thought it would be easy for me to read, i was just learning English than. After that I found all your book in the library, some of the them I bought the newest ones. It is a good ending, i don't like to read that Mr.Knott died, i know he is a very old but still some people should live forever, even if only in our hearts. Thank you

Neville Withington said...

Thank you for both Sigrid and Deborah. I found Sigrid as you were writing her series and I am pleased to catch up with her story. It has also been great hanging out with Deborah, though I wasn't quite sure what to make of her at first. I will miss them both

Neville Withington said...

Thank you for both Sigrid and Deborah. I found Sigrid while you were writing the series and was disappointed when her arc ended. Thank you for bringing her back. I have enjoyed hanging with Deborah, though I was not sure what to make of her and her family at first
I will miss them both

redheadsrule said...

Understandable, but I will miss getting new books. However, I do love revisiting old friends and will happily do that for years. Thank you for some wonderful storytelling!

Debra Gray said...

Please you can't leave us without another Debra book. She needs to have a baby or something. I live and wait for your books. Love them.

Nancy V said...

I have followed the Deborah Knott books for many years, reading each as soon as it came out and then eagerly awaiting the next one. My favorites were those which were set in a specifically North Carolina environment , whether it was the furniture industry, pottery industry, Wilmington and the beach, tobacco farms, or hurricane season. I felt like I knew these characters. They were comfortable friends and I miss them.
Like Deborah, I never warmed to Sigrid.

Anonymous said...

Still loose ends in the Knott series--other brothers and nieces and nephews.

Anonymous said...

Sigrid, as stiff as she is, always was my favorite; maybe because though I spent decades in the country, I am a city girl. But I think Margaret deserves some time. I gave up deadlines three and a half years ago. It's grand.

Abbey said...

YAY!!!! SIGRID, whoo hoo!!!

Told ya, TOLD ya, MM, when Three-Day came out, that Sigrid *needed* "just one more!!", didn't I??? and you told me that you knew it but "weren't ready yet...".

Dear MM, thank you, thank you for this, for working your way thru those difficult emotional bits, and allowing us to have "one more visit" with Sigrid - and you!

affectionately, Abbey in Boston
who abhores the term "closure" but appreciates the tying up of loose ends!

Anonymous said...

I've never seen so many comments here..Deborah and Sigurd are indeed beloved characters. I, too, never warmed to Sigurd but perhaps I should give her another try. As an almost 80 year old retired academic librarian I can never have to many books in my TBR stack! Thank you for hours of mesmerizing reading.

Elizabeth Zelvin said...

Thanks especially for Deborah, for that huge family making music on the porch (I don't wish I'd had eleven brothers, but, oh, the music!), and for letting Dwight and Deborah get married (I know it was Dwight's idea, not yours). And Margaret, thanks for describing perfectly what writers live for, since it certainly isn't the deadlines or the you-know-what: those moments when a character walks into your head and won't shut up.

PaFarmer said...

I was born in South Carolina, spent 3 years in NYC while Dad was in grad school, before landing in Raleigh-Durham NC until age 19. Then I followed my heart and married a farmer and moved to PA.
The thing I loved best about Deborah Knott and her crazy family, is the connection they gave me with my home. I recognized characters from my own life and the location always transported me home.
If you see fit to bring Deborah Knott back in any form I will enjoy reading it. If not, I can reread the entire series.

Kathy said...

I responded best to tbe Deborah Knott series. I think it is because of all the human connections. I miss her and the family and would like to have more of them. Having said that,I know I can always visit them with a re-read. I truly respect the creative process and knowing when something is finished for the creator.

Donis Casey said...

How we'll miss Sigrid and Deborah, Margaret. I'll continually wonder what they're up to now. I hope we'll still see you around here and there!

Barbara said...

I understand retiring as I am retired myself but Deborah and Dwight were my favorites. I sure miss them.

Alene Harrison said...

I am SO SAD to know that there will be no more Deborah Knott books. I re-read ALL of them about once a year and actually feel as if I know her and her family - as if I would recognize them if I met them walking down the street. That is one of my personal criteria for books that I read over and over and OVER . . . the people in the book have to have become as real to me as my neighbors and friends. I may also be one of the few who loves Sigrid Harald too. I am delighted we will have one more book about her, but am sad it will be the end. Thank goodness I found all of your Sigrid series at various used bookstores online and have them in my possession because the L.A. County Library doesn't carry even one. I understand your wish to be free of deadlines but that doesn't make the "end" any less painful. Thank you for all these wonderful books!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for Deborah and Sigrid and all of their friends. I understand why you're stopping, but I'll certainly miss them.

Unknown said...

Add me to the list of those who will miss Deborah Knott. I eagerly awaited the next part of her series and am sad that there will be no more.

marty grieger said...

As I begin rereading the Deborah books again, for the umpteenth time, I would be overjoyed to think another "could" come!

Sharon piper said...

Sigried and Deborah are two of my favorite women and I have read and reread their adventures over the years. I was surprised and not prepared for them to end! I will genuinely miss them both.

Storyteller Mary said...

Thank you for such strong and caring book-friends, and all the hard work bringing them to life. I understand the desire to relax and smell the roses, but stand (sit) ready to read any more you feel inspired to write.

klj said...

Suspected Long Upon the Land was 'The End' when I read it - thanks for such a rounding out of Deborah's story [or not if she demands another short story]. As for Sigrid - amazing! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! Am so looking forward to Take Out.