I have always wanted to write, although it took me until I was 34 years old to believe I could really write an entire novel. In the 4th grade I wrote my first little love story – Mr.and Mrs. Quack – about two ducks! I also wrote poetry – tons and tons of it. Sometimes I think I should put all of it together in a little book of poems. Maybe I’ll try that. I was the editor of our high school newsletter – editor of a house organ where I was once employed – and I took a correspondence course in creative writing over 40 years ago.
I have always been captivated by America’s history and read stories about nothing but pioneers and Indians. When I read a book called A LANTERN IN HER HAND by Bess Streeter Aldrich – and then the wonderful saga THE PROUD BREED by Celeste de Blasis, I realized I had to try my hand at writing a novel. After 9 tries, I finally sold my first book, SWEET PRAIRIE PASSION, which became the first book of what turned out to be a 7-book series (SAVAGE DESTINY) which after 30 years is still selling!
I try to write every day, and in the beginning when I was still working full time I often stayed at the computer (back then it was a typewriter!) until 2:00 a.m. and then get up by 5:00 a.m. to get my family off to work and school and myself to work. I got little sleep but managed to make it through the many other challenges that came along – all because I loved what I was doing and I love telling “true” American history through my fictitious stories, full of romance and adventure.
You asked about the “best and worst” aspects of writing a series. My longest series was SAVAGE DESTINY, mentioned above – and I have written several trilogies (see my web site). Each of those trilogies was meant to be a continuing series of 5 – 7 books, but for some odd reason the publisher(s) decided to stop after 3 books. I LOVE writing series stories, because I become very attached to my characters, and when you are writing about American history, it is easy to begin with one couple and follow the children and grandchildren as America was settled. I hate leaving my characters, and so do my readers! They get attached, too, and with practically every book or series I have written, my readers don’t want the stories to end. They write to me asking what happened next to the characters or to their children.
The only drawback to writing series stories is that sales aren’t always as good as single titles. This happens because when some readers realize the book they have picked up is part of a series, they don’t want to read it unless they can get the previous books – or they aren’t sure where their particular book falls in the series, so they don’t buy it at all.
Next spring book #58, a brand new book by Rosanne Bittner, will be published by Sourcebooks – PARADISE VALLEY. I hope you will watch for it. Just keep watching www.sourcebooks.com as well as my own web site www.rosannebittner.com for details! And be sure to check out my blog at www.rosannebittner.blogspot.com. Thank you so much and enjoy your summer!
About the Author:
Recently we lost an icon of TV westerns, James Arness, better known as Matt Dillon of the longest-running TV western ever, GUNSMOKE. I was very saddened to hear this, partly because Matt Dillon was my hero in my teens, and also because there are so few TV heroes left — actually, none that I can think of. TV sets no good examples of a strong line between "good" and "bad" any more. The old westerns did that. Cheesy sometimes, but kids understood that if you did something "bad" you had to pay for it. Respect, honor, manners — very little of any of that on TV any more. GUNSMOKE survived as long as it did because it had several characters with whom one could identify and empathize — like Doc Adams, Chester Good, Festus, and Matt Dillon's long-time "girlfriend" Kitty. The only western hero left as far as I can see is Clint Eastwood. When he is gone it will be a HUGE loss for quality movies as well as another icon of western movies and also TV (remember Rowdy Yates of RAWHIDE?). I always wanted to be able to meet James Arness in person, but now that will never happen. Still, he remains "alive" to me through continued re-runs of GUNSMOKE, which I watch every evening.