Monday, 15 June 2020

A Behind the Scenes Look at Creating a Book Series…

Did you ever wonder what goes through an author’s mind when trying to create a book series? Doesn’t matter the genre, there’s still so much planning around building a series’ premise, creating the main (and secondary) characters, doing all the needed research, plotting the stories, and finally sitting down to write the books. Actually, it’s exhausting just thinking about all those steps, but truly worth it if you want to leave behind a piece of your soul to the world.

I thought I’d give you a peek at the process of writing a series, so I decided to compile a list of questions I was asked by different interviewers about my teen psychic mystery series, Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls. I follow up each answer with a ‘behind the scenes tip’ to drive home the messages I want to convey, and to help writers get a sense of what I went through to develop this particular book series.

What inspired you to write Lost and Found?

During my year-long stint as an animal care attendant, I learned so much about the procedures and daily routines of working in an animal shelter. Then, one day, I found myself wondering what the animals would say if they could talk? How they would act and sound? What did they really think of humans? So, chasing down the animal voices frolicking in my head, I decided to write their story. The result is, Lost and Found, the first book in my teen psychic mystery series, Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls.

All the shelter animals in Lost and Found are based on an animal I cared for in some capacity at the shelter. Now, trying to come up with each animal’s unique voice wasn’t that hard for me, since I went by the personality of the cat or dog. I observed certain quirks, how each animal behaved, what were they afraid of, what they liked, and so on. What I found was that every animal (even kittens born in the same litter) was different. Just. Like. People.
When I was ready to sit down and write their story, I compiled a list of shelter animals that readers would emotionally relate to and connect with. Many came to me as a surprise, while others were firmly planted in my imagination from the very beginning.

Behind the Scenes Tip: Write what you know. Yes, you’ve heard that old song before, but I knew the ins-and-outs of how an animal shelter operated, so I applied that knowledge when it came time to plot the story and create the setting.

On Blackflies and Blueberries, how did you decide to bring blueberries and blackflies into the story?

We lived in Ontario’s cottage country for almost twelve years, and each May we had to deal with those pesky blackflies. In fact, I owe the experience of living in a small, tourist town environment to creating the Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls teen psychic mystery series. The second book in the series, Blackflies and Blueberries, came about while I volunteered to be a tutor at the local literacy council. I’ve always be drawn to the occult, paranormal, and supernatural, so I got the idea of a teen psychometrist (the psychic ability to discover facts about an event or person by touching inanimate objects associated with them) who could ‘read’ objects, but was essentially illiterate and couldn’t read most words.

I wanted the book to span through a summer season in the fictional tourist town of Fairy Falls, so I started with blackfly season (May) and ended with blueberry season (August). The title fit in so well with the theme of blackflies pollinating blueberry bushes to yield fruit, so I went with my intuition. Plus, I absolutely love blueberries!

Behind the Scenes Tip: Setting is important. Build your series world from the ground up using what you’ve experienced in real life. Use your interests and opportunities as background information for your characters. Being a volunteer for a charity or cause can give your story great bones and authenticity.

What was the biggest mental/writing challenge you faced along the way while writing Lost and Found?

I’ll give you three:

First—could I pull this book off, and make the animals sound authentic?

Second—did I do enough research on what it was like to be an animal communicator (the psychic ability featured in this book) to make my main character (Meagan Walsh) believable to readers? Then, I realized that after doing the needed research on animal behaviors and finding enough facts on animal communication, I was well on my way to writing what my heart so desperately wanted me to share with the world. I learned that animals are so empathic. They feel our energy. And sometimes, they know us better than ourselves.

Third—to create the small, tourist town of Fairy Falls—the setting that would glue this entire teen psychic mystery series together. I didn’t have to stretch my imagination that hard since I wrote what I knew based on where I was living at the time—in the heart of cottage country. So I took in the sights, smells, sounds, tastes, emotions, and feelings of this beautiful place, and added the challenges and obstacles of what it would be like for an uprooted teenager possessing a psychic ability to adjust to the day-to-day living in Fairy Falls.

Behind the Scenes Tip: Self-doubt will always creep in from time-to-time. It’s normal. Feel it, let it go, then imagine what it would be like to walk in other people’s shoes. You’ll create some awesome characters if you can do that.

Aunt Gertie is such a colorful character in Blackflies and Blueberries. Will we see more of her in Fairy Falls?

Definitely! She’s such a unique character, and is loosely-based on my mother-in-law. Since each book is set in Fairy Falls, but with a different cast of characters dealing with a psychic ability, I write in cameos for the characters of my previous book. After all, it takes many characters to create the essence and environment of a small, tourist town like Fairy Falls, so I want readers to expect the unexpected every time they pick up one of my books.

Behind the Scenes Tip: Become an observer of people. Aunt Gertie’s character was based on my deceased mother-in-law (with a few quirks added), and if you do it right, readers will want to continue seeing them throughout the series.

How did writing Lost and Found change you as a person?

Realizing that we (including animals) are all here to serve in some capacity. Whether that’s through our experiences, creative expressions, careers, professions, being parents or caregivers, we’ve all got something to contribute to this world while we’re alive. It doesn’t matter if it’s in a big or small way, we all matter, we all have voices, and we need to be brave enough to use them.

Behind the Scenes Tip: Writing and publishing a book is a humbling and exhaustive experience. Every book you write will change you in some manner. That’s the beauty of creating something from nothing, of becoming a butterfly from a caterpillar.

Diana MacGregor's little sister Nancy is a perfect sidekick in Blackflies and Blueberries. Her addition was truly brilliant. Were you as curious as Nancy when you were a child?

Yes. I always wondered what went on beneath the surface. Once a guidance counsellor suggested that a career as a detective might be a good fit. Can you imagine? LOL! I guess I was always an intuitive child, but didn’t realize this as an adult. It took me a long time to uncover this ability again, and thankfully I found it when I started writing in my mid-thirties.

Behind the Scenes Tip: Never underestimate the power of your intuition. It will lead you to create amazing characters that readers will relate to.

What have you found has been the most effective marketing technique for Lost and Found so far?

I reached out to couple with two animal rescue organizations at a few of their events when Lost and Found came out, and gave a portion of my book sales to help with the care and needs of the dogs and cats they had rescued. In a way, I felt by writing this book, I was being a ‘voice’ for the underdogs/cats in shelters everywhere, bringing awareness to the plight of animal shelters, and the continual need for fundraising, adoption, and spay and neuter programs.

I’ve also managed to get my book into a pet food store chain, and attended a literary event to promote Lost and Found, while sharing the spotlight with the manager of our local Humane Society. Of course, never underestimate the power of social media, and all those animal lovers out there!

Behind the Scenes: There’s always a way you can promote your book series through your community, especially at fund raisers or charities that your characters are invested in. Go deep, and pull out those promotional golden nuggets.
What advice would you give other writers now that you’ve been through this process?

Trust that inner voice of yours that’s telling you to write her/his/their/your story. Write what’s important to you, what you want to say, in whatever genre you’re compelled to write in. Don’t follow trends, they change. Know that you’ll be in it for the long haul if you want to make it as career writer, so don’t give up on your dreams. And the most important: please, please, please don’t compare yourself to other writers. They’re on their own journey, and you’re on yours, so put your blinders on and follow your heart.

Behind the Scenes Tip: Be authentic in every story you pen, and remember that patience is truly a virtue. You’ll get there, word by word.

Is there one thing you'd like readers to know about you?

I love to uplift people, even if I just get a smile out of a person. I use humor in all my books as a way of connection, and to hopefully make a reader’s day better and brighter. I guess it’s the way I can serve authentically and just be myself!

Behind the Scenes Tip: Always add value to others. After all, we’re built to serve.

I hope you’ve gleaned some value from this Q&A, and if you have any further questions about developing a book series, please leave them in the comments section, and I’ll answer them in a timely fashion. Cheers and thank you for reading my blog!

Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls Teen Psychic Mystery Series:
Lost and Found, Book One Buy Links:
Blackflies and Blueberries, Book Two Buy Links:


  1. Excellent post! Congrats on all your accomplishments!

    1. Thanks so much for your kind support and words, Andrew! Really appreciate it! Cheers, my friend!

    2. You're welcome. Cheers to you, too!

  2. I think Andrew said it all, and I agree with him. :)

    1. The check is in the mail, Helen! LOL! Thanks so much!

  3. Excellent post with great advice.

    1. Thanks so much, Catherine! Appreciate your kind input. Cheers!

  4. Congrats, Sharon on all that you have accomplished. I see a bright future for you and this series!

    1. What a wonderful compliment, Lisa! Thanks so much. Better clean off my shades, then. Wink. Cheers, my friend!