Or guest rooster? E.J. Copperman is a pseudonym and now you know the writer behind it is a guy – and a great one! Today he shares what it’s like to hit the double digits in a mystery series. (1-0! Wow!)
What It’s Like to Hit Book #10 in a Series
It is totally unexpected. When the Haunted Guesthouse series began with NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEED in 2010, my longest-running series had just ended with three titles published. So the suggestion that BONES BEHIND THE WHEEL, the tenth book in the series, would be coming out this month (yesterday, if you’re being accurate) was something I would have laughed off.
But for some reason (one of which was that I became E.J. Copperman), that book seemed to catch the imagination of a larger number of readers than I’d ever reached before. According to its original publisher, the first eight books in the series (and two e-book-only novellas) have sold over 183,000 copies. They have shipped 235,000, but maybe some got lost or something, or are still in warehouses or on bookstore shelves.
I’m not bragging–okay, yes I am bragging, but I have a point–to say that I didn’t expect to come up with ten stories for Alison Kerby, her daughter Melissa, her mother and (deceased) father and two in-house ghosts Paul and Maxie to have to cope with. I thought it would be three and out, like in the old days. After all, I had a three-book contract, which people actually got in those days.
What the success of the series did for me was make it possible to stop doing some old gigs I really didn’t like. I’ve been a freelance writer full-time for 34 years, so it’s not like I could give up my day job – this was my day job. It also made it possible to sell three more book series, all of which I’m afraid have now gone by the wayside, one because the publishing company is closing its doors.
But the ten-book series has always been the heart of my work and I was determined never to write the same book twice. So Alison, in DEED a newly-divorced mother of a nine-year-old who didn’t know ghosts existed and hadn’t seen her father since he’d passed away, is in BONES BEHIND THE WHEEL a newly re-married mother of a 13-year old daughter (who’s probably smarter than she is) and has any amount of proof that ghosts –like her dad–exist and can be just as inconvenient and annoying in death as they were in life.
The ghosts were never meant to be scary. I’m not a fan of horror stories and have no doubt that I couldn’t begin to write one. Instead the ghosts in Haunted Guesthouse are more in the vein of the Topper series, in which they’re exactly like they were when they were alive, only less easy to get along with because sometimes they’re trying to help and sometimes they’re just amusing themselves. Eternity, it turns out, is a very long time and can be very boring. That leads to some less-than-appropriate behavior.
Instead, my books aim very clearly to make you laugh while you’re sifting through the clues and trying to guess ahead of me, which might not be that hard. Sometimes I don’t know who did it until I reach the page where I have to reveal it. Then I have to go back and rewrite to make the whole thing plausible.
In BONES BEHIND THE WHEEL Alison is trying very hard not to get involved in an investigation, but one comes looking for her. The state of New Jersey is doing some excavation on the beach behind her house (because Hurricane Sandy was only six years ago, and why rush?) and in the process of moving the sand around a vintage Lincoln Continental is discovered buried behind Alison’s house. That would be puzzling enough, but there’s a human skeleton in the car.
Like I said, Alison really doesn’t want to investigate, but Paul the dead detective does (he likes to keep his transparent hand in his work) and to Alison’s surprise, her new husband Josh, who can’t see or hear the ghosts, wants to look into it too. So you know it’ll only be a matter of time before Alison has to snoop around again. It has to stay a mystery novel, doesn’t it? After all, we’d all like there to be a Book #11.
BIO: E.J. Copperman is an alias to keep anyone from knowing who E.J. Copperman is, which in the age of Google is completely pointless. Nonetheless, BONES BEHIND THE WHEEL is E.J.’s 25th published mystery novel (under two names) and the Asperger’s Mystery series, Agent to the Paws mystery series and Mysterious Detective series are still out there if you look hard enough. E.J. lives in New Jersey and likes it, so keep the sass to yourself. Visit E.J. at: http://www.ejcopperman.com/
Shop for his books at: http://www.crookedlanebooks.com/titles/bones-behind-the-wheel/
Readers, is there a series you wish would go on forever? Besides all of ours, of course!