24 November 2010

Absence Makes The Heart...Lose Interest?

I know the saying should be 'Absence makes the heart grow fonder'. But...does it? Grow fonder that is?

I was thinking about this the other night in relation to books. Writing a book takes time (among other things). And authors aren't chained to their computers (even though, secretly, in deep, dark places in the corner of our minds that we don't like to talk about let alone think of, we want them to be...or perhaps that is just me :) and have lives outside of writing *shock horror* so are unlikely to churn out books like a production line. (And would we like the results if they did?)

As a consequence of the time factor, there are often gaps between the release of books in a series (unless the author has the whole series written before publication of the first book :) But, I'm curious...what size gap is 'acceptable' (for want of a better word) and what is too long? Because, even though I don't like to tar us (humanity) with this brush, we do to all intents and purposes live in a society of instant gratification. We want more, faster and bigger than before. And, if we don't get it, we move on to something else. The next big thing. Anticipation eventually...dies.

So, if you have to wait 6 months for the next book in a series are you still anticipating its release? Do you want to pick it up? What if that wait was 1 year? Or 2 years?


  1. I don't think time is a factor in me losing interest in a series at all. BUT, the longer it takes for the next book in a series to be published, the higher my expectations are for it.

  2. I have to say I have 2 series that the author puts out a book every YEAR. SERIOUSLY a year between each release but it doesn't matter because I LOVE LOVE LOVE the books so much that I can't help but wait for them with anticipation!! So while I think for a new author too much time is a bad. For an established author it actually doesn't matter.

    The series are the Dresdan Files (Jim Butcher) and Black Jewels (Anne Bishop) LOL

  3. Well, if it's too long, I forget everything about the series and then get cranky. :)

  4. I'm with heidenkind on this one. If the wait is longer, my expectations about the quality of the book increase.

  5. Orannia if I'm really interested in the series, the wait doesn't really affect my enthusiasm for it. I'll buy the book and read it as soon as it's released. :)

  6. The worst gap I've had so far is in Stephen King's The Dark Tower series; book 3, The Waste Lands, came out in 1991 and had a cliff-hanger ending. The next book was 1997 and was mostly flashback/pre-series stuff, and the next one after that wasn't until 2003 (although he has now finished the series!).

    There are a few series where I've stopped reading them individually and are waiting for them to be finished, because the gaps were too long and the stories were too complex to remember all the details (e.g. George RR Martin's Game of Thrones series). Others, like Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan books, I'll just pick up the latest as it comes out.

  7. Six months is about right for me. I can handle a year--more than that, and I'm not very interested.

    My best friend is a huge Diana Gabaldon fan, and her Outlander series requires long, long waits between books. I'm so glad I'm not one of her fans!

  8. heidenkind - really good point, and something I hadn't considered. Although I guess it depends how long the author has spent on the book itself...because the delay may be due to something other than a slow writing process.

    Sarai - I adore the Black Jewel series and am happy to wait for a year. And great point WRT the delay on a new author versus an established one. If an author has built up his/her reputation then fans are more likely to want to wait. I still haven't read any of the Harry Dresden books yet :(

    Chris - definitely! And it's worse if it's a complicated series with the important in the detail. (The fantasy series I'm currently reading is a great example :) Then again, there is only so much overviewing I can handle in one book :)

    Kris - *nods* Although, IIRC Lover Unbound (JR Ward) was released late as the author re-wrote a lot of the book, and that was a book that caused a lot of discussion...and not in a good way :) I think it might be fair to say that in that case the expectation wasn't delivered upon for the majority of readers.

  9. Hils - yes! Sarai mentioned the Black Jewel series, and I seem to have no problem waiting for those books :)

    cyphomandra - am so with you WRT George RR Martin's series, although...considering that the books could be WAY shorter I'm honestly not sure if I'd go back and re-read them...that's if he ever gets around to finishing the series!

    Medical Librarian - welcome :) A year does seem to be the tipping point for most people.

  10. It all depends on how deeply the first (or previous) book affected me.

    For several (six? seven?) years I waited with bated breath for each successive release of Suzanne Brockmann's Troubleshooters--but since those were released twice or once a year at most, they probably don't meet your criteria :grin:

    Then there were the Outlander books. Even though the wait between installments was loooooooooong, I would usually re-start the series a couple of months before the scheduled release of the latest one, to refresh myself on the different and inter crossing storylines--but I confess that after the fifth I have lost the passion for the series.

    So... yeah, it all depends :grin:

  11. I prefer 6 months to 1 year wait time between books, but if I absolutely LOVE the series, it technically shouldn't matter. But I know myself and know that if the time between books is longer than a year or so, I start to forget some details that enthralled me in the first place and then my interest starts to wane.