Tuesday, February 21, 2012


The Fun of Writing a Series

I’m like the rest of you avid mystery readers, I love nothing better than to sink my teeth into a good mystery series and follow the characters from book to book as they take on lives of their own. But when I set out to write my first mystery book, I wasn’t certain it was going to be a series. My first objective was to see if I could write the bloody book and once written whether I could convince a publisher to publish it.

But I knew that if I achieved both these objectives, my heroine, Meg Harris, would live on to solve another murder. And so she has through 5 books and onto a 6th one that I am currently writing. And I have had great fun watching her life expand and grow with each book. And not only her, but some of the people around her, like Eric Odjick, her on again, off again lover.

It is however not without its difficulties. With the writing of the first book, Death’s Golden Whisper, I paid little attention to details. I just wrote them into the story as they were encountered and didn’t make note of them. So when it came time to write the second book, Red Ice for a Shroud, I found myself constantly going back to the first book to see what colour I had made Eric’s eyes, even Meg’s, the distance of her home, Three Deer Point, to Somerset, the nearest town, her mother’s name and so on and so forth.

I eventually started keeping a log of all these key points, but invariably some are missed. So even now with my current book I find myself having to search through previous books to ensure details are correct and consistent, like the hockey team Eric played for in his younger days or the age of Meg’s beloved Sergei, her black standard poodle. All I can say is thank goodness for technology. A simple key word search usually gets me to the proper spot in the book. I just have to remember which book the reference is in. Occasionally however, I do slip up. So if you do come across something that is not consistent between books, please let me know.

However, what I enjoy the most about writing a series are the characters themselves. They really do take on lives of their own. With each book I get to know Meg better and Eric. In fact I have found myself falling in love with Eric and wish like hell that Meg would see reason. And that is the fun of it. As much as I want Meg to do what I want her to do, she doesn’t, because she has a mind of her own. She isn’t me. She has her own personality, her own foibles and she needs to work her way through them. And she does in A Green Place for Dying. And I have had fun with this latest book, because several seeds were planted in earlier books and they now come to fruition. So you the reader will learn that much more about Meg, the same way I did.

By the way, although A Green Place for Dying, the 5th book in the Meg Harris series, is now in available in bookstores and on online, its official launch is next Tuesday, Feb. 28 in Ottawa from 7:00 pm to 9:00 at the Heart and Crown Pub in the Market. Come join the celebration.

Ottawa writer RJ Harlick, writes the acclaimed Meg Harris mystery series set in the wilds of Quebec. Like her heroine Meg Harris, RJ loves nothing better than to roam the forests surrounding her own wilderness cabin or paddle the endless lakes and rivers. The 4th book, Arctic Blue Death was a finalist in the 2010 Arthur Ellis Award for Best Novel. Hot new release, A Green Place for Dying is the 5th and latest in the series. According to Publishers Weekly “Meg Harris…gets an education in evil in Harlick’s absorbing fifth mystery.”


  1. Congrats, Robin! Remembering birthdays and the ages of children is also a challenge. Looking forward to the party!

  2. Great information. It's so easy to forget those details. And congratulations on the success of A GREEN PLACE FOR DYING.