Any time an established series author begins a new series with a new protagonist, there are bound to be comparisons between characters. I'm guilty of that myself. I absolutely loved JA Jance's JP Beaumont, and when I first read her Joanna Brady books, I admit I didn't love them. Joanna didn't have the depth that Beau had, I felt, and the books felt too light in tone next to her first series.
This was exactly what concerned me when I moved from writing my Annie Seymour books to my tattoo shop mysteries. I knew there was going to be a huge difference between the two series, between the two protagonists. I had a lot of people emailing me and telling me that they were going to miss Annie, why wasn't I going to keep on with her? Sure, they agreed to have an open mind and read the new books, but they couldn't let go.
I did think I got past that a little, because THE MISSING INK has gotten great reviews, and all of my first readers thought it was the best book I'd written. But an Amazon review made me realize that some people are always going to love Annie a little bit better than Brett: "The concept is great! As a tattooed woman, I felt it certainly had promise. I learned some interesting things. But Brett's character just didn't seem to have much depth, and the whole package didn't quite measure up--possibly because Olson's other series IS so good, I had high expectations."
But then the reviewer continued, and I began to see that it wasn't just a difference between the two characters, but the reviewer's own feelings about a lighter type of mystery: "I will read the next in series, but I have become very disillusioned with cozies in general . . ."
While JA Jance continued with the same sort of police procedural with her Joanna Brady books, I completely changed the style of book I was writing. I went from a much darker, grittier, four-letter-word type book to something lighter, breezier, with an amateur sleuth who in the real world would have nothing to do with crime solving. I don't feel it's completely fair to compare, but I do know it's inevitable.
How about you? When a favorite author switches gears and protagonists, do you find yourself comparing the two?
Causes Karen Olson Supports
Cystic Fibrosis Foundation