I’m delighted to have Jordan Castillo Price as my guest this week. She’s answering questions about her recently completed serial Turbulence
Becky: You’ve written series books before, like PsyCop and Channeling Morpheus. How did you approach writing a serial differently from those?
Jordan: There’s always a learning curve. I was pretty green when I sold the first PsyCop and Channeling Morpheus books so I hadn’t planned them as series. For PsyCop, I realized I had a lot more to say about Jacob and Vic once the first story was published, and for Channeling Morpheus, the publisher asked me to expand the first story into a series. So the series arcs weren’t planned until after the initial debut of the characters and the storyline.
I’d say for a serial, since I know there’s going to be another block of story coming in a month, I’m freer about ending the installment on a suspenseful note. In fact, I’d say that’s the point of serialization, building the suspense month to month.
Becky: Was the whole story planned and/or written beforehand?
Jordan: I wouldn’t write a whole story and then break it up to serialize it, since for me personally, that would feel contrived. If I had a whole novel complete, I’d sell it as a whole novel, not dole it out for free in small bits, which isn’t profitable. There is definitely planning involved in the writing, but only in that I generally know the whole backstory and the ending. I left some flexibility in the middle of Turbulence so I could run it as long as it readers were enjoying it.
Becky: You create your own covers and each Turbulence instalment and the full book has its own cover (and they are particularly gorgeous in my opinion and look great as a set.) Was it difficult to come up with nine different covers? Or did you like being able to use more ideas rather than having to pick just one to represent the book?
Jordan: Thank you so much! It was a bit difficult to come up with nine covers in that I couldn’t find enough good shots of the Paul model to go around, which was part of the reason I gave two covers to Dallas and two to Marlin. Although that creative decision came out of a limitation, I was happy with the result because it made sense artistically. Dallas and Marlin both have scenes told from their points of view as well, so it makes sense for them to appear on covers. I definitely enjoyed having nine covers to create. In movie posters, quite often you’ll find a lot of variations of the main poster, some featuring different key characters or different combinations of the characters. I loved being able to adapt that sensibility in cover art.
Becky: Publishing novels serially was common in the 19th century. Do you see this as being a modern version of that practice?
Jordan: Maybe so, in a roundabout way. My intent with Turbulence was to evoke the feeling of watching a suspenseful TV show like the X-Files or LOST, where you just couldn’t wait for the next week to arrive so you could see what happens next. It’s possible the serialized stories of Twain and Dickens informed the taste of the culture that then embraced serialized radio drama, and then serialized television programs. And now ebooks.
Becky: Was it difficult to get the readers to remember to come back each month for the new instalment? I know I missed one and didn’t catch up until the next month! Would it be useful for writers and the readers of serials if there were ways for readers to subscribe, or pre-order the next one as soon as they finish the current one?
Jordan: I imagine a lot of readers read a few and then wait for the end to play catch-up. Ironically, I personally don’t follow serialized work since I like to inhale content all at once.
Becky: Looking back now it’s finished, is there anything you’d have done differently? Either in the story or in practical terms?
Jordan: I’m thrilled with the way the story came out. The characters are fully fleshed and have a lot of depth. The conflicts in the romantic subplot feel very real-world and solid compared to the more fantastic conflicts generated by the paranormal aspects of the Bermuda Triangle phenomenon. The underlying themes of class, race and faith turned out to be particularly rich. There are a few minor things I could have foreshadowed differently had I written the piece as a novel rather than a serial, however in the grand scheme of things, they’re just details.
Becky: Did you enjoy writing the serial? Do you have any plans for another?
Jordan: After serializing Zero Hour, The Starving Years, Magic Mansion and Turbulence, I’ve taken serialization as far as I need to take it. I’m shifting my focus for the foreseeable future to writing novels. I adored writing Turbulence, though, and I think that if I had not serialized the story, it probably would never have been written at all. For sure, I feel that way about Magic Mansion and The Starving Years, which were written interactively in a Choose Your Own Adventure type of way incorporating the votes of the readers. Turbulence was a technically challenging story. I worked hard to make the real-world parts as solid as possible so that the fantasy elements felt plausible and grounded in reality, so it was intense to write. That meant taking a flying lesson and consulting with pilots, a travel agent and a zookeeper. I think that I function better when I’m challenging myself to try something a bit daunting.
Thanks so much for having me on your blog, Becky, and thanks for all your juicy questions!
The Turbulence Collection
Available now in ebook and paperback.
The foundation of superstition is ignorance. First Officer Paul Cronin has no use for magical thinking—he’s a logical guy, a skeptic who only believes what he can see. When a new assignment on Flight 511 takes him directly through the legendary Bermuda Triangle, he’s not concerned about losing his aircraft to supernatural forces. He’s busy trying to hook up with handsome flight attendant Dallas.
Dallas seems eager to oblige at the airport, but his ardor cools quickly when he finds out he and Paul are now on the same crew. Then the turbulence hits, and Paul soon discovers there’s more to the Bermuda Triangle than made-for-TV movies.
While trying to decipher his cryptic predecessor’s notes and guide Flight 511 around the Triangle phenomenon, Paul attempts to piece together a relationship with Dallas. It seems that forces—both paranormal and mundane—are stacked against them. Can Paul navigate a successful course through the turbulence while he finds a way into Dallas’ heart?