An introduction to The Oregon Series
By Michael Melville
The other day a close friend who has read both Running Northwest and a not final edited version of All the Roads Home asked me an interesting question. She asked which one was the first book in my new Series. I thought it was an odd question with an obvious answer but after thinking more about it, I thought it was worth explaining since I guess it could be slightly confusing at least for people who have read Running Northwest.
I will say right now that All the Roads Home is the first book in The Oregon Series. I guess you could say that Running Northwest was the inspiration for The Oregon Series however. Writing that novel opened my mind up to all kinds of different characters, storylines, and possibilities on the Oregon Coast and in the state that I love so much. It was during the editing of the final edition of that book where I seriously began developing characters and stories for the Oregon Series.
Imagine you are wandering through Barnes and Noble, an independent bookstore or scrolling through Amazon.com a few years from now. You see Running Northwest and then notice the books in The Oregon Series by Michael Melville as well. You see All the Roads Home, The Diner and three or more (currently yet unwritten or titled) books.
Where do you start? What book do you read first?
It doesn’t matter!
It does not matter because the series does not have a long running plot encompassing several books like you find in many series. My first series doesn’t have a starting or ending point. It is about a semi-fictionalized Oregon and it’s towns and people who I have invented in my mind. The series ends when I decide to stop writing it and NOT when each story is finished. Each book, however, is its own unique story in terms of the series but in some ways, the people in them will continue in other stories.
So how is this going to work
My plan is to write characters with their own unique storylines and lives in the individual books of the series but have them take place in the same region and towns as other characters from other books within the series. I will have certain characters occasionally re-appear in various ways in all the books in the series, which was my driving idea behind this. Some may play a major role while others may only show up in one or two key scenes or even just in passing. Certain geographic locations, circumstances, and such will be used in all the books in this series. Think of it as a form of continuity.
My intent with this is to show the world I am creating and to show the fullest version of my characters’ lives as I possibly can and to give Oregon and the coast the fullest and widest breadth of description as I know how. I’m not calling it The Oregon Series just for fun after all. Ideally, it will be to show the community they live in as a whole and how my characters play roles either big or small in the lives of each other. Think of it almost as a literary form of the Six Degrees of Separation theory. In movies, this has been a thematic style I often enjoy seeing used and one example would be the film He’s Just Not That into You and an even better example would be Love Actually or the TV show Lost.
How many times have we read a book, fell in love with the characters, and wonder what happened after the end if there is no sequel? After I published Running Northwest, I got a few reviews and countless emails and Facebook messages from fans and readers begging for a sequel. They desperately wanted to know what happened with Thomas and his son, Stephanie and the other characters. They wanted to know what happened next because of the way I ended the story. The Oregon Series will give me the ability to do that not just with those characters (if I decide to) but with any of them. I’m doing this so my readers can get a glimpse of what happens to the characters they learned to love (or hate) when they are not the focus of the story anymore OR before they were the focus of a story.
Need an example?
When it comes to stories that I am writing now, will write and have written for the series an example of this “continuity” idea and how it’s used would be a relatively minor character nicknamed, Pockets. He is a rowdy old Irishmen who has a dark and secretive past but also a tender and caring heart. Readers of my first novel Running Northwest will remember him well from several important scenes in that story. He will make an appearance in the first book in the series, All the Roads Home, and assist my lead character, Shawn Stewart, during a family crisis in an edgier part of the story. He will also play a very dramatic role in the life of Shawn’s best friend Billy (which could lead to another series). Pocket’s unique and mysterious nature made him perfect to bring back for parts of this new story.
For all of you who have read Running Northwest you are well aware of certain things…aspects of the characters and circumstances that I left open to interpretation in that story. I did not do that with the intention of a series or a sequel, but it almost seems that way in retrospect. In fact, I was so anti-writing a series for a long time you would not believe it. Perhaps my mind knew more than it was telling me I don’t know. Readers of Running Northwest have been clamoring for a sequel. Although there isn’t one coming I will say that Thomas, the main character from that story will make an appearance in at least the first 2 books of the Oregon Series in some way. I won’t say how though so you will just have to read and find out.
So if everything goes right and lets’s say The Oregon Series is 5 books (Which is the plan for now but there could be more) you could read all of them in any order and still enjoy them but still want to read the rest. There will be no getting behind and no feeling like you missed something. Just a whole lot of “aha moments”. I hope that it will be a great reading experience because so far it’s been a tremendous journey writing them. I’ve already been told this could either make or break my writing career so….let’s just hope for the best.
Look out for the first book in the series, All the Roads Home which comes out in mid-January
Wish me luck