When writing a series, does the author have an obligation to the reader to keep some amount of consistency? And if they deviate, do they risk alienating the reader? Can we morph the story from one genre to another and keep the reader? Can young adult and move into adult or erotica? Will your following stay?

I started reading a sci-fi series and book one was pretty good with a lot of science and a little romance. Book two had a little more romance, but still kept the science fiction going, with book three, more romance. But as I read through book three, the romance starts to get a little more heated. By book four, we are this side of erotica with me thinking, just cross the line. I’ve also noted that in each, the story line is basically the same… two warring factions/families/colonies/etc. where two individuals from opposites, fall in love, or lust by  book four, and fear telling their families for fear of war. I hate to say this, I’m done. The author has gone from a strong sci-fi base of the series to, for a lack of something else to call it, life, losing more sci-fi in every book. If someone was to pick up book four without reading the other books, they definitely wouldn’t think this is a great sci-fi series. At this point, I may not even finish book four. With fourteen books in the series, I can only imagine where we finally end. These books are well written, I don’t want to give anyone the impression that they are not and the science is engaging; however, I am looking for sci-fi not what I fear in the end will be erotica. I’m sure the author has a following and I know more than a few people who will continue to read and enjoy the series, I’m just not one of them.

As an author I understand exploring other genres, trying my hand at something different to see if I can do it, if I can make it work. As a reader, I don’t appreciate the author doing this within a series. Not to say an author must stay locked in a genre, only that, in my humble opinion, they need to within a series. I have a series that consist of eight books, and a short story, young adult fantasy. After reading this I had to consider, did I do the same thing? Authors grow, story lines and characters grow or no one will want to read it. How does my writing measure up? Have I skewed from my  initial intent. Let’s explore

Izzabella is my series tittle; it follows the trials and tribulations of a young elf as she tries to save her world and grows into an adult. In book one, she has to rescue the elfin heir in hopes of bringing peace to their war torn homeland. Simple enough, but it’s never that simple, she was orphaned several years before we meet her, coming to live with a friend, and although it is clear she needs help, fears reaching out only to find no one there. The story line is not that simple, but for our purposes it will work. In book two, she must travel to her homeland before her dragon egg hatches. Once it hatches, willing or not, she must give up more of her loner attitude and learn to depend on the dragon as he depends on her. In book three, she and the elfin heir travel to a distant land to reunite their exiled kin, but again our heroin must learn to be more honest, she must learn to open her heart. By books end, she is given a painful lesson in what happens when you do not reach out to your friends for support.

Number four is set in a different time and place; our heroin has been turned into a vampire and finds herself centuries in the future. After locating the reincarnate of the elfin heir, she needs to convince him she’s not crazy and magic, wizardry, vampires, and elves exist. She faces two truths, her past has followed her and her closest friend betrayed her. After being returned to her nature at the end of book four, book five finds our heroin trying to readjust and defending the town against their life-long enemies, while learning she is not in this alone.

Book six shifts point of view from third person omniscient to first person; however, it also shifts whose POV. Divided into three parts we shift POV’s three times, but the intent remains the same, our heroin’s past mistakes have come full circle, friends she thought long dead, live, and fights she thought over must be played out again. We’re back in her home world and fighting other mythical creatures and learning what lengths she was willing to go to, in order to ensure the continuation of her race. With book seven our heroin awakes without a memory, in an unfamiliar place and people she doesn’t know.

The short story is another venture into first person POV and again I do it in parts. It isn’t about our heroin, but several of the minor characters. Book eight would be considered a spin off if this were television, although the premise is the same and some of the same characters are there, we have a new heroin.

Even as our heroin grows and ages, the genre remains the same, young adult fantasy. Yes some books have more fantasy than others and some are done in first person versus third person omniscient, but I’ve stayed in one genre. Does it work? I would have to query my beta readers for that answer, as none have complained, I’ll say it does.

As for the sci-fi series and this reader, I won’t continue which is a shame as the author knows her science. But as there is more than one story to be told, there is more than one way to tell it and this brings me back to my initial question. Does the author have an obligation to the reader to keep to one genre? How far can we deviate before we lose valued readers? How do you feel about it?
Here’s what Jane Lebak had to say about it Link