First off, Happy Thanksgiving to all! It is a bit bittersweet for me, as I find myself oddly at a loss with the publication of Don’t Tell, the final book in The Cooper Quartet. I suspect all authors suffer the same symptoms when a series ends.
- I miss the Coopers, Laury, Byron, and their cousin Robin.
- I keep wondering if I should write the one book I didn’t and fill in a big relationship blank. The book would take place in 1970 between the first and second books. If I did, The Quartet would become a Quintet. Then what?
- Am I the only one who cares that these fighters are now on their own without me guiding them through further adventures?
- Did I do what I set out to do: get one military family through the tumult of the Vietnam War while exorcising my own ghosts of the same period?
- Did I manage to show the dichotomy of military women’s lives at that specific time in history when women’s roles were changing so rapidly?
- Now what?
I suspect that some series go on and on because the author just can’t say goodbye to the main character, and as long as fans can’t either, that’s a good thing. I admit to an adoration for the MacDonald’s, Ross and John, whose detectives mirrored the society in which they existed and who grew and changed over the books. Travis McGee, in particular, begins like Mike Hammer with all women objects and ends understanding a world where women are not only not objects but are equals. Still, too often, series drag on, the protagonists don’t grow, readers learn nothing new … blah, blah, blah. I stop reading those after about the third book.
I didn’t want to be one of those authors who just yamity, yamity, yams unable to say goodbye to their own creation. So, I planned The Cooper Quartet as a trilogy. It became a quartet when Don’t Tell demanded I write it as the finale to the series. The procedural plot of Don’t Tell happened to me, as I note in my acknowledgment, except no one died. However, it was the reason I left the Navy. So, Robin became my vehicle to tell the world what happens to good people caught in a rigid system, even as the world rotates in their favor.
I’m happy to leave the Coopers, truly. Mostly. Am I in mourning? Yes, a bit. Okay, more than a bit. I have strong feelings for Laury Cooper, Chloe Minotier, her brother Pierre, and Dan Cisco. And, of course, my alter ego, LT Robin Haas. But I set out to write a family saga told via four military thrillers with the climax of the arc the third book and the denouement the fourth.
The first book in The Cooper Quartet, Dead Legend, takes place in 1967-68 during the hardest fought period of the Vietnam War and looks at what grifts war can hide. The second, Head First, occurs during the Christmas carpet bombing of 1972 and touches on the plight of Amerasian children. Pay Back deals with the Fall of Saigon and the corruption of the war, and Don’t Tell covers the fallout of all three prior books and the societal changes that occurred while our protagonists battled through the era. And, yes, I suppose, if there was a clambering to know why Chloe Minotier has such a soft spot for Laury Cooper, I’d write number five.
The books in The Cooper Quartet (Dead Legend, Head First, Pay Back and Don’t Tell) are available on Amazon in all formats.
Postscript: For those who have asked me about my use of the red and yellow stripes that tie the four covers together. Here is the answer. The flag of South Vietnam has three horizontal red stripes on yellow like the horizontal stripes on the books in The Quartet, and the Vietnam Service ribbon has three vertical red stripes on yellow (green at each end). But do you know what I’ve learned? Other than Vietnam Era veterans, absolutely no one remembers the ribbon or the South Vietnam flag. And though I am aware that the U.S. wanted nothing so much as to leave the distaste of Vietnam behind, it is still stunning how completely it was accomplished. (Thus ends my rant)
4 thoughts on “Saying Goodbye to a Series”
As usual, Dawn, an insightful and thought-provoking article. I haven’t finished reading the quartet, but the books show your love and commitment to a period of time almost erased from our society. Thank you so much.
It is hard to let go of a series. I ended the Shandra Higheagle series after the character had made growth and I felt she would lose credence with readers if she continued to throw herself into danger. I feel if an author begins to feel the stories aren’t coming or want to end the series on a high note they should end it where they feel it leaves the reader content. Maybe not happy, but content. Great post!
I totally understand. My time during the Vietnam War was as a wife of career Seabee who spent three tours in Vietnam. Was not easy.
It’s hard to let go of a series because the characters become so real to us as writers. For those of us who were alive during the Vietnam Era and watched our classmates get drafted or return from Vietnam, the memories linger. I had forgotten the flag but not those who served, the debates and rage at what some of the politicians did. Your novels will serve a purpose in the future, to bring home what that time was like.
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