When Allison Rushby contacted me about doing a guest blog as part of my New Adult guest blog series, I was excited. Her website is amazing and her covers are terrific. Plus, what she’s doing sounds different and unusual — she’s writing an e-serial for St. Martin’s Press: three heiresses compete for their inheritance in a Downton Abbey-ish style setting. Sound cool? I thought so and if you do too, read on, because Allison is here today to discuss writing serials, from the perspective of a novelist who’s written 10+ books. Welcome, Allison!

The Heiresses: A Six Episode E-Serial

Episode 1 is available now
Episode 1 is available now

When I talk about my current release, The Heiresses (7 January, 2013, St Martin’s Press), I tend to get peppered with questions from other writers. Why? Well, mostly because as publishing goes, it is a project that is simply so very different.

The Heiresses is being published as a six-part e-serial, then as a complete e-book, then as a paperback, it’s New World publishing, really, embracing both the past and future of the industry.

I sold The Heiresses on proposal to St Martin’s Press and was super-excited to be working with Dan Weiss (hello! Sweet Valley High! The man is publishing royalty!). Not to mention I couldn’t wait to get started on the story for many reasons, including the fact that I’d had the kernel of an idea about these triplets in 1920s London for years and the timing itself was amazing – I was living in Cambridge, UK, for a year or so, with London just down the road for research purposes.

There was only one problem – I knew absolutely nothing about writing in serial form.

As a seasoned novelist, with over ten published books under my belt, I stupidly thought it couldn’t be that hard. Ha ha ha. Wrong. It was hard. Oh, but it was very hard! In fact, it was a whole new style of writing.

Soon enough, I found myself scouring the episode guides of popular series like Lost, The Good Wife, Downton Abbey and Melrose Place to see what made them tick. I was learning all about the necessity of cliffhanger endings, arcs within episodes, multi-episode arcs and season arcs. I was downloading books onto my Kindle about writing serials for TV and reading anything about writing in serial form that I could get my hands on, actually (okay, there were some desperate moments of re-writing those The Heiresses episodes at times!).

And when things got really rough, I got on a fast train and went to Dickens’s house in London (now a museum) to pay homage to the ultimate serial writer himself and to hope (read: pray) there might be something still in the air, or seeping through the walls.

So, would I do it again? There’s no denying, writing The Heiresses was a ride – a 120,000 word, ‘where on earth is this story going?!’, ‘eek, help!’, ‘I really have no idea what I’m doing at this point!’ ride. But, I have to admit that on sitting back after the very final copyedit, the six covers laid out before me, I knew I’d do it again in a heartbeat. The emotion! The ups and downs! The drama! Serial writing really does offer up a whole new world to the novelist – one that I’d highly recommend.

More About Allison

Having failed at becoming a ballerina with pierced ears (her childhood dream), Allison Rushby instead began a writing career as a journalism student at The University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia. Within a few months she had slunk sideways into studying Russian. By the end of her degree she had learned two very important things: that she wasn’t going to be a journalist; and that there are hundreds of types of vodka and they’re all pretty good.  After several years spent whining about how hard it would be to write a novel, she finally tried writing one and found it was quite an enjoyable experience. Since then, she has more than ten novels published. She keeps up her education by sampling new kinds of vodka on a regular basis.

Allison can be found online at her website and on Twitter: @Allison_Rushby.

Where to find The Heiresses:

So, writers and readers, what about you? Do you like the idea of e-serials? If you’re a writer, would you ever try writing one? I have to admit, just from a craft perspective, the allure of trying to learn a different story structure is pretty tempting. If you’re a reader, what do you think of e-serials? A neat idea? And finally, who’s a fan of Downton Abbey? (Who isn’t, right?) Personally, I’d like to see more books set in the 1920’s. Thank you, Allison, for guest blogging today!