Revisting old themes

After I sold my first book, my editor left my publishers and I got a new editor.  She didn’t get to choose me based on whether she liked my work or not; I was just dumped on her.  In all our communications, she always stated she “loved” my writing, yet she never bought a book from me.  (Is she still “my editor” if she never bought anything? Inquiring minds want to know!)  In our discussions, she kept encouraging me to “revisit old themes” and to this day, I really don’t know what she means.

My first book, BABY BONUS, was basically what they call a “mystery baby” book, the kind I like to read.  So did she mean I should write another mystery baby?  No, she rejected the idea when I approached her.  Was she looking for another tongue-in-cheek like BB?  Or another quirky hero?  I could never get her to be specific and eventually, my publisher and I parted company.  Not exactly what I wanted.  Meanwhile, I sold my next two books (which I’d written for the first publisher) elsewhere and struggled with writing my fourth book because I wasn’t sure if what I was doing was saleable. 

But her comment kept re-playing in my head.  What was revisiting old themes?  Is it writing a series of books with basically the same kind of characters such as Sherrilyn Kenyon’s wonderful Dark-Hunter series?  Or stories set in the same place like Marilyn Pappano’s Bethlehem series?  Maybe it’s writing different stories, but all time-travel or bad boy heroes or heroine suffering the disease of the week.  I know when I read certain authors like Jayne Ann Krentz, I don’t care if it’s her contemporaries, historicals, or paranormal.  I love all her books for the way her hero/heroine interact with each other.  Is that her “theme”?  Or is that her voice? 

What do you think?

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5 thoughts on “Revisting old themes

  1. I read books for the author’s voice & emotion, so I’m not sure about ‘theme’. I don’t want just a name & location change or cardboard characters. Make me laugh, make me cry, make me root for the H/H & hiss for the villain, & I’ll be hooked forever.

  2. I read them for the voice. If I can feel what the writer is trying to convey…I’m there! Sherrilyn is a good example. She also writes as Kinley MacGregor and I love those as well and they are NOTHING like the Dark-Hunters. But her voice is there and I feel what the characters are feeling.
    ~Ashlynn

  3. Jackie,

    I think she should have been more specific. Her comment about revisiting old themes would have thoroughly confused me.

    Claude Mary

  4. I hate it when editors (or agents) aren’t specific. I sent two partials to an editor once and she said one had the “scope” to be a single-title while the other didn’t. I didn’t have a clue what she meant, and she couldn’t really explain it beyond “feel.”

    However, years later, I read a big, single-title romantic suspense, and I understood immediately what she’d meant. It just didn’t have the “feel” of a big, single-title book.

    Maybe theme and scope, and some of that other stuff, is like porn: “I can’t tell you what it is, but I know it when I see it.”

  5. Meg and Ash–I’m with you. I read for voice and that’s what I’m trying to develop my own voice so that when anyone reads a book by me, even under a psuedonym, they’ll know it’s mine!
    CM–confused me also. Must be why I never sold to that editor.
    Marilyn–wish I’d had your words of wisdom before the publisher dumped me. Wouldn’t have stopped them, but I would have felt better about it. 🙂

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