A while ago—maybe a month ago now?—my friend, Molly Matheson asked me what the chronological order for the Read by Candlelight books were, so I drew her a series diagram. I then forgot to send it to her. I was flipping through my plotting notebook, and I just found it. Here it is!
There is a definite last book in this series, just as The Secretary and the Ghost is the first book. I’ve written the first chapter of The Somnabulist, but then I stopped—I realised I wanted it to be last in order of publishing as well as in chronological order.
You can see how the stories sort of lead to other stories. This is not always planned. What usually happens is that over the course of the story a character shows up (sometimes a character who wasn’t even in the plot to start with), and demands further exploration (Patrick) or a story of their own (Rosemary).
Most of the stories form a distinct timeline, but then there are sideways off shoots as well. This reflects the organic nature of this series. I wrote The Secretary and the Ghost as a break from a very well planned series with a definite series arc that I was working on, and allowed myself a lot of freedom. This has led to organic world growth that allows the characters room to grow and breathe, but also lets me experiment and do things that I might not have tried otherwise. An epistolary novel, for example.
This diagram is by no means comprehensive. This series will no doubt continue to grow and intertwine in new ways—three possible stories surfaced since I drew this. I also suspect that the Christmas Party is going to show up after The Collector rather than before it. We’ll find out when we get there!
For readers who like to read series in order, I’m sure this is very frustrating, but one of the big advantages of being able to jump forward and backwards across the timeline is that it keeps things interesting for me. Instead of having to complete stories in order, I can work on the story that most speaks to me at the time. This is a really good thing because I am not looking forward to writing the banshee story, and if I had to do that before I could continue with the series, well, Read By Candlelight might have ended with The Worst Behaved Werewolf.
It also means that I can examine the impacts and influences of certain events over time, and view things from different angles. I’m always fascinated how the same event can appear totally different through the lens of different people’s perceptions, and how different facets of people’s personalities show themselves in different situations, or with different people. Adding time to this exploration, just adds another level of interest. As a writer, this series has been incredibly liberating—even if it means that at times (a lot of the time, really) I have no idea what’s coming next.