When I wrote for traditional publishers, they each wanted their own series. They didn’t want to market a series of books that was connected to a series published by another publisher. So, each time I changed publishing houses, I created a new fictional world.
For example, my Bride Quest series at Dell was set in a 12th century medieval world, with fictional estates at Tullymullagh (Ireland), Llanvelyn (Wales), and Montvieux (France). The characters moved between these locations, which were based on (or inspired by) real places. I have maps in my files of the castle layouts and interiors, as well as their locations.
In the Bride Quest II series, I added Ceinn-beithe (Scotland), Airdfinnan (Scotland), and Crevy-sur-Seine (France) as well as the convent at Inveresbeinn (Scotland). While the Bride Quest I featured three brothers, the Bride Quest II featured a widow and her two daughters.
The obvious progression from this point would have been the Bride Quest III, featuring the sons from the first series and maybe the new daughter from the second series. I actually wrote that proposal, but I moved to Warner and they wanted a new fictional world of their own so it went into the files.
Warner published the Rogues of Ravensmuir. I created Ravensmuir and Kinfairlie for The Rogue, then Inverfyre for The Scoundrel and The Warrior. This world is set in the late 14th and early 15th centuries. Gawain added a house in Sicily to the fictional realm, too. We had three keeps and a southern house by the time the trilogy was done.
Next and still with Warner, I moved down a generation and wrote the Jewels of Kinfairlie series in the same world. While Ravensmuir and Kinfairlie are on the east of Scotland, south of the Firth, there were other realms added beyond that area. We visited Rhys’ holding of Caerwyn (Wales) in The Beauty Bride, Erik’s holding of Blackleith to the north (Scotland) in The Rose Red Bride, the site of Eleanor’s previous marriage, Tivotdale (Scotland) in The Snow White Bride, as well as Rosamunde’s pirate ship.
The True Love Brides continues in this same world and adds other holdings to the world of Kinfarlie and Ravensmuir—these include Seton Hall, which is near the Trossachs in Scotland, where Murdoch was born, the monastery of Kilgarrow (Scotland) where Murdoch’s brother chooses to retire, also in The Renegade’s Heart, and Killairig (Scotland), the stolen legacy of Garrett in The Highlander’s Curse, as well as Rafael’s unnamed possessions in Spain at the end of The Warrior’s Prize.
The Brides of Inverfyre series will be set more in the Highlands and Islands, so there will be additions to the world in that area. Inverfyre has kind of a spooky history, which I’m looking forward to revisiting.
For the Champions of St. Euphemia, I stepped away from the world of Kinfairlie, Ravensmuir and Inverfyre to create another 12th-century fictional universe. The holdings in this world are Châmont-sur-Maine (France), Valeroy (France) both in The Crusader’s Bride, Altesburg (Germany) in The Crusader’s Heart, Haynesdale (England) in The Crusader’s Kiss, Killairic (Scotland) in The Crusader’s Vow and Morcreig (Scotland) in The Crusader’s Handfast, as well as the abbey to which Gaston’s mother Eudaline retired in France.
So, I have three medieval worlds which exist independently of each other. I also have the beginning of another world with Something Wicked This Way Comes, which is set in Regency England in 1811 and is the first of the Brides of North Barrows trilogy of Regency romances. Castle Keyvnor in Cornwall is in that world, as is North Barrows and Brisbane’s Emporium in London.
Right now, I’m working on the second novella in the Brides of North Barrows trilogy (which will be included in the anthology Charmed at Christmas, part of the Christmas at Castle Keyvnor collection) and I needed the hero to be from somewhere. I also am in the midst of editing the files for the Bride Quest for republication. That’s when I realized it was time to connect these worlds and make them a single fictional universe. Alexander, the hero of my upcoming Regency romance in the Brides of North Barrows series is from Airdfinnan, the holding regained by Angus in The Beauty. Ha. Things will have changed a bit in seven hundred years, but I like the idea of continuity.
This exercise also raises new questions. Are Killairic and Killairig connected? They have a similar location on the west coast of Scotland and it’s plausible that the name might have changed slightly in several hundred years. If so, how do their stories connect? Does the prize of St. Euphemia remain hidden forever at Morcreig? Or will a character in a later era discover it? How and why? What about those abandoned proposals for the “next obvious books” in any given series? I’m digging them out again. Will my earlier books be the source of legends and stories told in my later books? I remember now that I had originally planned to tell the story of the maiden who disappeared through the window at Kinfairlie into the realm of the Fae. My publisher didn’t like the idea but I still do.
Mr. Math has ordered me some maps to mount on the wall of my office so I can locate the holdings and consider ways to connect them. My imagination is exploding a little bit right now, as there are so many options and possibilities. Family trees are going to get bigger. It also means that I’ll probably need another companion volume and guide to my medieval books. I have a number of map-creation sites bookmarked on my browser and might need to create my own medieval map, as well as share layouts of keeps and towns. Hmm. This means there’s a lot more to add to the calendar, but it’s so much fun!