Kelly Meding entered the realm of Urban Fantasy with her fist book Three Days to Dead. With the sequel, As Lie the Dead, coming out this July and several more stories in the works, I decided to ask Kelly what’s it’s like creating and managing a series.

Diaz: Why do a series instead of a single book?

Meding: As a reader, I love series, because when I find a group of characters I enjoy spending time with I want to keep reading about them. It isn’t dissimilar to a long-running television show—same people, new story every week. Urban fantasy really works well for writing a series, because often the world the characters inhabit is just as much of a character as the actual characters. It’s a world that I want to keep exploring.

When I wrote THREE DAYS TO DEAD, I knew it was going to be part of a series. The world of Dreg City has so many layers, so much backstory, that I knew I couldn’t explore it in just one book. A series lets me play in this awesome sandbox, expand the lives of minor characters, and build an over-arcing story that I hope readers enjoy following.

Diaz: How did you sell your publisher on the idea of a series?

Meding: Fortunately, urban fantasy is kind of tailor-made for a series. There are very few UF debuts that aren’t part of a series or trilogy—which I know is frustrating for readers who prefer standalone novels, but it’s great for me. And because it’s a series, it’s easier to sell multiple books at once.

Diaz: How are you managing keeping track of subplots and details as each storyline progresses?

Meding: Several years ago, I read an awesome post over at the Fangs, Fur & Fey livejournal community, written by Yasmine Galenorn. She described her Series Bible, which is how she keeps track of her series, and the idea of it really stuck with me. For Dreg City, I have a 3-ring binder, and in it are divided sections, loose leaf paper, folders, and plastic sleeves. I have sections for Hunters & Handlers, Other Humans, Weres, Vampires, Other Critters, etc….

I try to keep notes as I go. If I add a minor character, I put their name into the notebook so it’s there if I need to reference them again later. If I make a backstory observation on someone, I write it down. Sometimes I forget to do this and I have to go back through a document to find something, which is a pain in the butt. Now that I’m writing Book 4, having this Series Bible around is especially important because the world is expanding all over the place.

Diaz: Is the personality or tone of the world you’ve created changing in ways you didn’t expect?

Meding: It continues to get darker with each book, which I didn’t expect (this might sound funny to people who know me and know I tend to write dark). But I suppose there’s truth to the saying “it’s always darkest before dawn,” and it applies here. Evangeline Stone and Company are heading for…something. And it’s just going to get worse before it gets better. If it gets better (ha!). But I’m glad that things still surprise me, because it keeps the world exciting and fun to play in.

Diaz: How far ahead are you plotting–two, three, twenty books down the line?

Meding: I have a general idea of where the series is going to go, but I’m not really a plotter. I know where two of the larger plots are heading and how they’ll change the landscape of the series as a whole, but I don’t have the book-specific events laid out yet. Once I finish writing Book 4 and have a better idea of how this one ends, I’ll have a better grasp of the next book.

Diaz: What are your plans in the future (e.g another series, a stand alone, life as a carny)?

Meding: Life as a carny sounds like fun, if this writing thing doesn’t pan out. *grin* I’d like to see the Dreg City series continue for a few more books, which is completely in the hands of other people (like my loyal readers). I also have a new series coming out next year with Pocket Books, which I will be talking more about in the near future. And there are half a dozen other projects crowding my brain, so we’ll see what develops.

Diaz: What are your favorite series by other authors?

Meding: The Night Huntress series by Jeaniene Frost; Lords of the Underworld and Alien Huntress by Gena Showalter; the Shifters series by Rachel Vincent; the Mercy Thompson books by Patricia Briggs; Hell on Earth series by Jackie Kessler; ACRO by Sydney Croft; the Kate Daniels/Magic books by Ilona Andrews…I could go on and on, but these always stick out.

Diaz: What do you like about those series?

Meding: The characters. Some of them are urban fantasy, and some are paranormal romance. In some the same character narrates all the books, and in some the lead characters change with each volume. But it’s the characters, nonetheless, who draw me back each and every time. I want to experience their adventures, and I want to be by their sides as they live and love.

After the characters is the world building. All of those series I listed above are unique, creative, and just fantastic examples of world building. Each book tells me something new, and each book expands what’s already known.

Diaz:  Anything I missed, but you think may be important to a writer contemplating writing a series?

Meding: Know your world. There’s nothing worse than wanting to do something in the third book, only to realize you’ve established in book one that you can’t do this/something else is true. So be careful about the rules you create—make sure they’re rules you can stick to for the duration.