It feels like something of a milestone, seeing A Devil Under the Skin, my third detective thriller, hit the bookstore shelves. I’d already written two books featuring Polish fixer, Janusz Kiszka and police detective, Natalie Kershaw, and yet somehow it took three for it to feel indubitably a series.

Series present pros and cons to the author, which boil down, more or less, to a tug of war between ‘keep it fresh’ and ‘don’t ruin the magic’. Clearly, it’s a massive plus to be able to pull characters off the shelf fully formed without undergoing the enormous work of creating them from scratch. The challenge becomes how to show them progressing, changing as they confront new situations and setbacks, while staying firmly within the boundaries of what’s believable given their personalities and histories. And of course, every new book is a giant intellectual obstacle course, since I favour twisty-turny plots with more red herrings than Billingsgate.

The response of readers has been wonderful – a hugely encouraging reminder of why I write – and while the feedback is heartening it also comes with a realisation of just how proprietorial readers can feel about returning characters. With every book I publish, comments along the lines of ‘You must – or mustn’t – let Janusz get together with Natalie’ and ‘You’d better not kill off Oskar!’ become more frequent. On the one hand, it’s a compliment, on the other, just a tad nerve-racking – especially for a long time fan of Mr S King’s Misery…

A Devil Under the Skin is published by The Friday Project and available at all good bookshops and online outlets.

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