Whatever Happened to . . . (and a giveaway)

Kaitlyn Dunnett/Kathy Lynn Emerson here. I’m not sure what got me started on this topic, but I’ve been thinking lately about the various protagonists I’ve created over the years and speculating about what might have happened to them after their respective series came to an end.

I can remember quite clearly my reaction to learning that St. Martin’s Press had decided, after seven books, not to continue publishing my Face Down series featuring Susanna, Lady Appleton, sixteenth-century gentlewoman, expert on poisonous herbs, and amateur sleuth. I had a lot more I wanted to do with that character and was determined not to abandon her. I ended up writing three more Face Down novels and numerous short stories featuring Susanna and her friends and she also appears in the second book of my spin-off Mistress Jaffrey Mysteries. What happened to her after 1586 (“Lady Appleton and the Yuletide Hogglers,” included in Volume Three of The Face Down Collection). As I imagine it, she’s living comfortably at Leigh Abbey, her home in Kent, devoting herself to local concerns and taking care of her long-time companion, Jennet, who has a dicey heart. She’s been reconciled with her adopted daughter, Rosamond, and there’s a prospect of grandchildren in her future by way of Rosamond and her no-longer-estranged husband, Rob, Jennet’s son.

Will I ever write more Lady Appleton stories? Probably not. I’ve already done prequels (included in Volume One of The Face Down Collection), and frankly, by sixteenth-century standards, now in her mid-fifties, she’s getting a little long in the tooth to gad about solving crimes. Mid-fifties in those days would be equivalent to mid-eighties today. As for Rosamond and Rob, the third of their adventures (Murder in a Cornish Alehouse) left them happily returning home to London and responsible for Rosamond’s young half brother’s well-being. I didn’t actually say so, but in my mind, Rosamond was already pregnant. Raising a family should keep her too busy to meddle in more murders.

How do I know Rosamond had children? Because my other historical mystery series, the Diana Spaulding 1888 Quartet (soon to be released in an omnibus e-book edition), mentions that she’s descended from a famous sixteenth-century herbalist. Given the passage of several centuries, her knowledge of her own ancestry isn’t precisely accurate. Since Susanna had no children of her own, it’s her adopted daughter, Rosamond, from whom Diana is descended. Rosamond and Rob’s first child, Andrew, is Diana’s ancestor.


Similarly, the protagonists of my two contemporary mystery series have lives that continue after the final book. In the thirteenth Liss MacCrimmon Mystery, A View to a Kilt, Liss is left contemplating two possibilities for her future. One is a career as a professional investigator. The other is a partnership of some unspecified nature with her mother, with whom she has gradually developed a working relationship after years of antagonism. Either way, I don’t see children in her future, but I do see her continuing to live in Moosetookalook, Maine with her husband, family, and friends, and staying involved in community activities. She and her mother will continue to work at understanding and accepting each other. They may even succeed.

I had made a few notes for a fourteenth book, dealing with nefarious doings surrounding the construction of senior citizens’ housing on the site of the mansion that figured in two previous entries in the series (particularly in the Halloween book, Vampires, Bones, and Treacle Scones), but it didn’t have much in the way of an original plot. After seventy books, most of them novels, I ran a very real risk of repeating myself. Lacking enough of an idea to inspire 75,000+ words in a series my publisher no longer wanted. I realized Liss was in a good place in her life at the end of book thirteen and decided to leave her there.

As for Mikki Lincoln, you might think that since she’s in her seventies, she doesn’t have that much of a future left. I beg to differ. Although she and her friend Darlene have certain physical limitations due to their age, they still have their wits about them and, unlike Susanna Appleton, have the benefits of modern medicine to help them deal with the downside of getting older.

One of the things negative reviews have noted is Mikki’s tendency toward indulging in nostalgia, particularly when she shares memories from her teen years, That was when she last lived in the village of Lenape Hollow, New York. Looking back was deliberate on my part, since she reconnects with both an old friend and an old enemy (the classic “mean girl” from high school) and those relationships were slated to grow and change in the course of the series. Did I have plans for another book after number four? Not really. I pretty much did all I wanted to do with those characters. I envision them continuing to live and work together for at least another decade, enjoying both their present-day activities and the occasional fond recollection of years gone by. I can personally vouch for the fact that when one passes the age of seventy, memories from fifty-plus years earlier are often more vivid than those of the recent past.

So there you are, the “where are they now?” for my sleuths. I’d love to hear what readers think of those fictional futures. And, if you leave a comment, you’ll be entered to win a print copy of The Valentine Veilleux Mysteries, the one bit of “new” writing I’ve done since completing Murder, She Edited (written pre-covid and published in 2021). A drawing for the winner will take place on May 10.


Kathy Lynn Emerson/Kaitlyn Dunnett has had sixty-four books traditionally published and has self published others, including several children’s books. She won the Agatha Award and was an Anthony and Macavity finalist for best mystery nonfiction of 2008 for How to Write Killer Historical Mysteries and was an Agatha Award finalist in 2015 in the best mystery short story category. She was the Malice Domestic Guest of Honor in 2014. Her most recent publications are The Valentine Veilleux Mysteries (a collection of three short stories and a novella, written as Kaitlyn) and I Kill People for a Living: A Collection of Essays by a Writer of Cozy Mysteries (written as Kathy). She maintains websites at www.KaitlynDunnett.com and www.KathyLynnEmerson.com. A third, at A Who’s Who of Tudor Women, is the gateway to over 2300 mini-biographies of sixteenth-century Englishwomen.


This entry was posted in Kaitlyn's Posts and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

31 Responses to Whatever Happened to . . . (and a giveaway)

  1. Kate Flora says:

    Characters definitely linger. Years ago, I wrote a suspense novel called Steal Away (as Katharine Clark) and still want to go back someday to write the sequel.

  2. Characters can linger for many, many years. That’s why there are some series that have over 50 books and still going strong. People just can’t get enough. Thank you so much for this chance. pgenest57 at aol dot com

    • kaitlynkathy says:

      You’re welcome. An email will go to the winner and the name will be published in the May 11 Win a Book Wednesday post.

  3. Pingback: Whatever Happened to . . . (and a giveaway) – Maine Reportings

  4. John Clark says:

    I often imagine a whole planet/other dimension where protagonists from series that ended hang out. Imagine Catniss Everdean swinging through the jungle with Tarzan while the Hardy Boys borrow Travis McGee’s Miss Agnes to haul their newly acquired surfboards to catch a wave.

    • Julianne Spreng says:

      John, I love your idea. The Hardy Boys and Travis McGee…what a trip!!

    • kaitlynkathy says:

      As a pre-teen, I used to write stories that mashed up my favorite TV characters–Roy Rogers got along just fine with Rocky Jones, Space Ranger.

  5. Alice says:

    As a reader, I get caught up in your characters’ lives as I go through the series. Just like any of my friends, I hate to see then leave our sphere – – by ending the series or by moving away or by dying.

    • kaitlynkathy says:

      Definitely don’t like to have characters die! At least when a series ends before that, readers can imagine them living on forever.

  6. Julianne Spreng says:

    Don’t know if my reply to John posted, but I love the idea of the Hardy Boys and Travis McGee. What a trip!! I’d love to get copies of all the medieval stories you’ve written but don’t care for ebooks. I want to hold the paper in my hands. Ebooks have disappeared off my reader, too. Your posts are always so interesting. Thanks for the forward thoughts. I often wonder what happens to the ended series. Especially those that end unexpectedly like Kinsey Milhone…sigh.

    • kaitlynkathy says:

      Just FYI for readers in general: I have print copies of most of my books, including the Face Down series, and am happy to sell them for a nominal price plus shipping.

      • Julianne Spreng says:

        So glad to know this. May 4th is my birthday. I can’t think of anything better than a new batch of hardbacks from an author I enjoy. I will be emailing you. Thank you…huge smile!!

  7. Molly Weston says:

    I always enjoy meeting again with protagonists (and their authors!) I met years ago! A new book in any series doesn’t have to be sequential in time–why not just a side trip on which the reader didn’t join him/her?

    • kaitlynkathy says:

      Sadly, I don’t have either the energy or the inclination anymore to write new adventures for any of my characters. Maybe that will change, but I’m not counting on it. On the other hand, I’m having fun revisiting past adventures as I edit new editions of out of print titles.

  8. Brenda Buchanan says:

    I’m happy to know what your characters are doing once you stopped chronicling their lives. Sorry there aren’t likely to be more Mikki Lincoln books – I get a kick out of her.

    Best line in this post hands-down: “frankly, by sixteenth-century standards, now in her mid-fifties, [Lady Appleton’s] getting a little long in the tooth to gad about solving crimes.”

    But in my imagination, she’s still got plenty of energy for sleuthing!

    • kaitlynkathy says:

      Thanks, Brenda. I can see Susanna tuirning into an armchair detective as she ages. After all, Nero Wolfe and Hercule Poirot weren’t physically active when they solved cases.

  9. Jane Nelson says:

    Kathy, while I am glad all of your characters will have good lives after the ends of their various series, I will miss reading more about them, especially the Elizabethan stories. But, of course, I can always go back and visit them periodically. Good luck with whatever is in your future.

  10. Pingback: Win A Book Wednesday: May 4, 2022 | Maine Crime Writers

  11. Kay Garrett says:

    Loved reading this article! It’s fun to see where old friends might have ended up and to see if ones opinions jive with the authors. 🙂

    As a senior myself, I don’t think age should count one out as a sleuth. Although we might not be as agile as we were when younger, There are advantages to moving slower and taking the time to observe details more.

    LOVE your books and can’t wait for the opportunity to read and review “The Valentine Veilleux Mysteries” which sounds absolutely marvelous. Both hubby and I are photography nuts most time seen with a camera close by if not in hand. Which means that a story with a photographer as the amateur sleuth an automatic draw. Since most of our photo taking is of critters, her being a photographer of pets just adds to the desire. Thank you for the chance to win a copy! Shared and hoping.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

    • kaitlynkathy says:

      Thanks, Kay. I agree with you about older sleuths, but I can also feel, at 74, the toll arthritis and other non-life-threatening but still exhausting to deal with ailments can do to curtail someone’s ability to function, let alone detect intelligently! All my protagonists are in better shape than I am!

  12. violet2233 says:

    I think authors are the best people to decide what their characters should do since they’re the ones who created those worlds. I once read that an author stopped writing books in a series because she wanted the couple to always stay young and in love. I thought that was lovely. So even though I miss them, I am happy for them.

    • kaitlynkathy says:

      Thanks for your comment. I wish more readers felt that way. A friend of mine got hate mail because she ended a series by having the protagonist marry someone some of her fans felt was the wrong choice.

  13. itslorrieswp says:

    I honestly have never imagined what my favorite characters might be doing when a series ends. I usually just miss them like I miss many of your characters. It is nice to think that they go on without me. Thanks for the opportunity to win “The Valentine Veilleux Mysteries”. Happy Spring!

  14. Julie Hunter says:

    Thanks for telling us these “after stories.” I’ve been a fan since the first Face Down book, and I was thoroughly delighted when I stumbled across the three books featuring Rosamond about a year ago. Somehow I had missed them earlier, so getting to revisit that world with your characters was a very happy surprise.

  15. Carol Alden says:

    I like your books and I would love to win one!

  16. Pingback: Weekend Update: May 7-8, 2022 | Maine Crime Writers

Leave a Reply