And she was probably right, but I haven't followed her recommendation, even though, in spite of her being the biggest fan of Dexter that I know and therefore perhaps a tiny bit biased, I do trust her opinion.
But, alas, I missed the beginning of the series.
I find it very difficult to motivate myself to start from the beginning of an established series and go through the motions of catching up, which means Dexter is just one of the many casualties of my impoverished TV viewing diet (although in part it's because I prefer reading/writing to watching TV).
I'm guessing I'm not alone in this, and that the same might also be true of any series - TV, films, books - and it's left me in a bit of a quandary that I'm hoping this blog post will address.
For the last 7 years I've been writing the Hiding Behind The Couch series. So far (January 2014) it consists of 5 novels (4 already published) and 5 'short' stories (2 already published, 3 more to come in 2014). It is chronological and the stories do follow on one to the next (see below), so I have to be honest and state in the 'blurbs' that there will be spoilers for those readers who have not read the previous instalments.
However, each book and short story is written (I hope) in a way that allows a new reader to begin from that point (or even just 'dip in'), because Hiding Behind The Couch, for me, is most accurately described as a literary soap opera, in that it is ongoing, but each instalment concludes on the main plot events.
In fact, with the more recent instalments I have deliberately set out to write with new readers in mind, and it's quite a challenge: trying to provide enough back story without making established followers of the series groan, "I already knew that!"
Thus, my advice to new readers:Book One - Hiding Behind The Couch - is the real start of the series, and sets up the main characters - The Circle (see below). If you want to read it all in the correct order, start with this or Beginnings (short story).
However, if you are wanting to drop in later in the series, then Book Three - The Harder They Fall - is a reasonable 'jumping off' point, as it sets up the relationships of the characters for subsequent instalments.
This will, of course, mean you miss out on key events leading up to what happens in Book Three, and I've put together brief synopses of the first two books to aid with the catch-up process. These detail the key events of the plot and wouldn't completely ruin the reading experience, so you could always come back to them later.
The synopses of Books One and Two AND free ebook downloads of both books are available from debbiemcgowan.co.uk
The CircleHiding Behind The Couch centres on the lives of nine friends who met each other at school and are in their mid-thirties at the start of book one. They are realistic characters facing realistic situations - complicated, imperfect and battling their own demons. Sometimes they are triumphant, sometimes they are not - like real life. I take it as a huge compliment that reviews so far almost always comment on the richness of the characterisation and how readers comes to view The Circle as their friends (awesome!).
In brief, The Circle are:
- Josh Sandison - therapist, intelligent, private
- Eleanor Davenport - medical doctor who lost her nerve, conventional, independent
- George Morley - farm worker / reluctant ranch owner, tough, emotionally deep
- Dan Jeffries - businessman, alpha male, competitive
- Andy Jeffries - works to live, adventurous, competitive
- Adele Reeves - designer, may be less shallow than she seems, loving
- Shaunna Johansson - mother, gregarious, strong
- Kris Johansson - actor, flamboyant (on the surface), loyal
- Jess Lambert - lawyer, flirtatious, confident
Fuller character profiles can be found on hidingbehindthecouch.com.
The SeriesBeginnings (short story, 17K) - Journey back to childhood, where the buds of friendship blossom; take a peek into the lives of the primary school children who would become...The Circle.
Hiding Behind The Couch (book one, 112K) - Krissi wants to know who her father is, Josh is going crazy with insomnia, Dan's dangerously out of control...Welcome to The Circle!
No Time Like The Present (book two, 96K) - The build-up to Christmas has begun and a man is dead! It's the perfect time to make new friends, make amends...and solve a murder case!
The Harder They Fall (book three, 146K) - A fatal plane crash in Kathmandu, a fateful high school reunion, the wedding of the year and a honeymoon that eight best friends will never forget...
First Christmas (short story, 21K) - This Christmas, join the characters from Hiding Behind The Couch for a story full of festive magic and romance.
In The Stars Part I: Capricorn-Gemini (book four, 173K) - Fate, karma, written in the stars, or just bizarre quirks of coincidence? For better or worse, the events of the next six months will push the friends to the limits. For The Circle can expand and contract, but it is always whole; eternal.
Breaking Waves (short story - June 2014, 20K) - A short summertime romance with sun, seaside, strawberries and much soul-searching for two people very much in love, but carrying more baggage than a UPS 747.
In The Stars Part II: Cancer-Sagittarius (book five - June 2014, 210K) - The Circle is in flux. It's been a hectic six months and as the friends head into the heat of summer, more trials await that will test the bonds of friendship. And just who did kill Alistair Campion? Could the answer be in the stars?
A Midnight Clear (short story - December 2014, 26K) - It's a cold, desperate December when a young girl flees home, in search of food, shelter and the real Santa Claus. Stranded in George and Josh's hometown, she discovers that the spirit of Christmas can be found in the most unexpected of places. (Suitable for younger readers and adults, aged 12+)
Red Hot Christmas (short story - December 2014, 28K) - After a year in the public eye, Kris takes stock of his personal life and the impact of his decisions on the people he loves. It's an emotional time for all concerned, but there's still much to celebrate, plus an added dash of hot festive humour to ease in the season. (Adult Themes)
- Listed in chronological order of the story.
- Word counts are rounded up/down to the nearest thousand.
- In The Stars (books four and five) is also released as 12 separate episodes, because some readers prefer shorter stories and they're long novels!
- All instalments are available in a multitude of ebook formats (including Kindle, Nook, Kobo and iPad) from Amazon (US, UK), Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, iBook store, Google Play, Beaten Track and many other places!
- Novels are available in paperback format from all major online stores and Beaten Track.
Thanks for reading this post and hopefully giving Hiding Behind The Couch a go.