Planned Booked Series Timeline...
Question: I have a planned Trilogy where the timeline is not like, for example, Harry Potter (each sequel is approximately a year later). Instead, the second book takes place about twelve years after the first and the third book book takes fifteen years after the second. My question is: Is my timeline appropriate for mainstream novels?
Also, my main character(and overall story protagonist) for all three books starts the first book as a just-barely adolescence (12-13 years old), a young adult in the second book (24-25 years), and a middle-aged man in the third book (39-40 years of age). My main questions are:
(1.)If the first book is a young adult novel, will the second two be adult novels? If so, would that confuse my audience due to the main character going through different inner conflicts in all three books?
(2.)Should I make all three books either an Adult or young novel, so the audience would not be confused?Answer:
First, there's absolutely no reason why you can't have gaps of years between book. An example of a similar series would be Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea series.
Second, I wouldn't worry too much about whether the second and third books should be YA or adult. Your challenge is getting the first one written and sold. That's a hard enough task to worry about for now, and you may find in the writing of the first book that your original idea changes somewhat.
However, since you ask...
If you are lucky, and you find the sales of the first book are strong enough that the publisher
asks for a sequel, you will want to bring your existing readers along with you.
So I definitely would not write the first book as middle-grade fiction, even though a 12-year-old MC is typical of a middle grade book (because kids like to read about characters a little older than themselves).
Whether you write the series as adult or YA depends on the types of topics and issues you want to cover.
YA can cover darker themes than middle-grade (or treat the same themes more darkly) while still omitting the kind of mature content of a book for 20-somethings.
For instance, books like Huckleberry Finn
and Ender's Game
have children as MCs but are aimed at an older audience. Again, the Earthsea
series is another example in that the MC, Ged, starts out as a boy but is an old man in the last book, yet the series would be classified as YA.
It's not that YA readers always have to read about characters their own age. They enjoy reading about adults too, as long as the themes and topics seem relevant to them. But there are certain issues and topics that adult readers are interested in but teens would not be into (middle-age crises, messy divorces of couple with no kids, growing elderly, etc.) and certain topics school boards might not buy for YA readers (graphic sexuality).
If you want to cover issues that teens wouldn't relate to or that the library market wouldn't buy for them, then write the series as adult fiction. There are adult books that have children as MCs (e.g. Riddley Walker