So, a few years back, Amazon came up with what I thought was a genius idea: The Kindle Worlds Program. In case you’re not familiar with the concept, it was a system that enabled (or perhaps encouraged is a better word) authors to play in other authors’ worlds. It was not unlike officially-sanctioned fanfiction. And if you were an author who happened to have friends who also were authors, and whose books you’d brainstormed, or critiqued, or beta-read before they were even published, it was a whole lot of fun.
This was the case for me. In Going Back To Find You, I got to take characters from one of my existing series (Children of Night) and write a story for them that was set in a book-world I hadn’t written, but whose birth I’d attended, if you will, one that I’d loved from inception. It was a win-win-win scenario.
But what Amazon giveth, it also taketh away. Shortly after my second Kindle World book was released, we got word that the program was ending, the rights to our books were being returned to us, and all the books were coming down. In short, we were being kicked out of Eden.
In some cases, the original authors gave us permission to re-release our books as-is, but of course we couldn’t write any new books. This worked out fine for my first Kindle World book. The characters I’d written about were only visiting Sapphire Falls anyway. At the end, they went back to their originally scheduled series. But, as I was writing my second Kindle World book—a hometown wedding story featuring characters from a different series (LA Love Lessons)—I discovered several new characters who desperately wanted their stories told — and whose stories I desperately wanted to tell. These were friends and relatives of my hero and/or heroine, but they didn't exist in the LA Love Lessons world at all. They were deeply entrenched in a world not-of-my-making, and to which I'd just had my visa revoked.
What to do?
I thought about the problem a lot. I could forget about the new stories, but by then I had an outline, title, and cover for one book, and titles, characters and general ideas for two more. Eventually, I realized I had no choice but to re-write Going To The Chapel and set it someplace else.
Sounds easy, right? Well…not so much.
These were fairly short novellas. Using them to introduce a whole new world was going to throw everything off. They'd been written as bridges between two already established worlds. If I had to start from scratch, the amount of world-building I’d have to do was not just daunting, it was depressing. Going To The Chapel had been meant to be, at least in part, a love letter to a quirky, small town that I already knew and loved. Attempting to manufacture a copy-cat town felt wrong, somehow. Not to mention borderline unfeasible. I love fictional Nebraska, but I've only driven through the actual place. I can't count the number of times I've cringed while reading a book set in a place that I know well, and the author clearly does not. Verisimilitude was going to be a problem. But, all the same, I had to set my them somewhere.
That’s when it hit me. Sapphire Falls was not the first quirky small town I’d fallen in love with. To quote Yoda: There is another. And this one was mine: Oberon,California—the site of my very first series.
Migrating the stories to Oberon was not without its own challenges, of course. Challenges that go beyond the fact that, at the moment, the Oberon books are being updated and are not even available for purchase. Making the new books, effectively, a bridge to nowhere!
There is, for example, the fact that rural Nebraska and Coastal California are not even superficially the same place. They have different weather patterns, different geographical features, different geology, different food crops and vegetation, different fauna; their populations favor different sports and recreation, enjoy different food, drink and fashion—the list was bigger than I’d realized when I first came up with the idea. Eventually, however, I managed.
The new version of Going To The Chapel is coming out June 3rd. And, if everything goes as planned, the follow-up book, Going Up the Country, will release this November—just in time for Thanksgiving. Which in itself is awesome, since I've wanted to write a Thanksgiving-themed Oberon story for years!
There's not as much magic in the crossover stories as there are in the actual Oberon books, which makes sense since there's none at all in the LA Love Lessons books. And then again, I've always thought of the Oberon series as Paranormal-lite.
You can read more about both these stories here: https://www.pgforte.com/crossover-novellas