I'm not sure how I can add much to what my fellow panelists have offered this week in terms of the benefits and challenges of writing a standalone versus writing a series mystery. Alan's take yesterday struck a nice balance between efficiency and comprehensiveness on that question—advantages and disadvantages on each side.
On the Road with Del & Louise: A Novel in Stories. Their first appearance in "Rearview Mirror" was also intended to be their last: a full narrative arc, a complete and completed tale. And it wasn't until several years later that I wondered what might have happened next and started on the story that eventually became "Commission." From there, the series grew—more adventures, more stories, and then a book of them, ultimately designed (with a little retrofitting on the first two) as the novel in stories. Here again, however, that book was ultimately planned not as the first in a series but as a standalone itself: a series of stories, yes, but then a novel with its own full narrative arc—the overarching tale both complete and completed.
Never say never, though—right? As anyone who's read the book can recognize, I've left the ending open for these characters to maybe pop up again with more adventures down that longer road.
Agatha Award for Best First Novel for On the Road with D&L, and I've been very fortunate since then too, with the announcements for this year's Anthony Award finalists. On the Road is in contention for Best First Novel there as well, and Murder Under the Oaks, a collection I edited for last year's Bouchercon, was named a finalist for Best Anthology or Collection—and congratulations as well to my Criminal Minds compadre Catriona McPherson, a finalist for Best Novel for The Child Garden. Hooray!
I'm feeling spoiled on all counts, and I'm looking forward not only to Bouchercon in New Orleans but also to maybe hosting some of my fellow finalists here before long. Stay tuned!