KILLING MAJOR CHARACTERS - I DID IT - I RECOMMEND IT

In SHANGHAIED, the fourth book of my Ray Sharp series, I killed Ray Sharp himself. Really killed him. He isn't coming back. (I killed him in the first person, present tense, halfway through the book.) The narration is taken over by his sidekick, Wen Lei Yue. She will take over the series for at least the next two books. You can read about my reasons here: http://www.ericstone.com/blog.html

I'm considering writing a couple of prequels - books based on true stories that took place chronologically before I killed Ray. How do people feel about prequels?

Do you know of any other series in which the author has killed the series character and not in some way brought them back later? Or brought them back only through prequels?

I couldn't help myself. I had to do it. I'm curious as to what people think of it, and think of my reasons for doing so (as expressed in my blog).

And, what should authors of long running series do to shake them up, to make them fresh? Couldn't Spenser or Kinsey Milhorne use some sort of cataclysmic upheaval in their lives at this point?

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More power to you, both on the killing and the prequels.

Colin Dexter killed Morse, but that ended the series. I guess he got tired of the old curmudgeon. And yes to killing off Spenser and Kinsey. Should have happened many years ago. In this case, the reader got tired of them.
I just got to the point where it made too much sense to the plot and the character, not to kill him off. It actually took me by surprise. What I get for not outlining, I suppose.
Did you dislike your main character, Eric? That's the only reason I'd kill one of mine--if I started to find him/her tedious. But yeah--it's always fun to blow up the conventions. Go cat go!
It's a gutsy move, Eric. And it allows you to move onto another sleuth in an established series. But I'm not sure how much interest readers will have in prequels if they know the character is dead.

Didn't Conan Doyle kill of Holmes, only to bring him back, or am I thinking of some other writer?
That was Conan Doyle and Holmes, but I'm not planning on bringing back Ray. The series will continue though, having been taken over by Wen Lei Yue.
Conan Doyle's enormous reading public howled in dismay, and his publisher dangled sacks of cash--that's why he brought Holmes back. He wanted to concentrate on his historical novels (romances, really), which no one read or cared about. Just goes to show you.
Strange, my WIP is sort of a romantic noir. But so far, no howling public or big money offers from publishers to bring Ray back.
There's something to be said for not being owned by your characters.
I did find it disorienting when you killed Ray. Kept expecting him to come back. I'm disappointed because I liked him.
I liked him too, but part of what got him killed was what I liked about him - that he was a normal guy without any special or super skills or powers. A guy like that, sooner or later his luck was bound to run out.
Nicolas Freeling killed his major character, Piet van der Valk, whose wife took over for a case or two, I believe.
The market usually takes care of itself. If readers want more of the same and writers have mortgages and mouths to feed, there will always be paper pablum on the shelves.

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