I've started a new Dick and Henry story, I'm about 6,000 words in, and I think it's coming along pretty well. I'm hitting pause on it while I work on some other stories, and it feels right to me. As much as I want to continue the Dick and Henry series, and as much as I have planned, it is hard to feel as passionate about these projects as I do some of my others. I think the issue is one both of limitation and one of difficulty. For me, there are limitations when writing in a series. There has to be an arc for the characters to reach within any story, or there is no point to the story. It will feel hollow if the characters don't grow. When dealing with a series, one which each novel is self contained, it's difficult to make that growth meaningful each time (and also realistic). I almost feel like I have to hold back on where I'd like to take Dick emotionally, for fear of going too far and having nothing left to say in future stories. Perhaps this is something I need to map out, so I can see exactly where I want Dick to be, and see what his arcs should be in each book. I know story wise what I want the next and last book to be about, but I haven't really thought heavily on the themes, though they seem to come naturally when I stop and think about them (each mystery has an obvious theme that would work with the story, but I won't mention them here, as it would spoil the surprise). Now, that was me describing what I feel are for me, the limitations of writing in a series, now I'll talk about the difficulty of writing in the Dick and Henry universe. I am primarily a sci-fi and fantasy writer. I don't write epic fantasy (the stuff with elves and dragons), but typically dark fantasy (Stephen King, mostly without the horror). You can get examples of this in the descriptions both my novels Bad Dreams and Lady Luck. Dick and Henry is definitely science fiction, but it's different then some of my other science fiction. Sunborn, is scifi, and so are many of the stories in Skeletons, but both Sunborn and Skeletons have aspects of dark fantasy. They both have gritty realism peppered around the sci-fi bits that ground it into something we could imagine our world turning into. Dick and Henry is different. It's primarily escapism, a throwback to the sci-fi stories of the 1950s, peppered with bits of social commentary and humanism themes. It's in these stories that I'm working my hardest to fit genre conventions to meet the expectations of my readers. I learned this the hard way, that readers will pick up a copy of a story expecting one thing, only to find themselves angry when they get another. I went back and edited the first collection of Dick and Henry stories, cutting out the heavy swearing. In the sequel I made sure to write the first draft without heavy cursing, and played up the sense of adventure and fun.
Now, despite Dick and Henry being some of the hardest fiction for me to write, it doesn't mean that I don't enjoy it, just that it takes me longer to do it, and I feel less inclined to take wild chances (chances that sometimes pay off, as in the twists people loved in Bad Dreams).
I plan to finish the new Dick and Henry story I have in the pipe in time, but right now I'm taking a break from it and working on (you guessed it) a dark fantasy story about a guy who works for a memory altering company who decides to use the technology on himself.
I have some interesting plans for Henry's character after the Dick and Henry series comes to a close, but I won't reveal them until things have moved further along. Until then, you'll just have to wait.