When I wrote the original draft of For Blood or Money, all the action took place in 30 days. The sequel, Municipal Blondes, took place in the next 30 days, and this year I wrote a second sequel, Stocks & Bondage, that took place on the following 30 days. That started five years ago. The novel I just finished took place four years ago according to this timeline. Sue Grafton has done this extraordinarily well with the Kinsey Milhone alphabet novels. They started years ago and the timeline has remained consistent. No cell phones clutter Kinsey’s world.
But times—and technology—change, and I find myself wanting to challenge my hero with today’s tech instead of what was available four years ago. And this problem is multiplied when I consider writing a prequel to For Blood or Money that follows Dag Hamar soon after he has become a computer forensics detective. In the timeline of that world, strictly speaking, the book would take place in the late 80s or early 90s. But that seems so dated.
So, the question is whether to write according to the strict timeline of the first story (which by the way, has no overwhelming construct of dateable tech and holds together well as a “contemporary” piece rather than a “period” piece) and deal only with the world as he would have seen it in the 90s, or do I simply write in the moment for each book I develop. I’m thinking the latter is the right course for Dag as he deals with a case of stolen identity and possible human trafficking. The tentative title is “No Escape Key” and I expect to develop it as a screenplay first and a novel later in the year.