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On sequels

On Sequels

I've written two sequels to date and, by and large, I enjoy writing them. One of the hardest things for me, when beginning a new book, is getting to know the characters. Once I have them nailed - as in they live in the dark hole in the back of my brain that seems responsible for writing books - I can, generally, happily write a new book about them.

Up until now, however, my sequels have all been in the Abendau world. Not only do I know the characters insanely well - I can slip into any of their point of views easily - but the first book hadn't been released so there was no weight of expectation. If I write another in that world - and my plan, eventually, is a second trilogy based around the younger generation - it will be because it has exploded out of me and I'm writing it because I need to and I love to.

The sequel I'm starting to work on is different. It's to Inish Carraig, it's been asked for and will follow up a book that is popular and the one I am most often asked about, to date. I'm feeling my way in it - I'm even plotting and world building, for heaven's sake! - and trying to regain the voices of characters I haven't inhabited for some time and who have grown a little since book one.

I'm daunted, not just in practical terms - Inish Carraig is light on world building, for plot, character and narrative reasons and I need to make sure what I put in place in this book supports book one. This one will have a lot more about the alien worlds and tech, for instance, and the political and martial structures that support them. That's all daunting. But, mostly, I think I'm worried that whatever alchemy that came together in book one still works in book two....

When daunted, the only answer is to break the task down. Normally I just sit down and write (and I'll do that, too, and already have the first couple of chapters drafted) but this time I might even need to plan a little too. That being the case my plan of action is:

Reread book one - to rediscover the voices, to remind myself of some plot things, and just to immerse myself back into the world. It is a weird thing, reading your own book. It's easy to itch and scritch and mutter about sentence construction and the like. Occasionally it's surprising how much I still like some scenes!

Research possible planetary settings. At this stage, I think Alpa Centuria AB/ Alpha Proxima are the most likely stars for the Zelotyr and Barath'na to hail from, but there are other possibilities. Cue astronomy books (yes, I have some! Mostly ones with 'for dummies' in their title) and headaches.

Then, research military systems and hardware. Some of this was in book one - notably through the space attack and the smart bombs - but it all needs expanded on.

Sort out the structure of the Galactic Council. I have a charter, written for Inish Carraig, but need to formalise the structure

Work out what direction Earth has gone in. And, specifically, consider what might be happening in a future Northern Ireland. That one is giving me sleepless nights already.

Sort out the double-stranded plot line. This will, I think, emerge from the above strands.

For now, then, the PC is closed and no writing underway. But - be feared! - I have a notebook and a pen. What could possibly go wrong?


Anonymous said…
-grin- Oh this feels so familiar. The first sci-fi novel I ever published was always meant to be book 1 of a series, but another story popped up and completely distracted me. Now, I'm circling the first book and going through the same issues that you have found. Distance is great for some things, not so great for others. My solution has been to immerse myself in creating the graphics for the second series instead. I call it creative procrastination.

Best of luck with the Innish sequel. As someone who enjoyed the first book very much, I'd love to read the next instalment. No pressure though. :p
Joanne Zebedee said…
Thank you! Although you have just introduced a whole new realm of procrastination.... :)