Best selling author Anita Waller joins me on the blog today and tells me her thoughts Writing a Sequel. Anita is a hugely popular author with several cracking reads to her name with more to follow by the sound of it.
Thoughts on Writing a sequel
When I wrote Beautiful it never occurred to me for one minute that there could possibly be a sequel. I was a brand new author, overwhelmed that Bloodhound Books had offered me a contract, and once Beautiful was up and running I began work on 34 Days.
Beautiful launched 31 August 2015 and by Christmas it was clear from reviews that I needed to consider a sequel. I had stupidly left people alive! On December 27, I began to write Angel, shelving 34 Days until Angel was either thrown in the bin or published.
It was completed on 19 March 2016, and launched 7 May 2016. This was an 80,000 word novel finished well within three months. I believe I wrote it so fast because I already knew my characters intimately. They had been with me through 100,000 words of Beautiful and they were part of me. Obviously I had to introduce newcomers, but the core relationships had carried over and having lived with these characters for twenty years or so, I knew them. The words flowed, and I believe Angel to be a better book than Beautiful. Maybe.
I went back to 34 Days and added around 40,000 words to the abandoned manuscript, sending it off to Bloodhound in August 2016. It was launched 3 October 2016 and did amazingly well. It has well over 225 reviews in the US and over 150 here. Around 50% of the reviews (yes, I do read every one) request a sequel.
In the meantime I completed Winterscroft and that will be launched on 24 February 2016. There will definitely be no sequel to that.
And so now I am working on the sequel to 34 Days. If readers want a sequel I am happy to oblige. Again I am comfortable with my characters and I have had great fun with this one because during the ensuing months I have set several competitions at launch parties where part of the prize has been a named part in the book. I have included four names who not only form part of the book, but will also get a mention in the acknowledgements.
The two sequels required no research, as obviously they carry on from where they left off, and while I felt a little in despair when I began Angel because I didn’t know where it would go, once I invited my characters back into my monitor, the ideas came quite easily and naturally. The same has happened with 34 Days, so now I am beginning to understand the attraction of finding a brilliant character in a police procedural, and just going with it. I put forward Robin Roughley as an amazing exponent of the police procedural art; DS Lasser is a formidable character, and Robin has very wisely kept him as his main man.
I would suggest to fellow authors that if a sequel is suggested by your readership, don’t dismiss it. You know the main players; just give them a different scenario and see where it goes. It will almost feel like a step backwards at the beginning because you’ve finished with the book that introduced them to the world and your brain, but give those characters a bit of freedom and the storyline will flow.
And the readers want sequels because they loved your characters. What greater compliment could you get? Don’t let them down. Write the sequel.
Thanks for your time Anita and happy writing.