Ooh La la! The lovely Samantha Tonge is back as a guest on my blog and today she will be talking about what it's been like writing a sequel to her first published novel. As a fellow womag writer, it is always a pleasure to welcome Sam and hear about her latest achievements. You see, as I said in my Writing Magazine article 'Be My Guest'- if you're well behaved on your first visit, you get invited back!
Over to you, Sam.
Add to that, for digital-first authors like me, the fact that the turnaround is very fast, then you have a hotpot of pressure and expectations! Doubting Abbey was published last November. I started writing From Paris with Love in December and finished it in April.
Despite the worries, however, I have always been a fast writer and am lucky enough to work full-time as a novelist. Plus I was very excited about the concept of my new book and letting my bonkers main character, Gemma, lead me through each day is a joy! Writing a sequel does throw up certain challenges, though.
Firstly, you must decide whether it is a standalone, despite being part of a series. For me that was very important. Nothing puts me off a book more than knowing it’s a sequel and that the first book has to be read before you can enjoy it. So in From Paris with Love I have explained the minimum of information from book one, to make Gemma and Lord Edward’s relationship make sense and then, whoosh! It’s off on another adventure. This needs to be done carefully. Nothing jars more in a book than a paragraph of information-dumping. Be subtle. Thread it in slowly – don’t feel the need to get the new reader up-to-date within everything, in the first chapter.
Of course, another option is to choose minor characters from the first book, to take the lead in the second, and this can also work very well. If you don’t however, and stick with the same main leads, it is easy to make the mistake of not moving your characters forward. This was one challenge I faced which involved a rewrite. Even though your second story may, like mine, be a standalone, to be true to the characters you still need to have developed them. What has been the impact of the events of the first story on their personalities? Are they the same people or have they learned from their experiences/mistakes? And whilst I’d considered this during my first draft, I hadn’t deeply thought it through as I was having so much fun with the plot (think Paris, food, romance, mystery men, hot rockstars… You can see why I got distracted!)
And for Gemma and Lord Edward there has been a considerable amount of change – she has matured, become more responsible and (most of the time) less flighty. Whereas he has learnt to kick back a bit, throw off the constraints of his aristocratic upbringing and have fun.
Another challenge is not to repeat themes etc too much, from the first book. When I sent off my initial concept to my agent, she pointed out how the general gist of the plotline had similarities to the first book’s - something I hadn’t noticed at all.
On the whole, however, the sequel flew onto the page. One bonus is that you already know the main characters well and this cuts down tremendously on the amount of preparation needed. You’ve also become very fond of them, having spent months, day in, day out, enjoying their company and I like to think this makes a positive difference to how the book is written.
So now it’s the really challenging part – marketing the book and selling it! The good thing with sequels and series is that all the books bounce off one another. Lower the price of one, it will boost sales of the other. Attract good reviews for the second, it might push readers to take a punt on the first. Well, that’s the theory. All I can do now is keep my fingers crossed and hope readers enjoy following Gemma’s new antics as much as I loved writing them.
Fun-loving Gemma Goodwin knows she should be revelling in her happy-ever-after. Except when her boyfriend Lord Edward popped the question, after a whirlwind romance, although she didn’t say no….she didn’t exactly say yes either!
A month-long cookery course in
could be just the place to make sure her heart and her head are on the same
page… And however disenchanted with romance Gemma is feeling, the City of Paris has plenty to keep
her busy; the champagne is decadently quaffable, the croissants almost too
delicious, and shopping is a national past-time! In fact, everything in Love makes her want to
say Je t’aime…
Except Edward! Paris
might offer plenty
of distractions from wedding planning – including her new friends, mysterious
Joe and hot French rockstar Blade - there’s no reason she couldn’t just try one
or two couture dresses is there? Just for fun… Paris
Thank you, Sam for another informative guest post and I'm we shall see you back here very soon!
From Paris With Love can be bought here:
Doubting Abbey Blog: http://doubtingabbey.blogspot.co.uk/