When I finished my first published novel, Javenny, I wanted to create a sequel escalating the theme of water. I began Rebuilding Javenny but only after I’d written the first draft of another book, one exploring the theme of memory. That novel became Transient City. My publisher expressed interest in the Javenny sequel as my second contracted book for Bundoran Press but I had so much more passion about Transient City, he agreed to look at it. He bought it and before it was even published, he offered a contract to write a sequel to Transient, sight unseen.
I was flattered in his confidence but wasn’t certain I shared it. I wrote Transient as a stand-alone book, no loose ends: everybody dies or moves away (no spoiler here). I took a day or two to mull the offer over. Of course I was going to do it, this is what being a ‘writer’ is all about, the ability to create a compelling story from scratch and not awaiting the muse to inspire. What to do? First, sign the contract. Second, don’t panic. Third, get past the panic. Fourth, pull a book out of my…brain.
My brain surprised me, as it often does during the writing process. Stories do end but the lives of the surviving characters do not. Protagonists are supposed to change and certainly Victor had. Being changed doesn’t mean he’d be any less vulnerable. As I thought about him, I recognized changes create new challenges by bringing the character or characters into conflict with the world in which they’d previously survived despite their quirks and handicaps. There was the kernel of the sequel.
I needed more. Secondary characters from Transient now had an opportunity to step up and have more of their story told. They’d have to, I’d removed (spoiler alert here) the villains and one of the most compelling aspects of Transient (you know if you’ve read it). I had a revelation at this point, why should I do all the heavy lifting? I had superb Transient beta readers. Put them to work earning their spot in the Acknowledgements. I asked my minions what they liked most about Transient and what they wanted more of. Big help to focus on themes for the sequel.
The final key component was the freedom to introduce new characters. The plot threads came out of character and setting, the new people and places came from my imagination. Don’t discount the power of deadline and expectation in the creative process.
Rogue Town: Transient Lost (working title) nears final edits for a Spring 2017 publication and I’m thrilled. It was no chore to write it and I thoroughly enjoyed the cast this time around. The techniques I learned from the exercise I will use in the future. Hopefully when my publisher says of some work, “hey, that was really good, you should write a sequel.”
Is there a third book? Well, never say never. Again, I wrote Rogue Town as complete in itself, especially wishing to avoid the sometimes weak-middle-book-of-a-trilogy syndrome. I have other books in preparation (plus that Javenny sequel is sitting on the shelf), so it will be a while before Transient Found is more than a title on a 3 x 5 file card.