Release Date: August 27th 2019
Guest Post – The Ins & Outs of Writing A Sequel
In Isle of Blood and Stone, Lady Reyna of del Mar is nine years old, the granddaughter of a famed navigator, who wants nothing more than to be an explorer in her own right. When I first started writing about Reyna, I never meant for her to be more than a minor character. But by the end of my first draft, she had worked her way into my heart, much the same way she does with Isle’s hero, Elias, here:
From Isle of Blood and Stone:
Beside Elias, Reyna knelt on a chair and leaned over one map, her brows knit in concentration. Carefully, she sketched in the most vicious-looking sea monsters he had ever seen, in person or on a sea chart.
“That is terrifying,” he commented. When she smiled at him, he asked, “Have you seen the finned lion in person?” Her drawing was very realistic and macabre for someone still wearing double braids. The creature bore the head of a lion, a spiked fin on its back, and a long, curving serpent’s tale. An unlucky seaman dangled from the lion’s jaws, his mouth opened in a scream and his ropy innards spilling onto Elias’s shoreline in black ink.
“Only a baby. Grandfather and I saw it from the clifftops in Alfonse.”
Luca reached around her for a freshly sharpened stylus. “Have you traveled beyond del Mar, Reyna?”
“No, sir. Never.”
Elias caught Luca’s eye. They had both heard the wistful note in her voice, and on her face was a look they both recognized and understood. How could they not? They had felt it themselves, all of their lives.
Elias found himself curious. He asked Reyna, “If you could sail off today, where would you go?”
She set aside her quill as she thought about his question. Her face took on a dreamy quality and her answer, when it came, did not surprise him.
“I would go everywhere.”
So that was that. Reyna would get her own story. But how to go about writing a sequel? I had never written one before. First, I decided that the second book would not be a sequel, technically. Instead, I would write it as a standalone companion, which means readers did not have to read the books in any particular order. They were self-contained stories.
In Song of the Abyss, Reyna is seventeen-years old, no longer a young girl. The biggest challenge while writing a companion (in addition to all the regular challenges like plot holes, pacing, cliché avoidance, and character development) was to make sure I didn’t ruin the first book for those who had not read it yet. No spoilers! Was there a villain in the previous book? If so, do not expose her. Or him. Or them. Did I kill anyone off? Well then, don’t have one of the characters visiting their grave and brooding about it.
The key was keeping backstory to a minimum. It also helped to take Reyna away from the original setting and to introduce her to new characters. New to her and, more importantly, new to the reader. Did it work? I hope so! Readers are always welcome to send me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me so.
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