The writing community is an amazing place. It has welcomed me with open arms and allowed me to learn so much about publishing. One of the incredible things about this community is meeting other writers.
One of my first critique partners, Katie French, who I met through a pitch conference, is now a close friend. I was fortunate enough to read her first book, The Breeders, and was a staunch supporter when she decided to self-publish.
Over the past several months, Katie has been working on her follow-up called, The Believers. I’ve read a major portion of this book and the story is a complete and total thrill ride. I’ve heard many stories about the challenges of writing a sequel, so today I’ve asked Katie to share her experience with taking on the enormous task of writing the second book in a series.
Tackling The Sequel
By Katie French
The dreaded sequel. Has a second book ever lived up to the first? Can it even be done? I’ll give you a moment to ponder over all the sequels, be it movie or book, that let you down. Finished? No? The list is too long? Now you see my problem. Right now I am about to release a sequel in my series The Breeders. Not to toot my own horn, but The Breeders Book 1 did pretty well as my debut. So, like a diligent little work horse, I hopped back on the track and got to work on the sequel for which my fans were clamoring. For a year or more, I’ve been banging away every night to finish. And, frankly, it’s been hard, y’all.
Sometimes writing flows easily like a gentle stream tripping delicately along. And sometimes writing feels more like a trickle of sludge barely scraping through a pin hole. For months, my sequel felt like a mud pie and I was the pin hole. (Or pin head, whichever you’d rather.) For a while I wondered why writing had grown so difficult. Was I losing my touch? After writing my fourth book did something come unmoored in my brain? Had I lost it??? It would explain a lot, but lord help me.
Then I started to really ponder the sequel. First I examined all the movie sequels that had bombed. Think of Back to the Future II or The Matrix Reloaded. I mean, awful. Did any of you know there was a Speed II? I didn’t because I assume it was so bad it was unwatchable. In fact, I think there are only a handful of movies where the second was even close to being as good as the first. Books are not immune to the sequel disease. I’ve read many YA sci fi sequels this year and have quit reading quite a few. It’s so much rehashing of strangled plot twists. Or worse, more mooning over an aloof male love interest. Or more love triangles. As my teenage sister would’ve said in 1985, “Gag me with a spoon.”
I think this is why writing a sequel is so hard. Every time I put a word down I would think, “This isn’t as good as The Breeders. You are only going to disappoint all those people who are waiting patiently for this. Give up now and play Candy Crush.” Usually I’m very good at squashing those devious voices, but the problem is the better The Breeders sold, the more likely what I was writing wasn’t as good. It’s hard to silence voices when there is a chance that they are right.
But then I finished it. How, I’m not sure. Caffeine, tears and some blood sacrifices and my sequel was done. And then when I looked it over realized it was my best attempt. Even better, I realized I really, really liked this book. And that, my friends, is all I can offer.
They’ve escaped the Breeders, yet their journey has just begun. Riley and Clay are once again on the run from the Breeders. The group may have escaped the deranged experiments at the hospital, but as one of the world’s last free women, Riley can never be safe. On the road back home, Riley and her crew are captured by a band of savage men. Their destination: the Citadel, run by a bizarre religious prophet named the Messiah. Somehow he knows their secrets. He wants them to join his group of Believers, but only if they’ll drink the baptismal water and swear allegiance. The problem is there’s something wrong with the water. Something wrong with the people. And there’s human moaning coming from the bottom of a dark crevasse that no one wants to talk about. If they can’t figure out what’s going on, Riley and everyone she loves could become a Believer forever.
Now available on Amazon!
Katie French imagined herself an author when her poem caught the eye of her second grade teacher. In middle school she spent her free time locked in her room, writing her first young adult novel. Though her social life suffered, her love for literature thrived. She studied English at Eastern Michigan University, where she veered from writing and earned an education degree. She spent nine years teaching high school English. Currently she is a school counselor, doing a job that is both one of the hardest things she’s ever done and the most rewarding. In her free time she writes, reads great books and takes care of her two beautiful and crazy children. She is a contributor and co-creator of Underground Book Reviews, a website dedicated to erasing the boundaries between traditional and non-traditional publishing. She lives in Michigan with her husband and two children. She is represented by Amanda Luedeke of MacGregor Literary. You can find her at www.katiefrenchbooks.com, at www.undergroundbookreviews.com or on Facebook.