|James P. Wilcox|
Is one really enough? Listen in as James shares the secret to a good sequel.
When did you know you would write a sequel to your first book?
Honestly, I never planned on writing a sequel. When I finished writing my first novel: Sex, Lies, and the Classroom, I had told the story I wanted to tell. I had developed the group of characters with the purpose of telling one story and one story only. Once that story was told, the characters basically stopped talking to me. Several months after Sex, Lies, and the Classroom was published, I was visited with a book club who had read my book.
During the conversation, one of readers said, “So what happens next?”
I looked at her, with what must have been a puzzled expression because she then said, “What happens to Nathaniel O’Connell and Tyreshia (these are the main characters of the story) after the book ends?”
I shook my head and told her that I had no idea. She then said, “I want to know more about the relationship that formed with O’Connell and Tyreshia.”
That one little statement got me thinking about what does happen next. It got me thinking about the relationships between the characters and I decided to explore the growing relationship between the teacher O’Connell and his student Tyreshia. I didn’t decide to write a sequel immediately though, I thought about it for months and eventually decided to write a sequel titled Sacrificing Tyreshia, which I am currently working on (grab a sneak peek of Chapter 1 at http://www.jamespwilcox.com/2011/09/14/sacrificing-tyreshia-chapter-1-free-sample/)
What is the purpose of your sequel?
What questions will your sequel answer?
Without giving to much of the story away, there are a couple of questions the sequel will try to answer. The first is whether the teacher Nathaniel O’Connell will actually teach again. The second question the sequel will attempt to answer is how Tyreshia will adjust to her new circumstances. The next questions looking for an answer is whether Tyreshia will lose her daughter or not. Finally, how will O’Connell meet the needs of his growing family, especially his daughter Anne, who is visually-impaired.
How does an author decide that they should write a sequel?
This is a very hard question to answer because writing is such an individual, personal, and unique experience for each writer. For me, it is all about the characters. When I was deciding on writing a sequel, the question I struggled with is whether the characters merited a sequel. Had I developed characters who were strong enough to hold up in a second story without simply rehashing what the original story. When I realized that the characters from Sex, Lies, and the Classroom had another story to tell, I decided to attempt a sequel.
This only suggestion I have at this point is to remember that the reader hasn’t necessarily read the first book when they decide to tackle the sequel. The author has to provide enough background information so that the reader will understand what connects the characters without including the original story. The author walks a very fine line here. If the writer provides to little information, the reader will miss part of the story, but if the writer provides too much background information, the new story will suffer.
Thank you James for giving us some thoughtful insight. I'm looking forward to your sequel Sacrificing Tyreshia.
More about James P. Wilcox
James P. Wilcox is the author of Sex, Lies, and the Classroom and The M-16 Agenda. James, a former newspaper photographer and writer, is currently a high school teacher in the Kansas City area, where he lives with his wife and three children. James is currently working on his third novel, titled Sacrificing Tyreshia, which is a sequel to his novel Sex, Lies, and the Classroom, and a short poetry collection titled: Musings of a Particular Bear. To find more information about James and his work, visit the official author website at http://www.jamespwilcox.com.