So here’s the fast version: I am not working on the sequel to VampCon. I am working on a new book. This came as quite a surprise to me. Why? Because the whole time I was writing VampCon, I was convinced that I would produce at least two sequels. And now, I’m like: “Oh crikey*… it’s not happening!” This may be news to everyone except my spouse.
So what exactly happened?
As I said, when I started writing VampCon, I was convinced that at least two sequels were forthcoming. And I spent three years working on that book, so there was a lot of time for this idea to sink in and take hold.
There are a lot of compelling reasons for any fantasy author to write sequels: People who liked the first book will tend to check out the sequel. You can establish a marketable product in the characters themselves. Many of my literary heroes write book series. And it’s a cool thing to do.
But alas it wasn’t in the cards. I did try. I actually started writing the sequel while finishing the final edits of VampCon. The next book was called BurnWave, set mostly in Russia and Boston. I have about 80 pages of the first draft done and copious notes (including a 12 page outline of events). So what happened? What went wrong?
The problem was that the story of BurnWave felt forced. The thing about VampCon is that (love it or hate it- and some people really did hate it) it is a story of people coming to terms with things, of people evolving, and of figuring who they are and what they can do. Whereas, with BurnWave, it felt more like a series of well crafted events, one placed after another. A lot of these events were cool and interesting, but they lacked a certain depth. I never felt like I was engaging a story with a lot of heart.
And I began to question what- exactly- I wanted out of my writing process. I wasn’t sure. This isn’t unusual. I often go through periods where I feel confused/ ambivalent about my storytelling. (I call these periods: “doubtquakes”- as in: “Oh God. I’m experiencing yet another doubtquake.”) So I put BurnWave on hold and started noodling around, just messing with ideas.
This “noodling” period produced a bunch of unfinished work. For example, I have a about 100 pages of an Alt-Western on my computer, waiting for me to finish it someday (probably many years from now). And some really good stuff came out of it (There will be a VampCon prequel, a novella called BloodWise, probably out in 2014).
But nothing really took hold and (in the meantime) BurnWave kept fading away in the rear view mirror. To my shock, I wasn’t entirely sad to see it go. I guess (to use vampire terminology) it never really sunk its teeth into me. That doesn’t mean that there will never be a sequel to VampCon, but it clearly means that it won’t be coming anytime soon.
Then in February, a new idea appeared. I just had some sketchy basics at first, but I started writing, and a competent outline and credible main characters began to evolve. Today I am over 100 pages into my new novel project, and this one does have my attention. This one has heart. All I’m going to tell you about it now is that it’s called “Eyes Down”, and there are no vampires, but it does have mages. I am enjoying the process, and I hope to have it done by 2015.
But in the meantime, I feel like I do owe Jim Butcher, and Charlaine Harris and Charlie Huston all apologies by not living up to their series-writing standards. I guess I’m just discovering exactly what kind of writer I am not.
*= how do you spell crikey? I don’t know.