Okay, before I begin to ramble about this and that, I want to point something out.
Exactly one year ago on this very blog, I posted the following under a blog post entitled How to be a Jobless Person Who Doesn’t Put on Pants:
Here’s a few things I plan on doing with my days as a full-time writer:
–grow a beard (shut up, it is going to look awesome, you don’t even know)
–adopt a dog (his name is going to be Breadbox and I will love him)
–blog once a week (because for some reason, people like my ramblings)
–write 5-10K words a day (I can totally do this)
–breathe for the first time in a long time (and my god, it’s going to feel so good)
I’ve been a full-time writer for a whole fucking year.
I grew a beard (I looked like a mugshot). I got a dog (his name is Hendrix). I absolutely do not blog once a week (I am a lying liar who lies). I write 5-10K words a day (some of them are even good words). And I have breathed.
Thank you for letting me do this.
What’s even weirder to think is that blog was also posted a few days before the release of The Queen & the Homo Jock King. And here I am a year later, posting this blog a few days before the release of Until You, the third book in the same series. A sequel, if you will.
But what followed Queen in 2016 was a year of non-sequels. Each book I released after Queen had nothing to do with any book that had come before 2016, much to the chagrin of more than a few people, I’m sure. Five books in total, and four of the books were brand new stuff.
And now we’re in 2017.
I’m releasing five books again.
Four of which are sequels, with only one being something unrelated to any prior book.
I worry, sometimes, about sequels. If people really loved the original, can a sequel ever really measure up to it? Are sequels even necessary? Even if it doesn’t dilute the original, won’t a lot of it be a rehash of the book that came before?
And then there are those odd creatures, the romance readers who say they don’t like sequels that are about the same couples. The whole point, they say, is the getting together, and if the two (or three) (or seven) characters already have their happy ending, what else can possibly need to be said? It could positively ruin the happy ending and why, retched author, would you even want to do that?
I get it. I really do.
But sometimes, I say fuck that noise.
Look. When I start a book, I don’t try and think about what potential it could have for a series. A sequel is the furthest thing from my mind. I want to get through a story, have it be either funny or soul-destroying (sometimes both at the same time) and when I finish, I can step away from it and then think about the future could hold.
Bear, Otter and the Kid was supposed to be a standalone.
But I can understand the allure of sequels for an author, especially if it revolves around the same set of characters. There is a comfort, there, in writing again about this MC or that MC. When I started writing the final BOATK book, I was worried too much time had passed, and that I wouldn’t be able to find Bear’s voice again. After all, the last time I’d really written a book from his POV, was in 2012.
Same with Paul from Tell Me It’s Real. That book came out in 2013.
Years have passed. Sure, both of those characters had parts to play in follow up stories with other characters as a lead, but it’s not quite the same. We saw Bear through the Kid’s eyes in The Art of Breathing, and Paul through Sandy in Queen.
So imagine my surprise when I sat down to write the last BOATK book just how easy it was. And when I went back to Paul, it flowed.
Why? I don’t quite know.
It makes me wonder, sometimes, what it would be like to go back to other stories. To see what would happen if I wrote more.
What are Benji and Cal up to from Into This River I Drown?
What’s going on with Gus and Casey from How to Be a Normal Person?
Surely there are decades of stories in John & Jackie, right?
And I agonize over that. I’ve made no secret for my soft spot for Gustavo Tiberius. I love him, probably more than any other character I’ve written. And the Three Ironic Amigos! Surely they need their own stories told, right?
But as much as readers worry about sequels ruining what came before, so do authors. I am absolutely conscious of what could happen. Hell, I’ve read follow up books that sucked so bad, they left a bad taste in my mouth for the first book.
I could very easily go back to Abby, Oregon and Gus and Casey and probably churn out another story there. I could find out what happened after Benji allowed his grief for Big Eddie to fade and what Cal did as he found himself human for the first time.
But I stop myself, if ever those thoughts start to run through my head. Because I’ve told myself time and time again that some stories should just stay as they are. They don’t need to have more.
Which, then, is why 2017 is a big fat failure for me, because I didn’t necessarily follow my own advice sometimes.
And, in 2018, Lightning4!
Hell, even now, I’m writing the sequel to Wolfsong.
WHY AM I LIKE THIS.
Until You was supposed to be folded up into Corey/Kori’s story, but then I thought how awesome it would be to have Paul’s wedding from his own POV.
The Art of Breathing could have been the end of the series, until I wrote that last chapter with the whole (spoilers) TWINS! MOM IS DEAD! LONG LOST SISTER IS HERE! (I swear, it’s not as soap-opery as it sounds)(mostly).
Failure # 2.
Lightning2 and 3 and 4?
Yes, well. Oops.
But! In my defense, these three books are most definitely not a rehash of the first one. In fact, I went in a completely different direction as possible to make fun of an entirely different trope (instead of the whole rescue prince(ss) from a dragon, I decided to fuck around with the whole chosen one idea). I also upped the stakes quite a bit. It’s always going to be a crack-ish comedy, but it has a higher emotional heft now. But we’ll talk more about that down the road.
But, I do have endgames in mind, which helps.
BOATK4 is it. No more. It’s done.
Lightning4 is it for Sam of Wilds.
There will be one more book after Until You for Corey/Kori, and that’s it. I hope to do their book for some point in 2018. I’m closing a lot of doors within the next year or two, and I’m happy-sad about it. Sad, because they will be done. Happy, because I have so many other ideas that I want to explore.
So! I hope you’re ready for this year.
Until You is February 27th.
My one standalone, Olive Juice, is out at the end of April.
Then it’s Lightning and BOATK and more Lightning.
It should be a wild ride.
See you next month!
PS: Also, pre-order Until You:
(But no, seriously, think about it: what if Gus and Casey OPEN A BED AND BREAKFAST AND THERE ARE SHENANIGANS AND I FINALLY TELL EVERYONE THAT THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE WE THREE QUEENS IS THAT THEY ARE—)