Foreword: Let me just say that I’m honored when anyone reads my books. When they write a review, I’m stunned with gratitude that they’d take that time to express how they feel—good or bad. (I prefer good!) If I see that a reader has recommend my books to others, I view that as a high form of praise. And when someone writes to me personally with a question or comment, I consider it a special privilege. Even if what they share is not kind, it opens the door for possible dialogue. (Obviously, I’m not without feelings, and it can hurt. We writers are an insecure bunch!)
There are two questions that I get often. The fact that someone likes what I write enough to even ask these questions is a huge compliment; a simple answer to either inquiry is a bit more complicated.
Are you writing another novel?
My new book, A Time to Every Purpose, has been out less than six months, and I’ve already been asked several times about the next one. And it's happened after each of my books were published.
The answer is Yes.
Honestly, in one way or another, I think I’m always working on a new book. Or two. And more. (Sounds like A.D.D., doesn’t it?) The fact is, I have several that I’m working on right now, with outlines for several more.
I get ideas and write them down and usually for several days/weeks, I’ll make notes, jot down a two-three sentence synopsis of the story, think about the location/setting, ponder the characters, even assign names to make them more real to me. (The character’s name can change as the book progresses and I get to know them better. “You are more like a ‘Matt’ than an ‘Alan.’”).
There’s no time limit on this “percolation” process, but it does help me figure out how workable the idea might be. I want to see if the story captivates me and whether the characters come to life. I need them to “talk to me.”
Author’s Note: I know how cray-cray this sounds. More like schizophrenia than art. But there is a touch of madness about immersing oneself into a made-up world. But once that happens, the people who live in that world can often become self-directing. Well into writing Sow the Wind, Reap the Whirlwind (my first book), one of my characters revealed himself to be gay, and that was not planned. (No spoilers!) I was actually surprised, but it made sense.
And there have been times when I would write a scene, or conversation, and I could hear my character object. “I would not do that.” “I would never say that!”
Often, the idea just fades away. (I file away the notes for later.) Sometimes, I realize it works betters as a short story. Or the story might...die. <sigh> Just after Sow the Wind was released, I had an idea which I was convinced would be my next novel. And I loved the concept. It took place in Dallas, in the 1960s, and would follow five people's lives over a period of 20 years—from graduate school to their chosen careers. I did extensive research. I “knew” the people who would inhabit the expansive story, and had significant biographies for each of them. I had written about nearly a hundred pages when it all came to a sudden halt. Hard to explain how or why; the characters stopped “talking” to me. I couldn’t figure out what happened next. It’s still that “unfinished novel” that every writer probably has. Fortunately, it was at that same time I got the idea for The Mind Set on the Flesh, my second novel.
(I hope one day I can return and continue. I want to tell THAT story!)
Will you be writing a sequel?
Sow the Wind has generated the sequel question most; less so on The Mind Set on the Flesh. (Again, very humbling to an author.)
At this point, the answer is No.
In my mind, the "Wind" story was done/resolved, though some would have liked a more...definitive ending. (Can't say more without spoiling!) And it's not from lack of trying, particularly with Sow the Wind. Once I actually sat down and attempted to write a continuing story (not a sequel, per se), using two of the secondary characters. But it didn’t work; they weren’t “talking” to me.
Could it happen in the future?
If the characters decide they have something more to say!
Thank you for your questions about my book.
If you have something you’d like me to answer, please make a comment here, post your question on my Facebook page, or send me a private Facebook message.
For the sake of full disclosure: I do not drink wine when I write. Years ago I found that the next day, I usually dislike everything I wrote. And, if we’re being totally honest, I don’t use an Mac, either. I'm a PC guy!
WHEW. I feel better.