Thursday, 24 July 2014

Second Novel Syndrome - Guest Post Samantha Tonge




Ooh La la! The lovely Samantha Tonge is back as a guest on my blog and today she will be talking about what it's been like writing a sequel to her first published novel. As a fellow womag writer, it is always a pleasure to welcome Sam and hear about her latest achievements. You see, as I said in my Writing Magazine article 'Be My Guest'- if you're well behaved on your first visit, you get invited back!

Over to you, Sam.


From Paris with Love, the standalone sequel to my debut novel Doubting Abbey, was published yesterday and I’ve been quite nervous about its reception. It’s very similar to Second Album Syndrome – you know, how a band spends years putting together their debut album, to attract the attention of a music producer, but when the much-wanted deal is finally signed, a deadline suddenly looms to produce a quality second album within six months!

Add to that, for digital-first authors like me, the fact that the turnaround is very fast, then you have a hotpot of pressure and expectations! Doubting Abbey was published last November. I started writing From Paris with Love in December and finished it in April.

Despite the worries, however, I have always been a fast writer and am lucky enough to work full-time as a novelist. Plus I was very excited about the concept of my new book and letting my bonkers main character, Gemma, lead me through each day is a joy! Writing a sequel does throw up certain challenges, though.

Firstly, you must decide whether it is a standalone, despite being part of a series. For me that was very important. Nothing puts me off a book more than knowing it’s a sequel and that the first book has to be read before you can enjoy it. So in From Paris with Love I have explained the minimum of information from book one, to make Gemma and Lord Edward’s relationship make sense and then, whoosh! It’s off on another adventure. This needs to be done carefully. Nothing jars more in a book than a paragraph of information-dumping. Be subtle. Thread it in slowly – don’t feel the need to get the new reader up-to-date within everything, in the first chapter.

Of course, another option is to choose minor characters from the first book, to take the lead in the second, and this can also work very well. If you don’t however, and stick with the same main leads, it is easy to make the mistake of not moving your characters forward. This was one challenge I faced which involved a rewrite. Even though your second story may, like mine, be a standalone, to be true to the characters you still need to have developed them. What has been the impact of the events of the first story on their personalities? Are they the same people or have they learned from their experiences/mistakes? And whilst I’d considered this during my first draft, I hadn’t deeply thought it through as I was having so much fun with the plot (think Paris, food, romance, mystery men, hot rockstars… You can see why I got distracted!)

And for Gemma and Lord Edward there has been a considerable amount of change – she has matured, become more responsible and (most of the time) less flighty. Whereas he has learnt to kick back a bit, throw off the constraints of his aristocratic upbringing and have fun.

Another challenge is not to repeat themes etc too much, from the first book. When I sent off my initial concept to my agent, she pointed out how the general gist of the plotline had similarities to the first book’s - something I hadn’t noticed at all.

On the whole, however, the sequel flew onto the page. One bonus is that you already know the main characters well and this cuts down tremendously on the amount of preparation needed. You’ve also become very fond of them, having spent months, day in, day out, enjoying their company and I like to think this makes a positive difference to how the book is written.

So now it’s the really challenging part – marketing the book and selling it! The good thing with sequels and series is that all the books bounce off one another. Lower the price of one, it will boost sales of the other. Attract good reviews for the second, it might push readers to take a punt on the first. Well, that’s the theory. All I can do now is keep my fingers crossed and hope readers enjoy following Gemma’s new antics as much as I loved writing them.

 
Here's a little taster of From Paris With Love to whet your appetite:

 
Every girl dreams of hearing those four magical words Will you marry me? But no-one tells you what’s supposed to happen next…

Fun-loving Gemma Goodwin knows she should be revelling in her happy-ever-after. Except when her boyfriend Lord Edward popped the question, after a whirlwind romance, although she didn’t say no….she didn’t exactly say yes either!

A month-long cookery course in Paris could be just the place to make sure her heart and her head are on the same page… And however disenchanted with romance Gemma is feeling, the City of Love has plenty to keep her busy; the champagne is decadently quaffable, the croissants almost too delicious, and shopping is a national past-time! In fact, everything in Paris makes her want to say Je t’aime… Except Edward!

But whilst Paris might offer plenty of distractions from wedding planning – including her new friends, mysterious Joe and hot French rockstar Blade - there’s no reason she couldn’t just try one or two couture dresses is there? Just for fun…


Thank you, Sam for another informative guest post and I'm we shall see you back here very soon!
 
Samantha Tonge lives in Cheshire with her lovely family, and two cats who think they are dogs. When not writing, she spends her days cycling and willing cakes to rise. She has sold over 80 short stories to women’s magazines. Her bestselling debut novel, Doubting Abbey, came out in November 2013.

 
From Paris With Love can be bought here:



 
Find out more about Samantha:





 

37 comments:

  1. Thank you, Wendy and Samantha, for this lovely and fascinating interview. I loved the idea of developing minor characters for a second novel.

    From Paris With Love looks gorgeous - many congratulations. I'm sure it will be a great success. xx

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  2. Thank you for being our first lovely commenter, Joanna.

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  3. Congratulations on another lovely book, Sam - and thank you and Wendy for a very interesting interview :-) x

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    1. Thank you, Tetesa - Sam's an inspiration.

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  4. Thank you Teresa and Joanna! Yes, it has certainly been a steep learning curve writing sequel, but very enjoyable and something i would certainly consider doing again!

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  5. Very interesting post as I am challenged with this very issue, although with a slightly different concept, at the moment as I put the finishing touches to my second novel. I was very interested in your comment about being put off if you have to read the first book to enjoy the second. Mine has been billed as a trilogy from the start so I am expecting readers to have read the first one, so I hope this doesn't put people off (another thing to worry about!) but still need to put in the right level of reminders etc. All quite tricky. Congratulations on getting your second one out there :-)

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    1. How exciting to write a trilogy, Georgia. Thanks for stopping by.

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    2. Thanks Wendy though at the moment terrifying might more aptly describe it!! Gx

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  6. Thanks Georgia - well, that could just be me, plenty of people love reading trilogies and serials, don't they? I think serials are more popular than ever. Best of luck with your books!

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    1. Thank you Samantha, and you with yours! Gx

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  7. Thanks for the insight on 'sequel writing' - getting the balance between recapping the previous story and not boring the people who are reading your books back-to-back and making it a standalone...makes my head ache just thinking about the complexities! Can't wait to read From Paris with Love now!

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    1. Thank you for visiting my blog, Jsne. Lovely to see you.

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  8. What a great post - thanks for this, Samantha. It must a delicate balancing act but you seem to have written another great sounding story and I want to read more about the two characters from the first one!

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    1. To have a two book deal and be able to write a sequel must be a writer's dream, Rosemary.

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  9. Thanks so much, Jane and Rosemary! Yes, i really enjoyed the process and getting to know my characters even better. I would definitely do it again.

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  10. Congratulations on your second book and thanks for sharing some of the advantages and disadvantages of writing a sequel.

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  11. Good advice here, Samantha. Look forward to catching up with Gemma and Lord Edward.

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    1. Thanks for your comments Patsy and Kate

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  12. Thanks for an interesting post with some valuable insights. Congratulations on the second novel - I'm so pleased Gemma is back. Hope Abbey gets a mention or two as well.

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    1. Glad you enjoyed Gemma's exploits in Sam's first book, Lindsay.

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  13. Looking forward to reading this one!

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    1. It sounds a great holiday read, Kath.

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  14. Looking forward to reading them both, Sam. I still have the challenge of getting my short stories published and I do love writing them - the world of the novel hasn't beckoned me yet. Congratulations on all your chievements and with the new book xx

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    1. Thanks for your comment, sue. I think the writing world is made up of steps that we climb. You know when you're ready to take the next one.

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  15. Now where did that beastly little 'a' disappear to for heaven's sake!!! A-chievements!!! (Quite like chievements - have I invented a new word!!)

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    1. Ha ha - nothing wrong with making up new words, Sue!

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  16. Hi Samantha, some brilliant advice for which I will bear in mind if ever I get that far. Will look out for your books now, your marketing is working.

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    1. We could all learn a thing or two about marketing from Sam, Linda.

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  17. Thanks very much, both of you :)

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  18. Aw, thanks Sue, and good luck to you!! x

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  19. Lots of really useful advice here. Thank you for sharing.

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