When I published The City of Darkness last year (Amazon|Kobo), I was full of anxiety. Lots and lots of excitement, but also anxiety. Why? Because it was my first crack at a sequel. And you know what they say about sequels, right? That they’re never as good as the original. As an author, I was (am!) really concerned about both creating a great story and pleasing my audience. I want to write satisfying stories—and when necessary, satisfying sequels.
I suppose there’s probably a point in time when an author becomes so successful and/or confident in their creative vision that they no longer stress out about this. Or perhaps not. Nonetheless, in many long-running series, fans start to sense that the author is treading water in the middle of their book runs. In my case, my Watchers Chronicle will only be three novels, so this effect isn’t going to have the opportunity to set in.
But if my anxiety was high over The City of Darkness, it’s even higher over my current project, The Law of Radiance—the third book and series finale. I badly want to create a satisfying conclusion. My current readers haven’t seen any non-Chronicle titles from me yet, so this is going to be their first taste of how I wrap up a long, continuing story—something I plan to do a lot of in my writing career, as I’m a huge fan of long-running series.
Finishing any novel is difficult, but finishing a trilogy, I’m discovering, is a cut above. The Law of Radiance has to tell its own contained story, and every aspect of it needs to have a narrative payoff, like all good novels. But it also has to explore a lot of themes established in the previous two volumes. And, of course, there are a lot of dangling threads here and there in those first books that now have to be wrapped up. It’s amazing how many little plot and character details start to slip out of mind four years into a project. There’s a lot to keep track of.
It doesn’t help that I’m three or four months behind schedule, but I can live with the slight delay—and hopefully my readers can, too—because I won’t have another chance to finish a series for the first time. I have to get this right. Or at least as right as I’m capable of getting it at my current level of skill. Twenty or thirty years from now, when I’m a much more accomplished and sophisticated storyteller, I might look back at this book and shake my head at all the ways I could have written it better. That’s a scary thought! Talk about fear and loathing; my greatest anxiety probably comes from comparing myself to the Evan Braun of the future.
But I’m getting off-topic.
The good news is that despite the pressure I’ve put on myself, I’m proud of the way the work is going so far. You might even use the word “satisfied.” I can only trust that my own level of satisfaction in this book will be shared by the general public when the time comes. And I can hardly wait to find out.