Creating sequels isn’t easy.
I’m working right now on the second story in the series Tales From Sardis County, and it’s become more complicated than I intended. But, that’s okay.
The first Sardis County story, Don’t Come Around Here No More, was pretty simple and straightforward. I had created a place in which magic was real, and the use of which caused consequences.
Now, in the second story, Junior’s Farm, I’ve brought a widow and her teen daughter to Sardis County from the city – the same unnamed city that houses Nicholas Turner and Justice Security – to start her life over on her grandfather’s farm. Her grandfather was known around Sardis County as “Junior” Ballantine. Katie Montgomery grew up on the farm after her parents were killed in an automobile accident, and wants Carol Grace to grow up learning the good things of life. Katie reconnects with several people that still remember that she’s Junior’s granddaughter.
Enter Alan Blake. Alan is a cop from the city. He has just arrested one of Mickey Giambini’s (the primary bad guy from Jackie Blue – A Justice Security Novel) top people, and has to go into hiding in order to stay alive long enough to testify. He also is from Sardis County, even graduated from high school with Katie. Few people know of his connection to Sardis County, so he heads there. Through several coincidences, Alan hides out on Junior’s Farm as Katie’s hired hand. Sparks fly, and romance between the two blossoms.
Katie also finds out that she is descended from the Sardis family. She is shocked by this development, and the results of this connection are spectacular.
The second story in this series has more character development, deeper introductions to the people of Sardis County, and sets the scene for further stories…while the first story was only a walloping adventure, with only a couple of introductions.
As I said, sequels are difficult. You have to continue a series with character development, and they have to be characters the reader cares about. The reader has to get to know these characters in order for the story to be a successful sequel.
Compare the first Justice Security novel, Mama Told Me Not To Come, with its sequels. Someone Saved My Life Tonight is basically the study of one uniformed security guard, and Jackie Blue develops the characters introduced in Mama even more, though the Justice Security group doesn’t appear until the last two-thirds of the book. In Jackie Blue, we learn that Joey has connections in high places, and that he has a huge heart. We learn that Percival “King Louie” Washington shares that big heart. We meet two more uniformed “grunts” – Brandon King and Patty Ferguson – and learn about their characters. The characters of Justice Security are becoming more human and less cartoony. In Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go, we learn more of Louie, and why he sometimes speaks ebonics. We share Misty’s fear and frustration when she can’t get inside the nightclub in which Joey is trapped with a madman. We share Jessica’s desperation as she tries to defend the near-empty Justice Security building against an assassin with “skills”. We learn more about Tony Armstrong, the leader of the uniformed “grunts”, and what he can do. And the Channel 7 reporter, Miriam Apple, is drawn into the violence that sometimes occurs around the Justice Security people.
Now, I’m doing it again, with the Tales Of Sardis County. And I’ll be continuing with Nicholas Turner and Madeline in the upcoming team-up with Justice Security, Hell’s Bells.
Sequels aren’t easy!