Perhaps I should have titled this “The Plan that went awry”.
So, when I started writing the book which became Ashes, Ashes, I went pretty deep into my characters’ back stories- in particular Grammalie Rose, Aidan, Sammy and Del’s pasts. I wrote down copious notes and imagined many different scenarios for why they all were the way they were. Back story is important. I knew my characters so I knew how they would talk and interact, what their failings and triggers were. They felt alive to me
But Lucy was always my focus. It was important to me that AA be Lucy’s story and I didn’t want anyone else to steal her limelight. I wanted her decisions to be her own and even though she falls in love with Aidan despite herself I didn’t want her to lose herself in him. It’s rare that an adventure story features a heroine prominently. I read an article recently that suggested that Hermione was the real hero of the Harry Potter books and my reaction (though I love those books) was “Yeah, why the hell wasn’t she?”
So all those back stories served to inform my characters but otherwise none of that extra stuff made an appearance in the book.
It was always my plan to write a companion book (Pocketful of Posies) which told the story of the pandemic and subsequent events from Aidan’s point of view and incorporated Sammy and Del’s stories as well.
Oh yes, Del knew Aidan and Sammy prior to the founding of the settlement. And a lot of the reasons that she is the way she is (bitchy, proprietary) are due to her upbringing and how she first met Sammy and Aidan.
I outlined the hell out of it, wrote the first few chapters. I could visualize how everything unfolded, the parts that overlapped with AA, those that didn’t. It was going to be epic.
But alas, the best laid plans…
As of right now (and really I am fooling myself to think that this will change) Pocketful will never see the light of day. It is a hard thing for a writer to bear because we love our books. They are our babies.
I’ve written 2.9 books since I plotted Pocketful and still that book echoes with me. I have thought of writing it anyway just for the pleasure of it, but other stories- to- be told- which- may- actually- sell- to- a- publisher take precedent. Maybe I’ll have a free year someday and I can work on it then.
I know that the big trilogy deals always get a lot of notice. It’s weird how I felt comfortable writing 2 books set in the same world but not 3… But in fact, my situation is the more common. Just because one book sells, doesn’t mean a sequel, prequel, companion will sell also. Maybe the publisher is looking for stand-alones. Maybe your agent didn’t push hard enough. Maybe you, the writer, didn’t clarify your demands or your expectations. There are so many variables involved in the publishing world, and as writers we don’t have a lot of control over them, which is why I say- Educate yourself to what is out there, Take a good hard look at your story idea, Ask yourself is it unique, different, does it have a hook or a unusual perspective?, and then go Write your ass off.