The Werewolf Whisperer Part Deux — Writing a Sequel…and Lunch
By Camilla Ochlan and Bonita Gutierrez
We’re very excited to be back posting on Women of Badassery. When last we blogged “The Werewolf Whisperer — Workshopping, Writing and Lunch,” we were in the thick of writing The Alpha & Omega, the sequel to our urban fantasy The Werewolf Whisperer. Well, we’ve finished it and are prepping for an October 17th release!
So to celebrate, we thought we’d discuss what it was like for us to write a sequel — the anticipation and anxiety that writers feel when creating a follow-up novel.
The Werewolf Whisperer grew out of the seeds of a twelve episode web series. Even before starting book one, we had enough material for several books. Since the beginning we’ve known the whole story in broad strokes, and we’ve laid out the big arcs for each novel. The added challenge with The Werewolf Whisperer was the dual timelines, past and present, which we presented in alternating chapters. Continuing that structure in the sequel, we had to go back to the beginning.
The Alpha & Omega was in some ways easier to write than book one because we know Lucy and Xochi so well now that streamlining the chapters into a cohesive voice was instinctual. We didn’t have a lot of instances where one of us would say, “I don’t think Lucy would say that” or “I don’t think Xochi would do that.” We just know.
On the flip side, writing a sequel is more challenging by its very nature. You have a tremendous amount of freedom as a novelist. At first. But once you tell the story, some parts cannot be changed. They are like Doctor Who’s fixed points in the space-time continuum — written in stone. And there are consequences to the characters’ actions from the previous book.
The sequel is a continuation, but you can’t write the same book again. You want to move things forward. Deepen the story. Answer questions and raise new ones. You want to match the structure and tone of the first book while allowing the characters to grow and change organically
Another consideration is whether or not readers will have read book one before picking up book two. It isn’t unheard of for readers to start a series completely out of order and still enjoy it. So, the challenge is to balance giving enough information to a new reader without giving too much backstory.
And then there’s the responsibility to the reader who has been along for the ride from the beginning. We work hard to earn every twist and turn and new development. Nothing in the story is random. We have a plan.
That being said, as we were writing the sequel, we had to develop strong discipline and keep our work habits very flexible. We’ve each had some upheaval in our lives, and sometimes just getting a chance to work together for a few uninterrupted hours was epic. We’ve ended up FaceTiming each other while sitting in the car because it’s raining and there’s nowhere else to go. We managed to complete The Alpha & Omega while struggling through month-long moves, nursing sick dogs, pneumonia, sports injuries, insomnia, narcolepsy, film shoots, family vacations, devastatingly slow internet service and those first two intense months of raising a brand-new puppy. The real-life stuff that can so easily derail the best of intentions. But we learned to not beat ourselves up. We just order lunch, push forward and continue writing.
And now, we’ll release The Alpha & Omega on the 17th. Then it’s on to book three.
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