I’m excited to have Samantha Bryant in the Storage Room today. Samantha and I have been writer friends for several years now and it has been a joy to watch her hard work and dedication come to fruition. I read sections of the first drafts of her Menopausal Superheroes series and was charmed by her characters from the get-go. Now, book 2 in the series is out! I am so happy for her and not surprised the series has been such a success. Samantha takes the superhero genre and gives it a whole new facet – mid-life women. Well, without any further ado, here’s Samantha.
When I started writing my Menopausal Superheroes series, I had no idea it was a series. I thought I was writing a book. You know, just the one.
But as I wrote, I had too many ideas for one book. Side streets I wanted to explore. Other adventures I wanted to take the women on. Especially given my subject matter (superheroes), it was clearly a story that lent itself to a series.
Now that book two is out and my superhero women have made some appearances in novellas and side stories, I feel like I’m getting the hang of this. Good thing, because I’m halfway through writing book three and it looks like these superheroes aren’t done with me yet.
So, a few thoughts on writing sequels, three-quels, and series:
The Devil is in the Details:
I wasn’t very far into book two when I realized that the details were going to be the death of me. When you write–or at least when I write, pantser that I am–you make stuff up. Obviously, right?
But when you’re going to keep going longer term with a set of characters, the little details that just came to you in the moment become important. You need to remember how old the character’s children are, when she was in that accident, why she moved to the city. All those details that seemed like they were just flavor when you threw them out there become part of your continuity.
I quickly found a need to create a Bible for myself: biographies, timelines, family trees. If I could go back in time, I’d coach my earlier self to keep more thorough notes as she wrote. But then again, who knows? Maybe in having to go back and read my own book carefully for those details, I planted the seeds that became the second book.
Balancing Old and New:
A sequel is a tricky critter. It needs to please both first time readers who missed your first book and return readers who liked that first book. It needs to recapture some of what made the initial book what it was without just being a rehash. It’s like getting married. You need something old and something new.
I had a main cast of five main characters in book one, four of whom were point of view characters. I really enjoyed moving from perspective to perspective across chapters and wanted to continue that in book two, but I also wanted and needed to introduce some new characters. So, for me, that meant deciding who would stay silent in this book or be pushed to the background a bit. It was difficult, but I got there, promising myself I could get back to those perspectives in a future book.
Old Friends are the Best
I love all my imaginary friends. Sometimes I hate to end a book or story I’m working on because I won’t get to play with that character anymore. A great thing about writing a series is that you get to come back and visit with your old friends again, and learn even more about them and what makes them tick.
Of course, you also have to put them in peril and throw obstacles in their way, and that can be difficult to do to old friends. But that’s what writers do, sadists that we are: make up people and torture them.
So, I didn’t set out to write a series, but now I’m so glad I am. It’s a whole different ballgame than writing a stand-alone book, but it’s exciting to realize that you can play a really long con, setting up trouble in one book that doesn’t come to fruition until later down the road. It’s fun discovering the seeds my subconscious planted in the story and then watering them until they grow into a whole plot of their own. It’s quite a ride and I’m holding on as long as I can.
Samantha Bryant is a middle school Spanish teacher by day, and a novelist by night, which makes her a superhero all the time. She’s the author of the Menopausal Superhero series. Book 2: Change of Life, just released April 21, 2016 (but you should read book 1 first). You can find her on Twitter @mirymom1, on Facebook at http://facebook.com/samanthadunawaybryant or on her website/blog http://samanthabryant.com
Blurb for Change of Life:
With great power comes…great frustration.
Several months after the events of Going Through the Change, retired corporate vice president (and occasional lizard-woman) Patricia O’Neill is embroiled in a search for the mad scientist who brought the “change” upon them all.
Meanwhile, Flygirl Jessica Roark and gender-bending strongman Linda/Leonel Alvarez have joined a mysterious covert agency known only as The Department. They’re training hard, in hopes of using their newfound powers for the greater good.
Patricia thinks they’re being used. Cut off from the other menopausal heroes, she’s alone. And her search has hit a serious dead end.
Then Patricia disappears, and all the clues point to a dead man. It’s up to her friends and The Department to find her and bring her home.