Your Second Book
Or, my second book, at any rate.
I started writing my first book, Judging Angels, for myself. It's about things in my psyche and has a large dose of crime and law, because my career was as a criminal defense lawyer.
After many rewrites, it became less about me. When I just wanted to get it the Hell done with and to the publisher, I had exorcised even more of my own ghost from it. The whole process was cathartic and therapeutic for me.
Which is good, because, of course, you don't give a damn about me.
One reviewer recently wrote "Mr. Capps obviously has a 'thing' for red hair." Granted, that was based on a running joke on my St. Corbininan's Bear's Ephemeris, a Curious Entertainment for Discriminating Catholic Ladies and Gentlemen. Even so, now I look at the bare feet prominently displayed on the cover of Judging Angels and wonder what conclusions people are drawing from that. (They are very attractive feet, however, as I am now noticing.)
The truth is, it was sheer psychic pressure that got me through my first novel, in all its forms. Realizing that, and making my corrupted, fetishistic psyche a good servant, rather than a master, was a turning point.
So now, there's Second Novel. The poor dear doesn't even have a name, yet, but it is such a problem child. Readers of Judging Angels who are rightfully expecting a sequel will understand some of the problems I caused for myself sequel-wise.
You would think the first-time published author would view himself as a literary colossus astride Amazon. He or she did it. Wrote it, finished it, published it, got reviews, and even sold a few books.
Oh, no. Things are worse than ever. Now, I have fewer things I want to say, to be honest (not necessarily a bad thing). I do not have the same level of reflection and eloquence available to me, if you know what I mean, wink wink. (You won't, unless you've read Judging Angels.) The old conflicts are gone. In short, I have to think hard and make stuff up, and write when I don't feel like it.
I have to do what has suddenly become a job like writing an appellate brief. And there is about the same level of inspiration. I used to take that for granted. Now it's something I have to think about.
Judging Angels is a cozy family urban fantasy crime thriller that might have the tagline, "The family that slays together stays together," except even that ultimate bonding experience does not seem sufficient for some dysfunctional families.
The second is a different kind of novel. One huge difference is that the cast is larger and what was a minor, quirky setting in Judging Angels is a full-fledged world in its own right in Book 2. It pulls back and shows much more about what was only hinted at in Judging Angels. It is more of a straight urban fantasy, although still dealing with serious (but different) themes.
I am assuming people want to read about any characters who may have survived the first book, so little people are going to have to find bigger roles to play in the wider drama while remaining true to their characters. Also, they have come through the trauma of the first book and that will have changed them. How? Where does the continuity lie?
Old characters face some tough competition in interesting new characters. Even so, I need the original characters to truly partner with the new ones, not get submerged by them.
After I nuked the first draft, I decided to make Book 2 a stand-alone read, after all. It is clearly a sequel, but I think it is important for a reader to be able to pick up any book in the series have have a novel complete in itself. Then, if they want to, they can pick up Book 1 and learn how certain character got into the mess they are in now.
I suspect it comes down the four-letter word "work." It isn't a 3000-word-a-day joyride anymore, laughing all the way. It's a lot of frowning at my computer screen and wasting time on stuff like this while wondering what I need to really get Book 2 off the launch pad.