A sample text widget

Etiam pulvinar consectetur dolor sed malesuada. Ut convallis euismod dolor nec pretium. Nunc ut tristique massa.

Nam sodales mi vitae dolor ullamcorper et vulputate enim accumsan. Morbi orci magna, tincidunt vitae molestie nec, molestie at mi. Nulla nulla lorem, suscipit in posuere in, interdum non magna.

Sequel, Part Two (HA! SEE WHAT I DID THERE?)

Here is a true thing about Pink Socks. It takes me a long time, but I DO believe I am getting better about matching up the pairs, here into FTK’s old age.

SO before I left for Virginia, I was telling you about how I was writing a FOR TRUE sequel for the first time. But not EXACTLY.

HEY! If you have no idea what I am mattering about, you need to hark back to a blog entry that SHOULD HAVE been named Sequel, Part One. It contains all my reasons for not sequel-ing, ever: CLICK HERE .

After that first entry, I got a note from a GENUINELY delightful human being saying— do not be mad at her, it was her one caveat in a lovely letter—that A GROWN-UP KIND OF PRETTY was the first book of mine she had cracked, and it felt lacking in the goodness, decency, kindness, and brightness she was hoping for, and how relieved she was to hear there would be a sequel…

Oh. Oops. PRETTY stands with BETWEEN, GEORGIA at the most very sweetest kindly end of my writing range. I need to warn her that if she saw no goodness there, no brightness, she should NOT read my other books. She will come to hate me and need therapy. My characters are flawed, sometimes flawed nigh unto death, and they oftentimes cut moral corners…

PRETTY is as gentle as I get, and while I personally think the humor undercuts the blackness and it’s plenty sweet and filled with human goodness, that’s just me. It is entirely possible my standards are low; I WILL take dirty bits of grace from any cesspit where I find them floating.

So, no, sorry. I will not be taking up pen and making things any better than I left them for Dear Big and Dearest Mosey and that godawful horrorshow it was my pleasure to name Liza. I personally thought that particular book’s resolutions were REALLY happy. Decidedly UNtidy, sure, but actively happy. Yes? No?

I am going to leave the Slocumbs there, regardless, as I cannot bear to re-wrecking ball that family. I love them so.

The sequel is for SOMEONE ELSE’S LOVE STORY, which comes out at the tail end of 2013 (THIS VERY YEAR!!!) and it is a QUASI-SEQUEL.

Much like how a minor character named Rose arose from gods in Alabama and refused to shut her pie hole, there was a secondary character in SOMEONE ELSE’S LOVE STORY who will not shut hers. Her name is Paula, and she is in my head an incarnation of the goddess Kali—- six arms, blue skin, a four foot tongue and she will fricken’ kill to win. She is kinda awful. And dangerous. And broken. But Kali is also the great Mother, the nurturer, who stops in mid-slaughter to nurse a crying baby on a battlefield. Where Paula loves, she loves so deeply.

But UNLIKE BACKSEAT SAINTS, this new book is a FOR TRUE sequel in that it takes place in space and time AFTER the events in SOMEONE ELSE’S LOVE STPRY, and I do not see how I can avoid recurring characters. I think it will have spoilers for the first book, as sequels must and do. I feel….displeased by this.

I am SO anal retentive about series books. If I read series at all (and I only follow a few: Laura Lippman, Lee Child, Deanna Raybourn, Connelly’s Bosch Books, etc) I HAVE to read them in order. I would NEVER read ANY book in ANY series out of order, and I am pretty sure that Leviticus SPECIFICALLY PROHIBITS reading series books out of order, proscribing that those who do this abominable thing should be “seized and killed repeatedly with stones.”

That seems… excessive. I don’t want anyone to be killed with stones. Certainly not repeatedly.

Instead, I want my publisher to infuse snapping-teeths into the sequel, SHARP ones that will close over the wrists of readers who try to go out of order and grind at them until they have rightfully read the first one FIRST.

ALAS! I don’t think Morrow uses Bookina Dentata, (really only Scholastic, who published Harry Potter, can properly install them) so I am not sure how I will resolve this. What do you think? Just say THIS IS A SEQUEL READ AT YOUR OWN RISK BUT PLEASE READ THE OTHER ONE FIRST?

Or should I try to NOT spoil for the first one, even though it will require me to FUDGE some things and be a little tricksy and simply not have the other characters from SELS be at ALL present, even though, gah, SOME OF THEM WOULD BE. And I think people who liked SELS would WANT to see them?? But it SPOILS…

I’d be interested to hear your opinion, provided your opinion is not, “Perhaps you should get some therapy and medication to help you with your obvious control issues.” Hee!

34 comments to Sequel, Part Two (HA! SEE WHAT I DID THERE?)

  • Well, as a huge fan who has no intention of waiting until your quasi-sequel comes out simply so I can read that first and then be stoned to death repeatedly, I say that the answer is to write exactly, BUT PRECISELY, the book you want to write. And, not to put it too bluntly, screw anybody who chooses to disregard the kindly warning you can include at the beginning. If they miss out on the nuance (which they surely will) of character that can be so enjoyable when returning to characters you already know, that is their problem, for their therapists. Not yours.

  • Caryn

    I second Aimee. Woe to the person who chooses to disregard Leviticus’ guidance in this area and/or your kindly warning on the sequel. That is their issue. Write your book only the way you want to write it. The rest of us are lucky enough to read them the way you want them and to fall madly in love with them.

  • DebR

    I’m right there with you on the reading-series-in-order thing, but you know some people don’t care about that, right? I know. I KNOW!!! But it’s true. (I personally think those people are fundamentally WRONG somehow and should be probably be deported to their own separate planet in some other galaxy because they probably secretly also eat kittens or something, but hey, that’s just my opinion.)

    Those people aside, I think you should write the book you need to write***, put a “spoiler alert” note in the forward for the smart people who care about reading series books in order but may not yet be familiar with your work, and let the ones who don’t care just not care. Preferably on another planet.

    ***I first wrote that sentence as “right the book you need to right” – is my Freudian slip showing???

  • I say if it feels like a sequel then write it as a sequel. It’ll be your Empire.

  • I sometimes read books in a series out of order (usually because I didn’t realize they were part of a series to begin with. In my haste to get to the words inside the book, I don’t always pay attention to all the words on the cover.). I have never yet been ruinated or even particularly disgruntled about spoilers if the writing and the story are good.

    So yeah, spoil away. I’ll try to read them in order, and if I don’t, I’ll enjoy them anyway.

  • Michelle-Who-Is-Shelley

    First of all, I want to say that I thought AGUKOP was practically overflowing with goodness and brightness — especially in the characters of Big and Mosey. But I HAVE read all of your books. So. And I agree that the humor undercuts the darkness in all of your books, and that is what makes them so wonderfully readable.

    As to the “sequel” book. I am with Aimee and Caryn and DebR. Write the book without any concern for spoilers. I have a friend who wanted to read Backseat Saints, and wouldn’t accept my assurances that reading it would not spoil reading Gods in Alabama. She HAD to read GIA first. Most readers that I know are like this, and the ones that aren’t really don’t care if there are spoilers.

    Also, now I can’t get out of my head the idea of a verse in Leviticus that says that reading books out of order is a good way to get STONED. 🙂

  • HA Shelley, the irony is, given that neither spoils for the other, I actually think it is MORE morally correct to read SAINTS before GODS, because GODS existed when I wrote SAINTS, so I used the opportunity to set up for GODS. Like, reading Saints, you are left with questions that GODS answers, just as if GODS were actually the planned sequel.

    When I wrote gods, I had NO IDEA I would ever write SAINTS, so I could not set up for it.

    The OLD TESTAMENTALLY CORRECT order is therefore SAINTS first, then GODS.

  • Martha

    I, too, prefer to read books in their rightful order. What I don’t appreciate is when I don’t KNOW the order in which they should be read and therefore read them all screwy-louie. Write what is TRUE, but add a little note that says “hey, this is actually a sequel, so read the other one first please”.

    As to “A Grown Up Kind of Pretty” – I thought it was so jam packed with LOVE that it couldn’t HELP being full of goodness. Just my two cents.

  • Brigitte

    For some reason, your own comment above makes me think of the Narnia books. Whenever I reread them, I read the one about the origins of Narnia first, even though it was written later.

    Like that T-shirt that says “I have CDO . . it’s like OCD, but with the letters in the correct order, AS IS PROPER”

  • Ashley

    Ok, I am also one of those people who CANNOT read series-books out of order. I don’t think we have an illness – I think we are linear. And probably prettier than people who read books out of order.

    I think you can just make it clear that this book is a SEQUEL, PART TWO, and then you write it without worrying about spoilers for SELS.

  • Jen the Goddess in Virginia

    I concur with most of the above Best Beloveds – write the book that needs writing, and damn the torpedoes.

  • Jan

    I prefer to read books in order, but there are authors who’ve hooked me with the premise of the third or fourth, and then I’ve gone on to devour their backlist. I think it’s good to have signposts to point people in the direction you’d like them to go, but like your Paula, don’t you want your readers to have the right to be messy, unorthodox and fierce? (Asked rhetorically, because I’m fairly certain which way you’d reply.)

  • stephanie

    i love all your books, but PRETTY was definately one that i looked forward to/dreaded reading the next chapter. that was only because at that time my daughter was a colicky newborn and me a postpartum depression mess. think i cried for an hour reading the scene with young Big and her awful mom in the hallway. have to tell you, i saw the beauty and kindness eventually and when i walked the floor with her and felt frustrated, i reminded myself of all the support we had that others didn’t and that i was fortunate to be able to comfort my baby and would never want her suffering without me,despite my want to escape.it helped keep me there, and we made it through together!

  • Jessica (the celt)

    I’m the wrong person to ask. I seek out spoilers all the time. I don’t care if I know the ending of a book or a movie, because it just makes me want to read it that much more to see how the characters got where they ended up. (Am I odd in that?)

    That said, write the book that is begging to be written, spoilers and all. I always read books in order anyway (and if I accidentally devour a later one too early, I just go back and start where I should’ve). I love when a book has characters from an author’s previous book in it, so I’m being self-serving (without even knowing these guys yet) by asking you to please give us more of whichever characters need more time in the spotlight.

    (I saw a megaton of hope and light and yearning in Pretty. I didn’t see any rainbows, unicorns, or bluebirds, but Jackson-pretty is not Disney-pretty, and I prefer Jackson-pretty any day. My husband just called it “reality-pretty.” So. There you go.)

  • I am choking on the perceived lack of decency, goodness and kindness. Choking. You forbade being mad at her, so I shall instead lean back in my chair, press my fingertips to my chest and say, “Oh my! You THINK so? My, my, my.”
    My lips, they are pressed.

  • I have the answer. Have them print it in a special ink that requires special decoding glasses to read. These glasses can only be found attached to the inside cover of the FIRST book…

  • edj

    It will be ok. All shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well. The world will not grind to a halt if someone reads a sequel out of order–in fact, they will as soon as possible remedy the situation, buy both books, wait a year, and then reread them both in the proper order. It’ll all work out. Deep breath! Write away! Can’t wait!

  • Something about this post keeps bringing me back to reread it and to keep up with the comments. I just figured out what it is: I like that you care so much. I like that you want your readers to know your characters in the way you intended and that the story not be spoiled by knowing the wrong things first. Personally, I try to read an author’s books in the order they were written, whether or not they are sequels, because writers change over time as we all do. It’s like starting at the beginning of everyone’s story.

  • Therese

    Is it too late to add a subtitle (“Sequel, Part 1”) to SELS, and then include the necessary (and obvious) subtitle for the next book (“Sequel, Part 2”)? I mean, if SELS is still in galleys you could do that, right? Theoretically, anyway.

    Then again, your novelist voice is elegant, your prose polished and deftly plotted, so I’m not sure a quirky subtitle would “fit,” you know?
    So, yeah, maybe a note in the foreward, maybe a plea on the jacket flap/back cover? And then a stern notice to book sellers that if they’re going to carry the second one, they darn well better keep both books in stock, so new readers can ALWAYS buy and read them in the correct order!

    Personally I hate it when a bookstore only has Book 3 and 5 in a series that I’ve not read. Fiction is always an impulse buy for me, and if I pick up a book that looks interesting but I realize it’s later in a series, I look for the start of the series. I won’t buy the book I’ve just found if I can’t get the previous volume(s) because I don’t want to jump in at the middle. I want to read the whole thing!

    I could go on & on & on about the many, many series I’ve read, where I started with them, which ones needed to be read in order and which not (because not all do)…but I won’t. You are welcome.

  • Tanya

    I saw Titanic. I was born in 1974 and really, I knew the darn ship sank. I read Lee Child out of order because, you know, I can never really remember how he ended up on this highway with his nose broken and only duct tape holding it in barely-place. I read Divinci Code and then, months later, read Angels and Demons. I have lived to tell about it. My husband read 11 Robert Jordan books, in order, all 10,000 pages later, he was REMISS to discover the (insert bad word here) had DIED. DIED.
    Yes, yes, I may be going to hell. I am OK with this.
    Write the book you need to write. If you leave me hanging at the end of it, please refrain from dying until sequel is written AND published.
    Delete hatemail later. I’ll have a martini waiting for you in hell, honey.

  • I hope this does not end our friendship (virtual though it may be) when I tell you that although I PREFER to read books in the order in which they were written in a sequel–it does not spoil my love for the characters to not to, Mater. Seriously. Most people, if they are of your lovely, smart, Orderly-Reading-of-Series ilk, would rather die than read the sequel to SELS first and will make it their life’s goal TO read SELS first. Not only that, but I’m pretty sure that even though your publishing house cannot attach working fangs to your book (which would spoil the cover art ANYWAY), they can put a rawther LARGE banner on the front that reads “SEQUEL TO NYT BEST SELLING NOVEL SOMEONE ELSE’S LOVE STORY.” It’s time for some tough love. Write the book. Write the spoilers for book one in book two. Treat those spoilers like the love scenes in Between and the one you finally gave poor, neglected Big in AGUKUP, and just do it, girl. The rest of us who know and love your characters will be SO, SO, SO glad to see them again. And you KNOW that we are the ones who really, truly count.*preen* (This comment is spoiler free I hope.)

  • AND, as far as goodness and kindess and love and pretty, pink, sparkly confetti endings go–AGUKUP has that in spades. You might get a piece of the glittery confetti stuck in your eye and have to go to the ophthalmologist for removal necessitating a big ‘ole eye-patch while things heal and what-not, but the scene I made reference to in a comment one time–the one I referred to enough that it WAS deemed a spoiler–a scene between Mosey and Roger?–that is some redemption right there. It shows the power of ONE–AND the power of friends. Good Stuff.

  • I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Sharon’s comment up there. . .AND
    While I was typing these comment, I was also helping with math homework–after I taught all day. . .so I have NOW misspelled AGUKoP not once but TWICE. And THAT bothers ME as I should know better.

  • Fran

    Write the book you want to write, Sweetie. If there be spoilers, damn the torpedos. Just do it. Trust your readers. We trust you (and let me tell you, during BETWEEN, GEORGIA I was muttering, “trust Joss, trust her trust her trust her!”), and as a bookseller, I’ll do my darnest to be sure people read these two in order.

    You just write the best book you can. The rest will take care of itself.

  • Well, if you wrote faster, it might be a problem, but by now, I have forgotten the details, just remembering scenes and how much I love your writing. And I started out reading scifi, where things seldom make sense at first anyway, so write the best book you can, and I will love it to death, and if I have to go back and reread your other books, I will just get a lot of chocolate and do that!!!
    But you could still write faster – all this waiting till next year for your next book is hard on a girl…

  • Margaret

    I read the Lord Peter/Harriet Vane books out of order and rather enjoyed seeing a later character walk onto the pages for the first time, all the time knowing what role s/he would play in their later adventures before they themselves did.

  • Jess

    I just want to say that I LOVE ALL of your books. Now, series books are to be read in order, that’s how they tell their stories, most of the time. Also, I agree with a lot of what everyone else has said. Write what you want, you’re the author, and we just the humble people blessed enough to be able to read your stories.

  • TC

    Dude. The spoilers ARE the Bookina Dentata. And anyone who reads out of turn will be bitten by them. As they should.

    Write on! Write like the wind!

  • All I can say is, I can tell you’re still fighting the EvilMucusoid, because I had EXACTLY the same Evil illness at EXACTLY the same time as you (I think we might have infected each other via bookclub and internet) and since I’m still leaking profusely I can tell you are still on Dayquil too.
    No, I would never read a sequel out of order either. Rose isn’t going to let you go without writing her sequel story, so get busy!!

  • Kirsten

    Whenever I find a book I want to read, I go to the author’s website to MAKE SURE it isn’t part of a series. If it is, then I only will start with the FIRST book and read them in order. Often, I will try to read an author’s books in the order the were written even if they are NOT part of a series, just so I can ride along with the progression of skill/style that the author experienced while writing. I am usually a carefree “la-la-la” type of personality. so this books-in-order compulsion is an anomoly in my life. (However, I did not read your books in order, because they were so amazing I just grabbed them in whatever order I could get my hands on them, and DEVOURED them like a starving man at a Stuckey’s buffet!)
    Based on the other replies here, there are many people who read books out of order, and DO NOT SEEM TO MIND! I admire-and am a little jealous of-their carefree approach. Write what you want (you’ve never disappointed us) and let each reader be responsible for their own experience.

  • Margaret

    My niece is 12 and gave me one of her YA series books to read. I asked, “Is this the first one?” I wish I could draw a picture of the, “what are you KIDDING me? Of course it is the first book! Giving you a book that is NOT the first would be like poison, and I would not poison you, my dearest Aunt!” face that she gave me. We are a “Readers of Books in the Proper Order” kind of family.

    That said, I would not want you to censor or silence any part of the sequel to accommodate me or anyone else. We have all lived through the occasional mis-step of reading out of order.

    As for the letter writer who did not find the kindness and goodness in GUKOP…you have forbidden anger, so I will simply say, “Bless her heart.”

  • Margaret

    Did you close the comments re: the search for a NBF? I live about 20 minutes from Decatur, and I would gladly get HBO and you and my sister could come over on Sunday evenings to watch GoT. I would need to catch up, but it can be done. (Does AKW of “Stranger You Seek” watch GoT? I am thinking yes, but could be mistaken.)

  • SillyMe

    @Tanya, WHAT? Who died?

  • Here is my favorite quote from this post: I WILL take dirty bits of grace from any cesspit where I find them floating.

    Me too, me too!