During my annual Mother’s Day call to home (before you ask: yes, I do call my parents more often than holidays and birthdays) my dear Mom said something that really threw me for a loop.
At the urging of my brother and I, Dad gave Mom a Kindle Fire for Christmas, and she’s slowly coming around to the idea of using it as an eReader. So I sent along a copy of Carpthia, but honestly thought she’d look at the cover, see it was written by me, maybe glance at the Prologue and then stop.
To be sure she’d comment on it, say the typical Mom things about being impressed and proud of her son. But read it? Nah, not really her cup of tea.
Wrong. She not only read it, she read it closely and after telling me she enjoyed Carpathia, Mom asked some very in-depth questions: about my research, why the characters did certain things, how I came to decide what would happen, etc., etc. I gave her answers, we discussed it some more and then she dropped the bombshell.
Mom said: “The ending set up a sequel perfectly, too.”
“Oh, really?” I choked out after shooting some coffee through my nose.
I tried to explain to her that I didn’t want to write a sequel, but was considering setting my next story in the Carpathia universe I created but with mostly different characters, maybe a few cameos from the first book.
Her response: “which characters” from Carpathia would be in the next book? She had some specific ideas about who should/shouldn’t make an appearance, and then she told me: “All the books today that make big money are series with the same people, like that Twilight and Harry Potter. You need to keep that in mind.”
More coffee to clean up.
As I was searching for a rag or sponge, I said “Oh, Mom. I’m not going to be making any money at this, but thanks for your concern.”
What I didn’t tell her is I’m already 16,000 words into that next story.
* * * *
My conversation with Mom mirrors one that I’ve had with a few people, and it reflects a trend I noticed almost as soon as I dipped my toe into the Indie Author movement.
There are a lot of series out there.
When I was writing Carpathia my daughter jokingly asked if I had come up with a suitable cliffhanger that would carry me into the second book of the trilogy. I told her I wasn’t interested in doing a trilogy, or series, and I was trying to write Carpathia as a self-contained story.
Of course I have nothing against trilogies or series. I loved reading the “Horatio Hornblower” books by C.S. Forester and more recently have greatly enjoyed the In Her Name: Redemption books by Michael Hicks (@KreelanWarrior) and the Blood Skies books of Stephen Montano (@Daezarkian). I greatly admire the work of both of these Indies, and frankly if I had created a universe as rich and varied as Mr. Montano’s I’d want to play a lot in it, too!
But even though I didn’t set out to write the first book of a series, I tried to include a few (I hoped) tantalizing references to things that happen before the events of Carpathia. I did this to add some mystery to the story, to maybe get the reader wondering about the characters and their lives before hitting the road in Romania.
So how did I come to the decision to set my next novel in the same universe and with some of the same characters? It just …. kinda … happened.
I had some ideas about what I wanted for the next story, some plot points. Set during an alternate-history World War I, it hit me that the “rules” I created for Carpathia, the way technology developed with airships and “self-propelled ground vehicles” would work very well.
Then I realized if I was going to use the rules of Carpathia, I could probably find a place for a few of the original characters, who would be quite old by 1915, to make a brief appearance. That seemed like it would be a lot of fun, and a bit of a treat for anyone who read Carpathia.
Then it hit me two of the characters from Carpathia had a child, and the child would be the perfect age for adventuring through wartime Europe. And just like that, a sequel of sorts was hatched.
I hope it will be in the same vein as Carpathia — Action! Steampunkish elements! Undead creatures! — and there are certainly connections between the two stories. But, the reader of one need not read the other. I mean, I hope they will want to read both (and evidently my Mom does, too!) but my intention is for the two stories to stand on their own.
Sixteen thousand words as of today; my hope is to have it available for sale this Fall. The working title is Dead Man’s Land, which is a play off the World War I term “no man’s land” meaning the area between two opposing trench lines.
Further progress reports as the situation warrants.