Thursday, 26 March 2009
The Next Book Syndrome
This is really in response to Matt's latest blog entry at "Muskets and Monsters". I wanted to share my comments with everyone. I have been keenly following news on the second and subsequent book contracts with MNW and Pan Macmillan. The highs and lows have been shared on this blog. I have a lot of admiration for the discipline that Matt brings to his writing. He is already working on the Secret War series, and I am certain they will go a long way.
I find the writing of sequels really difficult. I can understand crime fiction with a central investigating character, but why should the same parameter work for other genres? Do readers look for continuity? I am ill at ease with the idea of a brand name. Is this a marketing strategy? But what if the author is inspired to write differently? I guess Matt wrote the Dark Hours because his imaginative trajectory was taking him in certain directions, and surely readers who will pick up his book because they liked what they had read earlier, will connect with the "similarities" and "differences" in his new work. I dare say they will like the "differences" more.
My creative phase takes me in different directions. I wrote a bunch of eclectic short stories while writing my academic book for Palgrave. I did this partly because I had less time for fiction. But it was also because my research on oral narratives made my ideas explosive, seeking short, concentrated forms of expression. What connected my work was something far more insidious than writing for a series. My editor at Picador could see the connect, and she told me that she was fascinated by this particular "phase" of writing. She even said she wants to read my academic book now! A big thank you!
I need to know: How do we plan out our next book? Do we write with the Imprint in mind? How do authors deal with a contrary creative impulse? Which is the common meeting ground for marketing and creative strategies? Do readers look for brand names? Are these creative consraints faced by all published authors?