Sequelitis

by stephenpalmersf

A few of my author friends have recently been discussing the wisdom of Margaret Attwood writing a sequel to her wonderful, famous and very important novel The Handmaid’s Tale. I suppose even for an author as successful as Attwood there is always sequel temptation, particularly given the popularity and critical success of the televised version. Attwood says she wrote the book because of what her fans were saying in response to the tv series, but I can’t help thinking that a sequel is unwise. I’m on record as saying: ‘write for your readers, but never for your fans.’

George RR Martin has a similar problem with his never-appearing final volume of A Game Of Thrones. Basically, he has imprisoned himself. Not a great place for an author to be. I have written a trilogy, but I’d never write a series. Book series are the literary equivalent of prison cells. I’m not keen on series any way, nor books that endlessly explore the same world. For all the brilliance, wit and humanity of Terry Pratchett, I bailed out of Discworld around the eighth novel. I like my authors to explore a wide variety of characters and worlds.

Would I write a sequel to any of my works? Well, I have been tempted, but…

Memory Seed/Glass/Flowercrash: No. This was never set up as a trilogy, but it is a trilogy of theme, with characters that go from book to book. As I’ve written elsewhere, I’ve long felt the temptation to return to the Memory Seed world, but since being asked by Ian Whates to do the Tales From The Spired Inn collection I think that temptation has departed.

Muezzinland: No. For a while I wondered what might happen to Princess Mnada after her stroke, but there’s no pull back to her or her world.

Hallucinating: No. It was a fun one-off.

The Rat & The Serpent: No. For a while I had ideas for a kind of alternate vampire/Romania novel, but the inspiration for it passed pretty quickly.

Urbis Morpheos: No. It’s done.

Hairy London: No. I did write a sequel in fact, following Sheremy and Juinefere in an alternate WW2 setting, but it was a poor novel. Hairy London won’t be repeated or followed up, not least because it was written off the top of my head, with only the barest essentials of plot – a risky thing to do. It was enormous fun to write, but I’ve kind of been-there-done-that…

Beautiful Intelligence/No Grave For A Fox: Highly unlikely. It is an interesting world, with relevance to where our real (digital/AI) world is going, but it’s probably best not to write any more, particularly as I tied Muezzinland in to the end of No Grave For A Fox.

The Girl With Two Souls/The Girl With One Friend/The Girl With No Soul: Yes. Once I’d written the trilogy, I realised there was more to discover about Erasmus, so I have written an additional novel, The Conscientious Objector, set in 1914 and following Erasmus’ experiences in WW1. It remains unpublished however because, although the Factory Girl trilogy did very well critically and artistically, sales were average at best.

Tommy Catkins: No. No need.

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