Popular author Nancy Holland takes over Get Lost in a Story today, with insights about her new release "Felyn's Curse," book two in her Witch King trilogy from Tule Publishing. Let's give her a hearty GLIAS welcome!
I went to a workshop at RWA several years ago where the speaker said the second book in a series has to be the best because it sends people back to the first book and makes them want to read the third. Other people have said that the first book is most important because it makes people want to buy the rest, or that the last one is most important because it makes them want to buy more of your books. What I learned from writing Felyn’s Curse, the second book in my Witch King trilogy, is that, as usual, it’s more complicated than that.
My primary goal when I wrote Felyn’s Curse was to avoid “sophomore slump,” the phenomenon where someone’s second year of college, season in the majors, work of art, etc., falls far below the standard set by the first. Thalgor’s Witch was such a powerful book I knew that its sequel needed to be something special, too. I approached that challenge in three main ways.
The first was a response to the one negative comment I got pretty consistently on Thalgor’s Witch -- the main characters weren’t very likeable. I actually agree, but Thalgor and Erwyn were strong and made a definite impact on readers. So, one thing I did in the second book was to try to make Felyn likeable without making her weak. (Her hero, Varz, takes longer to grow on people).
I knew all along another thing I had to do with Felyn’s Curse was to use everything I’d learned about writing since I started Thalgor’s Witch. The story is more coherent; there is a clear villain; and when Felyn saves Varz, it comes at great personal risk. The third thing was harder. Could I bring the same passion to a book that was not “the book of my heart?” To help accomplish that, I wrote about a third of Felyn’s Curse in one week!
So, what did I learn from writing my sophomore fantasy romance? It all comes down to a cliché, I’m afraid -- every book has to be the best book you can make it. The only difference with a second book in a series is that it also carries with it the baggage of readers’ specific experience of the first one. I just finished revisions on third book in the trilogy and, believe me, that baggage only gets heavier.
PS--If reviews say the first book was better, expect to sell lots of copies of that one. A win-win!
Read an excerpt from "Felyn's Curse":
Her knees softened as she leaned into him. Never had kissing a woman brought him so close to the edge of reason. The intensity of it, witch blood to witch, staggered him. This woman was his, and he lowered his hand to cup the roundness below her waist, ready to claim her.
But he couldn’t. Too much stood between them. He might never deserve the bliss of loving the woman in his arms, but he certainly didn’t deserve it now.
He forced himself to stop, step by agonizing step so she would not take his withdrawal as a rejection. He brought his hands back to her waist, loosed his hold on her, then regretfully lifted his head.
She frowned slightly, but didn’t protest as he pushed her gently away.
“We can’t,” he managed to choke out as he fought for control. “Not here, not now.”
She blinked again in the same sleepy way. She smiled at him, and he was lost.
Felyn looked up at Varz in wonder. What was this strange magic between them? She felt alive in a way she never had before. Her body felt heavy, yet her mind was light, dancing on the wonder of the unfamiliar marvels Varz’s kiss revealed. She felt strangely complete and yet wanted, yearned for something she could not quite imagine.
He smiled back at her, almost shy. The crown of flowers was slightly askew and one long strand of black hair hung in his face. He looked like no more than a boy. He looked like. . .
“Li!” Her heart felt as if he had cut it from her body. “You are Li’s father.”
If you're interested in the first book in the Witch King series, check out "Thalgor's Witch" also available at all online retailers!
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