‘So, what do we all think about sequels?’ I asked last Tuesday at our monthly Anti-Doubt Crow writers group. It’s something I’ve been mulling over since the RNA Conference back in July (which I have yet to blog about *slaps wrist*). It was the main message I took home from my brief day trip to conference. In her entertaining talk on how to get published, Hazel Cushion from Access Press rammed home the message that a new writer with a sequence of novels was a more attractive prospect to a publisher.
The consensus around the table of my fellow Anti-Doubters was that sequels are certainly popular at the moment and therefore that was what I agreed to get plotting. Not that it needed much persuasion. I love my first novel, Heart in the Right Place, and although I’ve been quite happy ensconced in the equestrian world of my current wip (biting nails as I await its return from the RNA NWS) my mind does keep wondering to what my heroine, Lottie, of HITRP is up to in her world of property and what muddles she’s got herself into now.
And it appears my decision to return to Lottie and the village of Clunderton in Yorkshire is well timed.
‘Whaaaa’ came the facebook mesage from Alison May (my long-term writing friend, general writing agony aunt and Choc Lit Author).
‘Whaaaaaat?’ my reply.
‘The Choc Lit Search for a Star Shortlist is out and there’s this writer on the list, someone called Lisa Hill with Heart in the Right Place.’
Ohhhhhhhh my goodness!
Yes, it’s true and two days later I still can’t believe it. All those hours and hours of writing, re-writing (I re-wrote the entire novel after attending a writers retreat), copious amounts of post-it notes and tweaking characters has finally paid off. I might not win but I don’t care, this is acknowledgement enough for me that the last seven years of learning my craft have not been in vain and although I love writing for so many reasons maybe, just maybe, I might make a career out of it now.
Which brings me to another quandary; back to that sequel. Heart in the Right Place has a hero called Tom Thorpe. A man who was inspired by my teenage crush, alright minor obsession continued into adulthood, with Sean Bean. He will certainly feature in a sequel. What’s the problem with that, I hear you ask? I renounced him when I got married last year. He was threatened by new hero, Mr Hill, to be relegated to the downstairs toilet and I couldn’t have that. So I had to re-home him and to understand my reasons why, I’ve dug out my wedding speech (edited as I don’t want you to bore you all to sleep)…
As some of you will know I have worked in property for eternity in the hope that one day someone recognises my potential to be the next Kirstie Allsopp and if it wasn’t for my career I would never have met Matt.
But as many of you know there is an aspiring side of me that would like to leave behind the world of property one day and be a fully published, grown-up author, like some of my friends here today. My writing over the past few years has also provided me with some very good friends. Alison, now a published novelist. Not only is she inspirational in a literary capacity but quite often she is good at giving me the ‘talking to’ I need, be it about my writing, or otherwise.
Then there’s the tremendous Kate who likes to talk about heroes and hot men and brought the wonderful character Harker to entertain my singleton life.
And that is where my writing stemmed from. I was unhappy and I wanted a hero to come and save me. So I wrote about one instead. Now Matt thinks I have an unhealthy obsession with Sean Bean, but I don’t really, it’s Richard Sharpe. It’s the man who knows his own mind, is slightly on the bad side of good and doesn’t give a damn what he says or what he does as long as it’s for the greater good. Of course, he’s hot, mean, lean and pretty much can fix every problem as well as treating his heroine like a princess. And I didn’t know that when I went on a date with the ‘hot electrician’ from work that that was who I was going on a date with but, happily for me, that’s exactly who I got and it’s worked out rather splendidly.
Now, Matt has had to put up with Sean looking down on him in the living room every evening when he watches television. So, having found my perfect hero, I really felt that today was the day to show Matt my commitment by giving Sean away.
.A good author friend once said to me that real life isn’t like a book. In a book the story builds from a rubbish existence to a happy ever after but she said that real life just muddles on from one event to another. But I like to think I’ve proved her wrong. I’ve had my inciting event, I’ve had my turning points, I’ve even had my darkest moments and today I get my happy ending. So I would be grateful if you would raise your glasses and toast Matt, my hero.
Just in case you don’t believe me and you think I’ve got him hidden away in a drawer, here’s where Sean now resides, on another Choc Lit author, Kate Johnson’s wall. In fact, I have also bestowed Mr Turner and Mr Armitage (I know, I have excellent taste in men) as birthday gifts over the years.
But, what to do now? A sequel to plot with a Sean Bean-esque hero; surely I need another framed picture to focus my thoughts? I can think of just the spot in our new downstairs cloakroom…
Good luck to the other five Search for a Star finalists. I can’t wait to read the winning novel.