December 2, 2008




Because I don’t write sequels.  I don’t know why.  But that’s the way it is.  

I started getting asked about a sequel when the book was still in galleys, for pity’s sake.   And I got asked a lot on the tour.*  And then I came home and opened my inbox and thousands** more queries about the pub date of the sequel fell out.  And it’s been like that ever since.  As an indication that the original is selling, being checked out of libraries, being passed around among friends, being read, and being enjoyed, this is a good thing.  As a permanent background mutter to my professional life it is not.   It’s like a stone in my shoe.  A stone about the size, say, of the Great Pyramid of Giza. 

I can’t help it!  I write what I am given to write!   

A surprising number of people never did bother to look for the answer on the old web site*** but since that closed down I haven’t rehung the old SUNSHINE sequel answer because I’ve meant to rewrite it.  So it’s my own fault that the numbers of sequel-queries have risen† and lately it’s become the Chinese email torture.  I hope this means the reissue with the glam new cover is selling . . .  but the sequel-queries have to stop.††   So this is me, scrabbling furiously to regain ground that I would never have had to lose, if I weren’t an easily distracted, disorganised dope. 

And really the original post still works perfectly well:

[American Tour 30 September – 14 October 2003]

Yes! I’m home again and still breathing! (Although I admit to a certain anxiety about some of the higher brain functions.) Watch this space for ‘a bad traveller’s notes on surviving a book tour’. †††       

           In the meantime, for all of you who are writing me eagerly asking about the possibility of/ requesting politely/ demanding a sequel to Sunshine, thank you very much for your expressed enthusiasm, but the answer is: I haven’t the slightest idea if I’ll write a sequel! It’s not up to me! I can’t do anything unless or until a story comes to me and says, ‘Write me–write me now.‘ (This is all in the FAQ, by the way.‡) I’d love to write more about Sunshine. ­ I know quite a bit about what happens to her,­ but it’s not up to me. If you want to nag someone, find the mailing address of the Story Council and nag them to send me the sequel. (If you discover the mailing address of the Story Council, however, I want it. Badly. I have a few things to say to them about the unreasonableness of their system. Maybe it worked back in the days of bards and shamans and authorized lunacy, but it’s a rotten system for present-day, this-world writers trying to, you know, earn a living, and maybe behave like human beings instead of like mental cases.)  Given my professional history on the subject of sequels, I can’t say that the odds are very good (I know a lot about Damar that hasn’t seen print either), but maybe the Story Council has changed administration recently and is, even as I write this, making radical and extensive alterations in their organization and structure. And the sequel to Sunshine is due to hit the inside of the back of my skull with a thunk any day now. But don’t count on it. 

. . . And you’ll have noticed that the date on that is 2003, it’s now almost 2009, and SUNSHINE II hasn’t happened yet.  So I guess the Story Council admin is still the same tedious old bureaucratic cranks they’ve been for my entire writing career.  Sorry.  Comfort yourself with thoughts of ALBION, which at least has‡‡ vampires in it. 

* * * 

* Relatively speaking.  Five of the eight people who had read it in galleys and came to one of my gigs asked about a sequel.  In one or two cases this was either the manager or her mother/boyfriend/girlfriend/cat^, who were the only ones there. 

^ Bookstore cats are restful beings.  They rarely ask about sequels. 

** At least three.  No, not three thousand.  Three. 

*** What is this, you know?   I’m not my secretary, I’m only me.  And even if I had a secretary I can’t see much point in having her (or him) to tell people to look through the FAQ and the web site, that’s what they’re there for. ^ 

^ The kids who write me, Please explain what BEAUTY means, and I need it by tomorrow, are a separate category 

† Including quite a few saying earnestly or anxiously, I did look in your FAQ first.  Sigh.  I’m sure they did. 

†† They won’t, of course, because some people plough through all that ‘read this first’ stuff till they get to the email address, and that’s the first thing they pay attention to.  I tell myself they’re demonstrating fervour and exuberance and fervour and exuberance buy books and tell their friends.  Rather more peculiar, however, are the emails–and occasional street-mail letter–declaring that I have to write a sequel.  I’ve blogged about this before, haven’t I?  They keep coming.  They aren’t frequent, but they happen. 

            They divide, mostly, into three categories:  the angry, the hysterical, and the helpful.  The angry, aggrieved ones state that the ending of SUNSHINE is no ending, and while I don’t think anyone has said this in so many words, the dark implication is that if I do not publish a sequel I have essentially stolen their money.  The frantic, hysterical ones say they haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaave to know what happens!!!!  They HAVE to!  They reeelly reeelly HAAAVE TO!!!!!!  And the obliging, helpful ones send me little lists, carefully annotated, of the loose ends and the left-out bits, and essay questions like, Is Mel a sorcerer?  Is Sunshine’s grandmother still alive?  Discuss.  There is frequently some overlap among these basic categories.  The hysterical ones often also believe that SUNSHINE doesn’t end, it stops, and the helpful ones are often having difficulty repressing their irritation that I haven’t made a little list for myself, as if writing a novel were similar in type to a shopping expedition.

            Don’t do any of these.  And don’t write me any funny emails pretending to do any of these things either.  Unless of course you want to be deleted half read.

            And–just for the record–SUNSHINE has an excellent ending.^  I can reread it without shuddering and feeling sick, which is high praise indeed.  Yes, the way is clear for another adventure.  Yes, there are lots of loose ends.  I like loose ends.  Loose ends are like life, and, proficiently deployed, make a story feel like life.  But the end of SUNSHINE is the end of that particular adventure, and it’s a perfectly respectable place to end the book.  Unlike, say, the end of THE WITCHES OF KARRES which is manifestly the beginning of the next adventure and I have never forgiven Schmitz for hanging those chapters on the end of his book without (evidently) having an adequate idea of what happens next.

 ^ Don’t worry.  Lots of readers have told me that they like the openness of the ending.  I’m talking about the people who don’t. 

††† I’m really annoyed I never got round to the bad traveller’s notes.  They kind of come down to:  vitamins.  Champagne.   Chocolate.   Careful selection of books to read to go with you.^  Hotels with gyms.  They pretty much all do, now, hotels have gyms, but they didn’t use to.  It used to be like this totally weird thing that you might want to sweat out some of the frustrations of answering the same questions over and over and over and over and trying to field other questions that were obviously prepared for an interview with somebody else and signing your name till you don’t know what it means any more and getting on another plane every day and sleeping in another strange bed every night and having to order six salads to get a decent serving of lettuce because it’s all tomatoes and cucumbers (I don’t eat tomatoes and I don’t like cucumbers).^^  Feh.  Have I mentioned recently that touring is not glamorous?  

^ If I am ever goaded into touring again, the first thing I’ll do is buy an ebook reader. 

^^ And let’s talk about laundry.  It is impossible to be glamorous when you’re doing your underwear out in the sink every night and possibly, speaking of gyms, your running gear.^  My touring life was changed unspeakably for the better with the invention of travelling clotheslines, but they do not make the finding of the strange loo in the strange dark of a strange hotel room at 3 am any more fun.  And you’re never anywhere long enough to get anything drycleaned, like the first power suit of my life on the SUNSHINE tour, which I had to give up wearing about two-thirds of the way through because it was starting to walk and talk by itself.

 ^ And in answer to some disbelieving query posted to the forum in response to a recent remark, yes, I meant Marilyn Manson’s cover of Tainted Love.  I’ve run and rowed many hotel miles to that song. 

‡ Most of what I say in ‘When are you going to write another Damar book’ applies to SUNSHINE, barring details like the half-million out-of-control words in a box in the attic (that’s KIRITH, I’ve told you about KIRITH, yes?).  I’m still neurotic and insecure.  Although the interesting and hopeful truth is that I am less neurotic and insecure than I was thirty years ago.  But I still don’t seem to write sequels. 

‡‡ will have vampires in it.  But PEGASUS is going pretty well.  I think.


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