Friday, June 29, 2012

Time for a Sequel, ye say? With Guest Blogger: Marilyn Morris

Welcome author Marilyn Morris 
to the Book Boost today!

She's here to chat about sequels and here's what she had to say...

I should know better by now.  As I finished typing The End on my historical romance novel, The Unexplored Heart, I heard a loud “AHEM!”  I looked around, wondering who had spoken to me. 

The voice took form as she continued, “You just think you’re finished.”  It was Esther Wooster, researcher extraordinary and wife of archaeologist Charles Wooster, gliding toward my desk.  She gave me a steely gaze over the rims of her spectacles before settling with a gentle “plop” into my easy chair.  (Esther is a rather corpulent lady.)

“I want a book for myself.” She continued.  “About myself.  You must write a sequel, where I embark on yet another quest. I am feeling somewhat restless and unfulfilled after having discovered Camelot.”

“Oh, of course,” I said.  My mind was racing.  How to do this sequel? What role should the other characters play, with Esther assuming the lead?  But I found myself outlining in a few sentences, After Camelot:  Esther’s Quest.

Esther picked up her large portfolio filled with research, and wearing a serene smile of satisfaction, she disappeared. 

Not all my sequels reach that pinnacle of drama.  In fact, I really had no idea of writing a trilogy featuring that mystical, magical black cat, Sabbath.  But when I reached the end of Sabbath’s Gift, questions remained, loose ends begged for attention.  So I began writing Sabbath’s House, where my characters moved from the farmhouse where bodies were buried in the cellar to a – what else? – haunted house.  And when I typed “The End” of Sabbath’s House, I knew I had to write at least one more novel, and thus, Sabbath’s Village is now in outline form. 

The Women of Camp Sobingo is my WWII era novel featuring four women who meet aboard a ship bound for Korea to join their army officer husbands with the Occupation.  They form a bond that strengthens them for the secrets and sorrows that are at last revealed in a reunion some twenty-five years later.  The character of Trudy Cavanaugh seemed a natural for a “what happens next?” sequel. 
The title of this novel will be That Cavanaugh Woman, and follows this unlikely heiress to a publishing company established by her powerful father-in-law. 

So, you can see some serendipity here, can’t you?  Not actually planned sequels suddenly present themselves, in the form of a demanding Esther Wooster; the magical black cat, Sabbath solving yet another mystery; and the courage of one of The Women of Camp Sobingo taking over a vast publishing empire.

Just another reason I love my “job” as novelist. 

A Note from the Book Boost:  I'm writing my first true sequel right now, Marilyn and finding it both fun and frightening at the same time.  Wish me luck on that!  Your books sound terrific and I enjoyed hearing about them.  Please tell us more about your latest.


Impoverished but proud Vanessa Danforth is forced from her mother’s home by her new stepfather’s treachery in 1860s England.  After graduating from stenographer’s school, she accepts a position at the estate of famed world explorer, Harrison Courtland.  Made a widower by his wife’s tragic death in the Himalayas, Courtland has retreated into his work while Vanni forges friendships with the his daughter Katrin and the handsome physician from the neighboring estate.

As Vanni encourages Courtland to unearth the ancient ruins at the edge of his property she discovers not only a stunning secret and a hidden treasure, but also her own heart’s desire.

Excerpt (edited for length):  

She was just about ready to settle into reading the main text when Clarice bustled into the room.

“So would you look at you, now? Reading a rag like that, when ye should be intent on findin’out about yer stepfather’s will,” she began.

Vanessa laughed aloud at the sound of her maid’s voice repeating the very words she had just imagined.  Clarice ignored her laugh, hands on hips, shaking her capped head.  “And what’s so funny, Miss Vanni?” She used her old nickname, which made Vanessa instantly nostalgic for the days when she would sit on her mother’s lap, listening to her musical voice calling her “Vanni.” Her heart wrenched at the old name.  Nonetheless, she answered, “Oh, Clarice, you’re such a fussy-budget.  I just this minute seated myself, as old Mr. Fisher is late and a girl has to have something to do whilst she’s waiting, now, doesn’t she?” She pursed her lips, making a small frown on her brow, but her blue eyes danced with merriment.

“Enough with yer nonsense, child,” Clarice continued.  “Adventures? For a slight girl like ye? And a well-brought up young lady, too. Unseemly nonsense.  Now get along with ye; I came to fetch you into the study.  Mr. Fisher himself is here, now; that’s what I meant to tell you.  Go along with you, now.” She made shooing motions with her large, rough hands.

Vanni rose from her chair, smoothed imaginary wrinkles from her dress and then her hands fiddled with her curls.  “Thank you, Clarice,” she said in mock solemnity.  Then she strode with all the dignity and courage she could muster out of the room and down the hall to the study.

Pausing before she opened the door, she once more smoothed her skirt and touched her long brown hair carefully arranged in ringlets around her small, pale face.  Taking a deep breath, she slid open the massive door and entered the gloomy study.

She had always hated this room, now more than ever, since it was dimly lit. She hated it especially since Mr. Firestone had come to live in her mother’s house.  Rooms that had been light and airy and cheerful, like her mother’s disposition, had then taken on somber tones, like Mr. Firestone himself.  Vanni had always been reluctant to enter this room when her stepfather was alive, and now that the man was dead, it took on an even more forbidding tone.

Her eyes adjusted slowly to the interior and she perceived the shadowy form of her solicitor, Aimsley  Fisher, who now rose from his chair behind the rosewood desk.

“Miss Vanessa,” he intoned solemnly. Aimsley Fisher stood and waved his thin, elegant hand at the wingback chair across from the desk.  His mustache twitched slightly, whether from a nervous habit or an attempt to subdue a small smile, Vanni couldn’t imagine which.

“Mr. Fisher,” she replied, attempting to be just as solemn. “How good of you to come.”

“I will try to make this as brief as possible.” He indicated that she should be seated, and she chose a tapestry-covered armchair opposite the massive desk.

“I assume you know the reason I’m here.” 

She nodded. “It’s about Mr. Firestone’s will, I should imagine.”

“Miss Vanessa, in all those years he was your father, you never called your stepfather anything but Mr. Firestone."

“He hardly was anything more than that to me, Mr. Fisher.  I could scarcely bear to think of him even as my mother’s husband.  I thought he treated her badly,” she added.

“Uhhhhm, how unfortunate,” Mr. Fisher said absently.

“I’m sure you didn’t come here to discuss my late step-father’s shortcomings,” Vanni prodded.  “And I’m just as certain you have no time to spare with your busy practice of the law.”

“Quite so, Miss Danforth.” He cleared his throat and shuffled a few papers on the desk, finally setting on one that he now held in his hand.

“I am informing you of the provisions contained in the late Mr. Firestone’s will, rather than conducting a full reading that would not pertain to you, if you find that agreeable.”

“Agreed, Mr. Fisher.”

“I’m afraid what he has said pertaining to your lot of his estate will not be to your liking.” His eyes peered at her over his spectacles.

Vanni noticed the dancing fire reflecting in the spectacles. Something evil is coming out of this. Her breathing came in pants as her heart rate accelerated.

“Go on,” she said almost in a whisper. 

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1 comment:

Malcolm R. Campbell said...


I really liked the Sabbath books, so it's great to hear there's another one on the "drawing board."

My characters bug me, too, but so far, none of them have snuck up and said, "ahem."