New York Times bestselling indie author A. Meredith Walters dishes on the pressures of creating magic for the second time around with LIGHT IN THE SHADOWS, the follow-up to FIND YOU IN THE DARK, on sale now from Gallery Books! And keep an eye out for LEAD ME NOT, the first book in her new series, out August 5th!
Sometimes a story just needs to be continued. When a writer types the magical words, the end, it doesn’t always mean that the journey is over. On the contrary, it sometimes means it’s only the beginning. But writing a sequel can be daunting. Particularly when the characters have been enjoyed, or even hated, it can be hard finding the right way to wrap everything up. When I started writing the sequel to Find You in the Dark, I knew in my head where I wanted the characters Maggie Young and Clay Reed to go. I knew exactly what twists and turns their road would take. And most importantly, I knew their endgame. That didn’t make writing it any less difficult. In fact it made it way, WAY harder. Because there was EXPECTATION. I was almost paralyzed with the anxiety inducing thought, “what if people hate it?” “What if I don’t end the story the way my readers want me to?” And that is the curse of the sequel. Because sometimes the follow up just doesn’t live up to the hype of the original. Someone only needs to watch Ghostbusters 2 or every Rocky movie made after that epic first one to understand what I’m talking about. But then, sometimes, the sequel can awesome. Look at Godfather 2 and every single Harry Potter book. Sometimes the sequel can even outshine the first. I really struggled with Light in the Shadows. It took me a long time to get back into those characters’ heads. Part of it had to do with not wanting to let go. Clay and Maggie were important to me. I felt totally enmeshed in their journey. Once Light in the Shadows was finished, I knew that would be it. I had no plans to carry on with their story after the sequel. It would be all over. And that was sort of depressing. I also wondered whether I could tie things up in a way that left me feeling happy about what I had written and whether it would satisfy the readers who had come to love the characters as much as I did. Fear of failure is a very real, very debilitating thing. Whereas I wrote Find You in the Dark in four weeks, it took me months to finish Light in the Shadows. I rewrote scenes. I deleted entire chunks. I re-worked plot points. The curse of the sequel was threatening to undo the entire thing. But eventually, I pushed through. And it mostly had to do with the amazing readers who sent me emails and messages, reminding me of why I loved this story and wanted to give voice to these characters. So now, I’m sitting here, writing the sequel to my newest series. Gallery Books will release the first book, Lead Me Not, on August 5th. And I’m facing the dreaded curse all over again. But I have learned a lot since writing the Find You in the Dark series. And I’ve figured out the best way to get over my own fears is to push on through. To keep writing, even when I want to stop. And hopefully someone, somewhere will love it as much as I do. Curse be damned.