Raised in a small town, Teresa Frohock learned to escape to other worlds through the fiction collection of her local library. She eventually moved away from Reidsville and lived in Virginia and South Carolina before returning to North Carolina, where she currently resides with her husband and daughter. Teresa has long been accused of telling stories, which is a southern colloquialism for lying.
A huge thanks to Courtney and the folks at the Night-Bazaar for hosting another guest post from me. To celebrate the release of my debut Miserere: An Autumn Tale, I’ll be giving away two autographed copies here on the Night-Bazaar. All you have to do is leave a comment on any of the Night-Bazaar posts this week (July 4-9, 2011) and give us the title of a sequel or second novel that you’ve enjoyed.
If you want to read the first four chapters of Miserere before committing, you can find them here.
I think a lot of writers and fans tend to believe that publication means the second novel is just bursting to roll out of the author’s brain and onto the keyboard. I used to think that once I finished Miserere, my next novel would be spectacularly easy. I mean, I had gotten over the hump of story-telling and world-building, right?
I deliberately didn’t plunge into Miserere’s sequel when we started submitting. I had just spent three long years in Woerld, world-building, orchestrating the angelology that I intended to use, and the characters. I was horribly afraid that if I immediately started on Miserere’s sequel Dolorosa, I would never be able to write anything other than these characters and this Woerld.
I also wanted a different feel for Dolorosa than I had for Miserere. Miserere is Lucian’s story; Dolorosa is Rachael’s story, and though Dolorosa picks up right where Miserere ends, the two novels and characters are as different as night and day. I was afraid that if I started too soon, Rachael’s voice would be buried beneath Lucian. So I decided to take a break and start a new novel.
Unfortunately, that initial confidence waned at the sight of the blank page and blinking cursor when I began The Garden. I have a new cast of characters, a new plot, and I am terribly conscious of the differences between The Garden and Miserere. The Garden is much darker both in tone and subject matter.
There is also a massive amount of self-doubt at play too. Can I write another salable novel?
Sounds stupid, but the thought is there, lurking in the back of my mind. I rewrote and polished the first chapter of The Garden ten times before I finally moved deeper into the novel. I’m constantly comparing it to Miserere, both in tone and in quality. I don’t want The Garden to be as good as Miserere, I want it to be better—like I want Dolorosa to be better than Miserere and The Garden.
I am my own worst critic, and that self-doubt gnawed me every time I booted up my laptop. There were times when it became downright debilitating. I didn’t want to write or think about The Garden or any other novel, for that matter.
So I did what any self-respecting author should do; I talked with other authors who had multiple books published, and they told me they had all gone through the same thing. Then they proceeded to give me the best possible advice: keep writing and tell the story the way it should be told. Don’t worry about what other people think right now, just get the story down.
So I started writing; I stopped worrying about whether it was good enough. Last week, I printed out the first seventy pages and remembered why I loved this story. The self-doubt is starting to ease, and I’m feeling better about my ability to write that second book. It may never get easier, but that’s good in a way. I think it will make me more vigilant.
I’m still watching The Garden for similarities to Miserere, catch-phrases and characterizations that may be too close, but I don’t despair if I find any. Those can be weeded out later. Character traits can be tweaked, and I continue to wander the Internet in search of writing advice. I never know when I’m going to pick up a new trick that might make this novel better.
Now that I know how hard it can be to work through that awful self-doubt that eats me at every word or phrase, I’ve developed a new respect for other authors and their second books. It’s not easy, and one sale doesn’t guarantee the next. It’s an on-going process and I have to be ready to meet the challenge.
So while I’m writing the next book, I want you to leave a comment, give us the title of a sequel or second novel that you’ve enjoyed, and you will have a chance to win one of two copies of Miserere.