The Joy and Challenges of Writing a Sequel
Eve has moved on and is blissfully happy with her new life, new home, new job and new lover in the Scottish Highlands. Back in the English Midlands almost 500 miles away, commitment-phobic Roxanne is still exactly where she was, determinedly playing the field and insisting that she will never settle down. But increasingly Roxanne finds herself having to suppress niggling doubts. Is her life as much fun as it used to be? Is she stuck in a rut? Does she really want to be on her own for ever?
The sequel should seamlessly develop the primary story.
I knew that to meet this first challenge Highland Whirl would need to evoke the world of my debut novel Highland Fling. I loved taking the reader back with me to the breath-taking setting of the Highlands of Scotland, my favourite holiday destination, and having the opportunity to describe each exquisite detail once more.
…winter with its consuming whiteness had at last relinquished its icy grip on the woods, heath, and moorland of Newland. Only the mountaintops, glinting white on the distant horizon, hinted at winter’s recent brooding retreat.
And it was immense fun to return to the buzz of The Brewer’s Arms, the fictional gay bar in the heart of the city of Leicester. The Brewer’s reflects so much of my own early experiences of the excitement and trepidation of visiting gay bars.
Alice could still remember the inside of The Brewer’s as if it was yesterday. There was the booth under the window and then the long bar where people leaned to look and be looked at. And in the corner, as before, was the snooker table with its sharp crack as ball met ball. And how could she forget the groups of people huddled together, laughing and so intimidating with their tribal power.
Highland Whirl – Greatest Joy
My greatest joy was being in the company once more of the characters who have become real to me from Highland Fling. It was so exciting to reimagine their lives four years on. How were Moira and Eve? Had the wounds of Moira’s troubled past healed? Had Eve and Moira found the lasting love that Highland Fling promised? Did the McAlisters still live in the pretty cottage laden with roses? How was Roxanne coping without her best mate Eve? And what about the feisty Alice, had she mellowed and matured to become the capable and beautiful young woman she had the potential to be?
Dressed in skinny blue jeans and a figure-hugging navy gilet, Alice was the embodiment of trendy. Her long blond hair was tied back into a ponytail just as Roxanne had remembered it. However, this time her pale skin caught in the softness of the morning light and revealed a delicate beauty that Roxanne wasn’t expecting. In that moment, she might have been the most beautiful woman Roxanne had ever seen, but she was still certainly the most terrifying.
The sequel should stand alone and be uniquely itself.
It was the potential of Roxanne and Alice’s story that captured my heart and imagination to explore in Highland Whirl. They were the perfect ‘opposites attract’ to spark off each other with their banter and wit. These sub-characters of Highland Fling became the new focus and formed the new story unique to itself.
All the tinder of the details of their individual personalities and their backgrounds had been provided by the narrative of Highland Fling. It was the purpose of Highland Whirl to set those potent details alight and bring Alice and Roxanne together with a poignancy developed over both novels.
[Roxanne] stared up at the ceiling. What was Alice thinking? Maybe Alice wasn’t thinking anything. That was more likely. Sure, it seemed that Alice was amused by her, even now and then admiring of her, maybe. And they did seem to have more in common than she could have imagined just a few days ago. But that certainly didn’t mean that she meant anything to Alice. Oh my God, why did that thought hurt? Did she want Alice to have feelings for her? Was this what having feelings for someone was like? What would she know about that? Love was always something someone else had.
Two Books – One story with one pulsing heart.
Above all, I wanted there to be an effortless inevitability to the narrative of Highland Whirl so much so that by the final chapter it feels to the reader that they are reading one story formed from two works. One story with one pulsing heart.
Alice stood in front of them and took a deep breath. “I first began to write this song many years ago when I dared to dream for a day like this. So here we go.” Alice Campbell sang for her loved ones with a heart so full of love that a lifetime well-lived would never be enough to run it dry. This is for my only love. This is for my bonnie lass. This is for the dreams we’ll share, For love will time outlast…Highland Whirl by Anna Larner