Friday, 13 March 2015

Writing a Sequel

I enjoyed writing my first WW1 novel, In Foreign Fields. It wasn’t difficult to write once I had completed all the necessary research. I began with a clean sheet of paper, and the main characters, Captain Wendel and Lieutenant DeBoise, developed in line with the plot.
The sequel, In Line of Fire, wasn’t nearly so easy to write. I wonder if it was the additional effort needed to complete the novel that has earned the book praise from its readers.
There was no clean sheet of paper at the start of this novel. I began with two main characters who were already well-developed. The plot had to work in tune with them, not the other way round. In addition, my research revealed aspects of the war that could not be omitted from the story. Commander Smith-Cumming, head of the Secret Intelligence Service, was badly injured in a motor accident. As he was my protagonists’ boss, I had to weave that into the plot.
At the end of the first book, set in September 1914, I left Wendel and DeBoise in Antwerp. In Line of Fire begins with their escape from the city while it is under siege. I needed to study text books and old newspapers to discover the reality of that siege. My characters had to get away from the assault in a realistic manner.
I always intended that the story would end with the Worcester Regiment’s gallant action at Gheluvelt, near Ypres. Getting Wendel and DeBoise into that action required a lot of thought, and the solution had to be credible.

When I submitted In Line of Fire to my publisher, Cloudberry, I was satisfied with it. The pleasing feedback since its release has made all the effort worth while.