Welcome to Day 3 of March of the Sequels, E.G.!
First of all, tell me a little about your series and introduce us to the sequel.
The Coming of Áed is a YA/New Adult series consisting of THE HIDDEN KING, THE LAST PRINCE (an origin story/prequel) and THE WILD COURT (the sequel). Loosely inspired by Celtic mythology, The Coming of Áed is a character-driven series with subtle, slow-burn romance and urgent adventurous schemes. The intensity only grows with each book!
Do you find that most of your readers continue to read the whole series?
THE WILD COURT is the most complex and ambitious of the three books in the trilogy, and I’m immensely pleased with the result. Reviewers seem to feel the same way, so I absolutely hope readers continue to pick it up!
The good news is that readers don’t have to read through to get to THE WILD COURT: BookList Magazine (the publication of the American Library Association) stated in their lovely review that it can be read as a standalone.
Is it easier to further develop characters you’ve already written in book one?
For me, the fact that THE WILD COURT took place seven years after THE HIDDEN KING gave me a lot of freedom to let my characters mature and develop. It was a lot of fun to write their recognizably defining features with a few years in-story to give them richness, and to figure out how the intervening time affected each in their own way. So I suppose the answer is yes; there were aspects that the process shared with writing new characters, since nobody is the same after nearly a decade, and there were also familiar elements that made them very easy to write.
How difficult is it to add new characters in a sequel into already established relationships?
I think it would probably depend on the relationship. If, for example, someone had died off-screen, or a longtime relationship had ended between books, I can imagine that it would be difficult to introduce new characters to fill that gap. It could be done, but executing something like that could be troublesome. I didn’t have that problem, so introducing new characters wasn’t really an issue. It was just a matter of realistically imagining how each character would react to the new character given their personality, history, manner of introduction, context, etc.
Is it difficult to continue with worldbuilding for a world you have already built in book 1?
I didn’t find it to be, because most of THE WILD COURT took place elsewhere from books one and two. When I wrote THE HIDDEN KING, I hadn’t plotted as far as THE WILD COURT, and so my worldbuilding was to some extent limited by what I’d already seeded. Some things I could add without any previous mention, but I couldn’t introduce anything too big or too foreign. This is fine, but I had known for a long time that THE WILD COURT wasn’t going to take place in the same two cities as THE HIDDEN KING or THE LAST PRINCE.
Do you find it easier to switch locations for the sequel and start again with worldbuilding?
This is essentially what I did, so perhaps it did make it easier. However, it wasn’t a switch in its entirety. I simply developedpart of the world that I’d introduced–but not developed–in THE HIDDEN KING. I wasn’t starting from scratch. To that end, what read as expansive was, from a writing perspective, just the exploration of a detail.
Have you ever been stymied by a world building or plot detail from book 1 that is very inconvenient to deal with or write your way around in subsequent books?
I chose to write the prequel (THE LAST PRINCE) before the sequel (THE WILD COURT) because in a sequel, I could move forward to develop new events, but in a prequel, I was bounded on all temporal sides by events that I’d already set in stone. I didn’t want to keep adding things that I would need to retroactively keep track of, so I held off writing the sequel for last. That meant that in THE LAST PRINCE, I had to be careful not to accidentally contradict anything I’d already established in the timeline, but in THE WILD COURT, I encountered fewer obstacles. I can’t remember anything encumbering me.
Did you notice your craft improving from book 1 to subsequent books in a series, and if so, how?
Absolutely. I’m not ashamed to admit that THE HIDDEN KING was almost entirely unplanned, and THE LAST PRINCE was only slightly more so. This worked because they’re both such small-scale, character-driven novels; I could figure out what needed to come next primarily on gut instinct. In THE WILD COURT, however, with a larger world, more characters, and a more urgent external plot, I saw the need to outline. I’mhonestly never going back, and I don’t quite know how I managed to survive before.
Beyond that, I felt comfortable taking more risks with each novel. Character development, trope subversion, world building–even things as small-scale as dialogue flows. The more familiar I got with myself as an author (a process which will never end), the better I got at determining what I was capable of executing well.
I think each book is progressively better than the last–I have actively honed my craft, and hope to keep doing so.
Do you plan out the entire series at once or one book at a time?
I suppose I partly answered this question above, but I will elaborate. In general, my focus is on the book that I’m writing at that moment, and I have a loose plan of where the series is going. The Coming of Áed was my first trilogy, and even though I’d written a book before it (which I will certainly never publish), I was still developing my process. As I go forward with new projects, I’m beginning with a chapter-by-chapter outline of the first book, with a well-fleshed-out but freer plot of the following books together as a whole. This way, when I inevitably throw myself a curveball in writing, I don’t have to scrap an inflexible outline–but I still have enough planned that the story’s arcs will be compelling and continuous, and I don’t risk accidentally contradicting myself with some stray piece of timeline.
Do you try to make sequels readable as standalones or do you design a series so that readers have to read the whole thing?
My design was that each book would be in conversation with the others. Readers have told me that they think each book could hold its own independently of the others, and I know there is some flexibility in the reading order–I’ve heard positive things from people who decided to switch up THE LAST PRINCE and THE HIDDEN KING.
My plan for future works is more tightly-laced. While some sub-arcs may resolve before the end of the series, each will be designed to flow into the next to reach a final, end-of-series resolution.
Do you have any marketing tips for sequels?
I have the writing community to thank for sharing what has worked for them. As with all tips and advice, not every piece of advice will apply to you. Assess which will work best with your resources and constraints, your skills, and your body of work.
A few suggestions:
1. Post updates about you writing progress on social media and in your newsletter.
2. Include an excerpt of the sequel in the back matter of your earlier books, with a link to purchase the sequel.
3. Lower the price of the early books to make it easier for readers to get started with your series.
4. Make sure the links to each book in your series are included in your pinned post on Twitter (if you don’t have a pinned post, make one!)
5. Identify 4-5 things that are key to your sequel (in fact, for each book in your series) and use them when you talk about your books on social media (for THE WILD COURT, I like to use FAE, FIRE, MAGIC & MAYHEM). This will help readers who are interested in these things to find your book.
6. Link each book in your series in your newsletters, not just the latest installment. If you don’t have a newsletter, it’s never too late to start one, and it’s a great way to reach readers specifically interested in what you have to offer.
7. Create an omnibus of your work (aka a “boxed set”) so readers can buy the whole series at once.
Thank you for taking part in March of the Sequels! Good luck with your books!
About the Author
E.G. Radcliff is a part-time pooka and native of the Unseelie Court. She collects acorns, glass beads, and pretty rocks, and the crows outside her house know her as She Who Has Bread. Her fantasy novels are crafted in the dead of night after offering sacrifices of almonds and red wine to the writing-block deities.
You can reach her by scrying bowl, carrier pigeon, or @egradcliff on social media.