Welcome to March of the Sequels, Anca!
First of all, tell me a little about your series and introduce us to the sequel.
My series, well, actually it’s a trilogy, is called Chimera. The chimera are an ancient race (with various species) of humans and something else that involves magic.
Eons ago, Chimera were peaceful people of different races living in harmony on Eden. Magic was coursing through their veins, uniting all the species until years of crossbreeding resulted in devastating results. Children born from mixed Chimera lost their magic. Shifters who couldn’t shift were seen as an abomination. Witches who couldn’t wield magic were useless. Thus the Elders who ruled Eden had to take drastic measures to save their species from extinction. All those born without magic would be cast aside, and mixed-race relationships were forbidden under the penalty of death. Only pure-bloods could thrive.
Through a portal sustained by magic, defective members of their society were exiled to another realm and forbidden to ever return home. Hence the human race was born and spread on Earth. Many generations later, no one remembered where they came from.
But just like any other governing system, Chimera were not exempt from corruption. Therefore, not all those sentenced to exile were born without magic. Some of the purebloods needed to be silenced, so they were exiled with the rest. Cast on Earth, the Chimera separated from the others and formed a secret society ruled by a Council to protect their own.
Unlike Chimera, those born without magic, humans were vastly different from their ancestors with shorter life spans and prone to disease but increased fertility as if the Univers took pity on them and made sure they wouldn’t go extinct but instead evolve into a completely new species.
Through the centuries, the lack of magic pushed humans to find answers in science. Their ability to reproduce faster than the Chimera increased their numbers exponentially, and they ruled Earth.
Out of self-preservation and spite, Chimera stayed hidden. They soon learned that humans killed what they feared. The Council created the Code, a list of rules meant to protect them.
The first book in the trilogy, Forget Me Not, tells the story of Rae Davis, a human who accidentally stumbles upon mythological creatures. When she learns the truth about their nature, they claim the only way she’ll be allowed to live is to wipe her memory of them. Of course, she’ll try to outsmart them.
Forget Me Not is focused on introducing Rae, her struggles, and a little bit of world-building. The second book, Blue Shadow Prophecy, delves more into the chimera world and politics. To survive, Rae has to make some tough choices and grow up fast.
Do you find that most of your readers continue to read the whole series? Why do you think that is?
Convincing readers to continue reading the saga isn’t easy. The first book started out as a hobby. I had a few scenes in mind, and one thing led to another. I didn’t know I was writing a book. I never planned on doing that. I actually abandoned it mid-chapter 10th. Years later, my husband found it and read it. He persuaded me to keep writing and eventually publish it. Because I didn’t have any plan in mind, and I just made up stuff as I went, I think Forget Me Not still needs some tinkering. I outlined and planned the second book, Blue Shadow Prophecy, and I think it turned out better. With practice, I got better at writing. Those who loved the story of Forget Me Not continued with the sequel and are now waiting for the final installment. To keep readers interested in your series, you need to rapid release the books. It’s the advice most authors give. The longer you wait between books, the easier it is for readers to forget about you. I didn’t do a rapid release because I didn’t start with a plan in mind. But I definitely will for my next series.
Is it easier to further develop characters you’ve already written in book one?
I assume it’s easier if you plan ahead. I didn’t, but fortunately, I made the MC pretty naive (perhaps a little too much) in the first book, and that gave me a lot of space for character growth. By the end of the last book, she’s pretty badass both physically and emotionally.
How difficult is it to add new characters in a sequel into already established relationships?
That’s tricky because it depends on the context. For instance, in the second book Rae gets kidnapped by a witch. It’s not a spoiler because it’s said in the blurb. So the setting and most of the characters in Blue Shadow Prophecy are new. They have their own back story and want Rae for their own selfish reasons. But all that forces Rae to grow and make some tough choices, take risks, and gives her important insight into what’s going on and how little she truly knows about this world. On the other hand, in the final part of the trilogy, Rae gets reunited with the characters from the first book. Writing Blue Shadow Legacy was harder, probably the hardest so far because I had to tie up loose ends and make sure each character got closure. So, adding new characters isn’t necessarily hard. That’s the fun part. But you always keep in mind that you need to close their storyline at some point. The more characters you have, the harder it gets.
Is it difficult to continue with worldbuilding for a world you have already built in book 1? Do you find it easier to switch locations for the sequel and start again with worldbuilding?
I only revealed a small part of the world-building in Forget Me Not, but I let the reader know to expect a lot more in the sequel, and I knew I had to deliver. Actually, imagining the what and the why was the best part of writing the sequel. I actually did switch locations for my sequel. If book one started in Alaska, in the sequel, the setting moved to Georgia in the fictional town of Harshaw. It’s actually a funny story why that happened. One day while outlining book two, I tweeted about having writer’s block. One of my ARC readers suggested I named a character after him and kill him. It was said in jest, but I actually did name a character after him. Michael, the vampire, ended up being one of the coolest characters I have created. Because my ARC reader lived in Georgia, I decided to pick that as my setting for book two. Also, that’s what ended my writer’s block.
Have you ever been stymied by a worldbuilding or plot detail from book 1 that is very inconvenient to deal with or write your way around in subsequent books?
Yes, and it all stemmed from pantsing through book 1. I know there are great writers who don’t plot or outline their books, and it works brilliantly for them. I’m not them. I now question every new thing I add to a book and make sure it won’t hinder me later.
Did you notice your craft improving from book 1 to subsequent books in a series, and if so, how?
After publishing the first book, I read a couple of books on the craft, how to create compelling characters, how to write the scenes to move the story forward, and so on. As soon as I started outlining my second novel, I could tell it was going to be better. I think a couple of reviewers mentioned they noticed that too. I think my third book is by far the best, but only time and readers will tell.
Do you plan out the entire series at once or one book at a time?
I didn’t. Considering what I learned in the process, I will plan my next series.
Do you try to make sequels readable as standalones or do you design a series so that readers have to read the whole thing?
The sequels in the Chimera trilogy can’t be read as stanalones because they rely on the events of the previous book. But I plan to write more books in the same universe that can be read as standalones.
Do you have any marketing tips for sequels?
I’m still learning the ropes. I haven’t done any advertising yet and only relied on word of mouth. It seems many readers wait until a series is completed before they start reading, especially if the author is new. But once my trilogy is complete, I’ll try amazon ads and see how it goes. I usually learn as I go, so I’m sure there’ll be a lot of trial and error.
Thank you for taking part today! Good luck with your books.
About the Author
Anca’s overactive imagination pours into her stories bringing otherworldly creatures to life. She writes about mystical creatures, mystery, and adventure with a hint of Romance.
Her debut novel, Forget Me Not, is the first part of a trilogy published in 2020.
Before starting her writing journey, Anca was active in the blogging community as a fantasy book reviewer. The fanfiction stories she wrote long before she dreamed of being a writer are still popular and available on her blog. Although not as often, she still posts book reviews and book recommendations on her blog www.summonfantasy.com.
Living in Romania, Anca speaks English as a second language and is quite self-conscious about her accent, which is why she never speaks in her videos on TikTok. She loves taking long walks through the parks to recharge her batteries before a writing sprint. She loves cooking and can often be found in the kitchen trying out a new recipe while an audiobook keeps her entertained.