Welcome to March of the Sequels, Jonathan!
First, tell me a little bit about your series and introduce us to the sequel.
Wind Tide is a space opera trilogy. The stories take place in a secondary world in a portion of the Sagittarius Arm and revolve around a series of characters thrown into action who struggle to move beyond a continuous cycle of vengeance and colonization, as well as social and environmental injustices. It’s a character-driven series with a focus on action and adventure, deep world building, and moral struggle.
The sequel, Jati’s Wager, follows the story of Ailo (she/her), and a character from the first book Goodbye to the Sun, named Jati (they/them). It’s a heist and coming-of-age story mashed together in a space opera.
Is it easier to further develop characters you’ve already written in book one?
Absolutely. Jati’s personality and moral philosophy were well established in Goodbye to the Sun. I had so much left that I wanted to write about them and knew that this book was going to give me the space to do it. Jati represents so much of what I hope for and want the world to be like that I couldn’t wait to get going with the sequel so I could share their life journey, dialog,and character choices with readers.
How difficult is it to add new characters in a sequel into already established relationships?
My experience was that the second book was easier to write than the first. There is so much that you can rely on as an existingfoundation, especially with world building, when you write a sequel that bringing new characters in is like adding to an existing family. This was the case with Jati’s Wager because a heist team gathers around Jati. That meant people they already knew and had previously worked with on other operations could return from earlier shared histories. Ailo fit in easily because she is supposed to be an outsider – she didn’t need to slide in with ease. I needed her to not fit well because that is where the story’s tension originates.
I was able to enrich the existing world building in the sequel – I love inventing languages, describing food and cultural practices, landscapes, and biodiversity, and all of these could be taken into much further detail after the first book’s foundation.
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?
I had a big problem with the plot of the sequel because of thepre-set timeline in the first book. I had to make sure the ages of the characters were realistic as the book jumped ahead by nine years. It meant making some adjustments to the plot and tweaking some prior events, but it worked out in the end.
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 Wind Tide series is anthology series. Each book relates to the previous one but is not a strict continuation of the narrative. Certain characters reappear in subsequent books, but the settings shift and time passes between stories and events. You can read the series in order (and I recommend it) but you could also pick each one up and read it independently. I favor this approach because it creates self-reliant stories that together create three dramatic acts in one epic space opera trilogy.
Do you have any marketing tips for sequels?
Nope! But I will share a strategy with writing sequels that worked for me. I purposefully tried to write a second book that was faster-paced and more action-oriented. I chose a heist partly because I wanted to ensure the second book didn’t fall victim to that “soggy middle” of the second act in a three-act structure (across the three books). My aim was to up the excitement, up the stakes, and up the world building to avoid getting bogged down on the way to the climactic final book.
As far as marketing a sequel, I can’t say I have any tips. I always joke with other authors that we are all throwing things at the marketing wall to see what sticks!
Thanks again for taking part – and good luck with all your books!
About the Author
From the moment he saw Star Wars: Episode IV in the theater as a child, Jonathan’s eyes turned to the night sky and the capability of FTL drives to whisk him off to distant star systems. After two decades of academic publishing, he finally got up the nerve to write fiction and bring those worlds to life.
Jonathan lives in southeastern PA with his wife and rambunctious mountain feist, Cricket. When not writing and teaching, he spends his time chasing his dog through the woods and hoping he’ll be able to walk in space before he croaks.
Jonathan Nevair (he/him/his) is the pen name for Dr. Jonathan Wallis, Professor of Art History at Moore College of Art & Design, Philadelphia