I am thrilled to feature best-selling author Anita Waller on my blog. Anita has opted to provide a guest post. Take it away Anita:
Thank you, Tony for allowing me to be somewhat maudlin, and write this (probably rambling) piece for your blog.
I’m going to consider which book I regard as my best one yet, out of the five currently available. This is a bit of a double-edged sword, because the one that I consider to be my best one, isn’t my favourite one.
I think my best one is Strategy, the sequel to my biggest-selling book, 34 Days. I didn’t want to write
Strategy; I thought at the end of 34 Days, with Jenny having seemingly got away with murder, that would be it. There’s something quite satisfying about a murderer not being brought to book, when it’s necessary murder. It never occurred to me that a sequel would be a possibility.
However, I have fans, thankfully quite great in number; many of them interact with me. It soon became clear I couldn’t leave Jenny sitting in a car park staring at her children and their father, as they got on with their lives.
So, I listened to my vocal fans, finished Winterscroft and immediately started Strategy. It wasn’t called that when I wrote that first sentence; it was called Flippin’ ‘eck. It needed a title, however temporary, for me to use for the file on the computer, and flippin’ ‘eck was my reaction to the many thousands of sales I had enjoyed with 34 Days. I had reached and passed the half way mark on the book before the word Strategy suggested itself for a title – I was beginning to panic, because I couldn’t come up with anything sensible, and I figured Bloodhound Books wouldn’t really rate Flippin’ ‘eck. Not everybody appreciates the Yorkshire dialect.
Writing a sequel isn’t easy. The author must cover 80,000 words or so of the previous book in about a page and a half, or else it becomes boring to the readers who have read the first part of the story. However, there will always be readers who pick up book two first, and they need to know a bit about the back story. I found this to be the most difficult part, but once through the pain barrier of that, the story galloped along at a fair old pace.
Of course, I knew my characters. I expanded on one (Michael) who had entered 34 Days late in the book, making him more important in the sequel. It’s so much easier writing a novel, when you know your characters, and I certainly knew mine! Warts and all. All the characters grew in this second story, partly because of their interaction with new people I had to welcome into the fold.
Just about the time the title suggested itself to me, I felt the story was stagnating a little bit, so I killed one of the characters who was central to the story. That sent it off in a whole new direction and as it drew to its conclusion I remember feeling quite sad that I was saying goodbye to real personalities I had known for a long time.
I edit my work every day, so by the time I reach the finishing line, it’s pretty much ready for sending to my publishers. I just do a final read through, a bit of a tweak here and there, and wait for the editor to tell me what I did wrong!
With Strategy, I felt complete. When I started it, I hadn’t known anything at all about the plot line, hadn’t planned anything, and, as is my usual way, I just let it meander its way along. When I did that final read-through, I knew I couldn’t have done anymore.
And to head back to the beginning of this piece, I said I thought Strategy was my best book, just not my favourite. The one that really lives in my heart is Winterscroft. I’m just an old softy for a dead girl who kills at will, and causes mayhem wherever she goes.
Murder, necessary murder.
You can catch up with Anita here:
34 Days, 2016
Current work in progress, A Legal Issue, publication early 2018