The Challenges of Writing A Sequel, A Guest Post by Anne Coates, Author of Death’s Silent Judgement

Death's Silent Judgement

I’m delighted to welcome Anne Coates back to Linda’s Book Bag to celebrate her latest novel Death’s Silent Judgement. I’ve met Anne on a number of occasions and she’s utterly lovely. Previously, Anne kindly wrote a super post for me on the influence of reading on writing that you can find here.

Death’s Silent Judgement is book two in the Hannah Weybridge thriller series and is the sequel to Dancers in the Wind.  Published by Urbane Publications, today, 11th May 2017, Death’s Silent Judgement is available for purchase in e-book and paperback here or via the publisher here.

Death’s Silent Judgement

Death's Silent Judgement

Death’s Silent Judgement is the thrilling sequel to Dancers in the Wind, and continues the gripping series starring London-based investigative journalist Hannah Weybridge.

Following the deadly events of Dancers in the Wind, freelance journalist and single mother Hannah Weybridge is thrown into the heart of a horrific murder investigation when a friend, Liz Rayman, is found with her throat slashed at her dental practice.

With few clues to the apparently motiveless crime Hannah throws herself into discovering the reason for her friend’s brutal murder, and is determined to unmask the killer. But before long Hannah’s investigations place her in mortal danger, her hunt for the truth placing her in the path of a remorseless killer…

The series is very much in the best traditions of British women crime writers such as Lynda La Plante and Martina Cole.

Three Things That Were Difficult

About Writing A Sequel

A Guest Post by Anne Coates

Only three? I thought when Linda gave me this brief.  Sometimes just getting words on to the page was challenging enough! However I did find that, after a very skeletal first draft, the narrative created its own momentum and the characters led me by the nose or kicked me in the rear.

When I started writing Death’s Silent Judgement, I had no idea where it was going. For me – and Hannah – it was a journey into the unknown. I’m definitely not someone who plans each chapter and knows how the novel ends. So in one way I felt free to explore characters and themes with few restrictions – except that some of the characters, apart from Hannah, had appeared in the first book and so they had their own history to be accommodated.

Dancers in the Wind_small

One of the challenges I had was making sure the timeline worked as Hannah’s life continued. In Dancers in the Wind, Liz Rayman is mentioned as working for a charity abroad and being away for the birth of Hannah’s daughter. In the first book I had used the name of a well-known medical charity but at proof stage I was able to change this to a fictitious name as, by then, I knew there were serious problems at the outpost where Liz had been working. In fact the finished manuscript of Death’s Silent Judgement was sent to Urbane Publications two weeks before Dancers in the Wind was published in October last year so there was little room for manoeuvre.

Initially, Death’s Silent Judgement, began further into the future but then I decided that wasn’t working as too much would have to be explained about what had happened in the interim. I moved the setting back in time but then I also had to change what characters were wearing as we were in a different season. This also affected which characters could be where – I’d had Linda going to be with Hannah after she discovered Liz’s murder but moving the timeline back meant she had just had a baby and wouldn’t be available!

I also had to ensure that any references to what had happened in book one would be understood by readers who may be starting at book two. I was blessed with two readers who checked this for me. One who’d been a reader for Dancers in the Wind and one who was coming new to the series. Fortunately they both thought that Death’s Silent Judgement worked well as a sequel and as a stand-alone.

Parts of the back-story could be explained quite naturally in dialogue and certain things that jogged someone’s memory in the narrative. Some of this was achieved with flashbacks to conversations between Hannah and Liz, as I very much wanted Liz to be a presence in the book, not just a body at the beginning.

My hope is that with Death’s Silent Judgement, I will surprise readers with how characters from book one are more involved in book two. My daughter (who hasn’t read book two yet) was surprised at the death of one of the characters in Dancers in the Wind who, she’d assumed, would be part of the team solving the crime in the next book. Glad that wasn’t predictable!

Challenges apart, writing Death’s Silent Judgement has been a great adventure for me, one I hope will satisfy readers as well.

Currently I am writing the third book with a different set of characters plus some of my favourites from the previous two. Time has moved on a couple of months and the murders are getting nearer to home… Still struggling with the first draft but this time I have some great reviews of Dancers in the Wind to keep me focused and to spur me on during darker moments.

(All the best with juggling that Anne!)

About Anne Coates

anne coates

Anne Coates is a freelance editor and author. While editing and abridging other peoples’ novels and non-fiction, she has contributed short stories to magazines like Bella and Candis and wrote two novels that never saw publication. One afternoon she re-read the second one, saw its potential and rewrote it, restructuring the narrative and adding and subtracting scenes. This work became Dancers in the Wind to be published by Urbane Publications on 13 October, 2016.

Some of her short stories appear in two collections: A Tale of Two Sisters and Cheque-Mate and Other Tales of the Unexpected both published as e-books by Endeavour Press. Anne has also written seven non-fiction books ranging from a history of Women in Sport (Wayland) to Applying to University (Need To Know) and Living With Teenagers (Endeavour Press).

Anne lives in London with three cats who are all rather disdainful of her writing as they have yet to appear in her fiction although a dog has!

You can follow Anne on Twitter and visit her website. You’ll also find Anne on Facebook.

There’s more with these other bloggers too:

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