The sequel next door?

I have a policy about reviews. That policy is: don’t speak to the people who have reviewed one of my books unless they speak to me first.

It’s a good policy, and one which I employ in many walks of life in many different ways, because I’m somewhat introverted and the odds are good even if we met before I won’t talk unless you talk first.home-slide-spaceship-cvr-2

The review policy is important, because living a full life on the Internet means much more direct access to my readers, and vice versa, so it’s critical that people feel comfortable writing an honest opinion without fear that I or someone purporting to speak for me comes after them. I appreciate that from the outside-in this sounds a touch crazy, except there are many MANY instances of authors doing just this, including one who hunted down an anonymous Goodreads reviewer in order to club her over the head with a wine bottle.

I don’t have this problem, because I don’t take negative reviews personally; I’m not criminally psychotic; and the reviews I’ve been getting for The Spaceship Next Door have been amazingly positive.

This is the unfortunate part about not speaking to reviewers: I can’t reach out to the people who liked the book either, not unless they reach out to me first.

So here is a blanket response to everyone who’s taken the time to talk about how much they loved The Spaceship Next Door: I do read the reviews, I am overwhelmed by how much you’ve all enjoyed it, and I love you all.

A common theme in both the bits of fan mail I’ve received and in a number of those reviews is: can there please be a sequel?

The answer is: I don’t know.

Here’s the thing—I don’t know what I’m doing.

I mean it, I’m making up this whole writing thing as I go. When I sat down last summer to write The Spaceship Next Door the only thing I knew right away was that the ship wasn’t going to do anything for a while and it was going to land in Massachusetts. That was all. I didn’t know Annie Collins or Ed Somerville or any of the other characters until I started writing, and I definitely didn’t know what was going to happen until it started happening.

(Aside: if you want to write books where the unexpected happens, I’m about 90% convinced this is the only way to do it.)

What this means is, I wrote Spaceship with no plans for a second book or a third—trilogies are a thing, I’ve heard—because I wrote the book with no plans for a first book.

Right now, I am very much satisfied with the way Annie’s story ends, but like you readers, I would also love to visit with her again. But if I ever do, it’s going to be because I have a reason to, and I don’t have that at the moment.

This doesn’t mean I will never have a reason to, just that one hasn’t occurred to me yet. It may not ever, but it might.

Until then—if it happens—I’m afraid I’m going to have to leave you all wanting more.

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No Comments

  1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt on June 4, 2016 at 8:32 am

    Your review policy is eminently sane. That bit about waiting for the reader to make the first move is the hardest part of writing because you know you have to balance a tendency to talk about your baby with the knowledge that maybe the other person doesn’t want to talk about it as much as you do.

    The modern world has changed the relationships between readers and writers.

    Most writers want LOTS of readers – for the same book – and there’s only ONE of us. Inherently, there are problems.

    Plus if you have any modesty at all (my mother tried very hard to instill some), and are over the age of 30, praise makes you a bit uncomfortable.

    All this said makes the contacting fraught with a certain amount of danger and the potential for disaster.

    What I do is put all those lovely words from my readers into a folder in my Scrivener file – and read them when the Universe seems determined not to let me write. It helps. It keeps me from looking as needy as I am. And it makes me feel better right when I need it.

    I call the file ‘Reader Love.’

  2. Gregory Bell on June 5, 2016 at 4:27 am

    I was positively affected by the “Space Ship Next Door” and I have read thousands of books. Wilbur Smith, Preston/Childs, Tom Clancy, Anne Rice, Clive Cussler, Patrick O’Brian, Stephen King, Clifford Simak, Robert Ludlum, Michener, and on and on… Many have stuck with me. A movie for the brain and heart that takes days and days to consume and digest. Thanks for the ride.

  3. Mark Gardner on June 16, 2016 at 8:02 am

    As an author and a book blogger, I have had two or three authors respond directly to a review. One of them, we got a dialog going, and now we’re friends. (Well, as friendly as two people can be, separated by the real world.) The other, who is pretty close to where I live decided that my qualm with the ending of his book decided to attack me. (We could’ve been champions of each other’s work, but after the attacks, I want to have nothing to do with him, his readers, or anyone who even knows him.) As a rule, I also don’t respond to reviews, and only interact with readers and (gasp!) fans if I’m at an event, they respond to one of my blog posts, or they drop me an email. (I’m friends with several Nigerian princes who want to make me a very wealthy honest American.) So, I get the “wanting to respond, but not wanting to respond” thing.

    As for the sequel, if you do decide to write in, I’ll hopefully be one of the first to read it.

  4. Howard on July 4, 2016 at 1:20 pm

    Oh heck with these nose in the air critics!
    Great book! Please write a sequel (soon please)

  5. Perry on October 24, 2016 at 2:18 pm

    I’d be satisfied either with a sequel or without one, as you said the book ended on a good note. It has room for a sequel, but a sequel isn’t needed since the major plotlines were tied off. I appreciate that you as an author are staying true to the idea of who your character is and are not trying to force that character to do more just for more books. I look forward to reading more of Annie, but if you can’t see anymore to her story I’m fine with where it ended and would hate to read something that you forced, because that’s when characters morph into something they were never intended to be.

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