Literary Sequel Suitcase:
Your characters need to pack a suitcase for the next book in the series. I am paraphrasing author, Katie Hart Smith, who writes the Sacred Heart Series. Her imagery is useful – dare I confess – as I outline the first half of my sequel to Well of Rage.
Recently, my daughter and several other people were echoing my sentiments: we needed to find out what happened after Carly Redmund, the rookie cop in Mobile Alabama, solved the hate crime and cold-case murder of Terence Washington Williams.
After brainstorming, I’ve decided three years have passed, and Carly’s friends, Marci Eplund and Tim Price, have prospered at the Tribune and the coroner’s office, respectively. Carly has managed to stay low-key and below the radar. The administration has almost forgot her role in finding the murderer, one of their own, veteran Officer J.C. Grey, and his mental instability leading to the murder of his wife, Noreen, and his suicide.
Now, what is shuffling and rumbling around in this hypothetical suitcase as I cart it around with me? Pending questions and unresolved matters:
Some of the veterans blame Carly for pushing Officer J.C. Grey into a psychological corner and making the force look bad by exposing the coverup.
I’m pretty sure Carly’s reluctance or commitment issues concerning romantic entanglements and her conflict with her parents are festering.
Who is raising J.C. and Noreen Grey’s children?
Has success changed Marci and Tim’s relationships with Carly?
Because Billie Ray Cofer is in prison, what militia group member is the head of the Mobile’s white supremacy group? What part, if any, will the militia group play in this book?
What are the repercussions in Dorison Grey’s political career and marriage? Are he and Rose still married? How old are their children?
What did Elma choose to do with her life after Lukin’s murder? Has she escaped the cycle of domestic abuse for good?
Is Harold, Carly’s downstairs neighbor and song and dance man, still alive?
Has Mary Williams, Terence’s mom, stayed in touch?
After the rough draft, some of my favorite characters from the previous novel might be absent. I’ll be sad, but another book awaits.
NOTE: I was fortunate to hear Joyce Carol Oates speak at Emory about writing. She counted her thinking and settling/synthesizing periods as valid times of writing. So Permission Granted!