OK, yes. I am actually going to talk about sequels.
Certainly I do think they have merit, lest I wouldn’t have written Peter Pan’s NeverWorld. In this post I explain a little about the wherefore of having written it.
I’m not speaking out against them. But a conversation with Clara and Banky a while back comes to mind.
Banky had finished my novel Midnight Chaser and still thought about it many days after reading it. (Yea, me!) Now, the thing is, which I’ve said many times, even on this site, that I really want Midnight Chaser to stand alone in book form. I don't envision a sequel…and I wondered if there could be one. Readers told me it certainly can go on…lots of adventures could still happen for some of the characters. So, why not write those? Because there is no substantial and plausible conflict to drive the story. Sure, seeing what else the characters get into would be fun… but not as amusing as for readers to think about on their own. Me writing it would just be a series of anecdotes. And where I can see that being appealing, again, in this instance, anything I could come up with is going to pale in comparison with the reader’s imagination.
But that didn’t stop Banky. He’d come up with a new scenario every so often. Complete with support from the text. But I’d always say no. Not in a cold “shoot first” way. I’d mull them over with him. But again, the compelling factor that would drive me to write it just did not exist. Banky seemed to agree each time. Even he admitted he'd been reaching. It would just be forcing it out.
That’s when Clara spoke up.
“Why are you TRYING to find a sequel to it?”
“Banky is, not me,” I said with a smile.
She then threw my protestations at me, pointing out that I’d go around asking people if they found a sequel in it. As if I wanted to find it…thou protest too much? Well, as I assured her, I can assure you, that adage doesn’t apply here. I really would like it to be self-contained. I’d ask people if they could continue it because I put effort into making it airtight other than the proverbial “leave them wanting more."
Clara, gladdened that I actually wanted a singular book, then expressed her displeasure at the sequel boom. If a book or movie is successful, BAM! there’s a sequel. Sure, it’s lucrative. But that’s a double edged sword. Is it always a good idea to create a sequel just to squeeze out more cash? No, of course not.
Now don’t get Clara wrong, she does see that in some cases a sequel is necessary. Or deserved. Or worthy. Or just happens. I pointed out The Chronicles of Narnia. C.S. Lewis didn’t know at first that there would be more. Whereas J.K. Rowling knew the arc of seven books in advance. Some stories expand.
But doesn’t it, just sometimes, seem like enough is enough? She's concerned that we're doing it "because we can." Art for profit, rather than profit from Art. Okay, as I type all this out, it no longer seems as profound as I once pretended it might be. Downright cliché. But if you could have heard the disdain and longing in Clara’s voice, maybe, just maybe, you’d be ponderous right now.
To cap this up, where did my intense wish that Midnight Chaser remain one book stem from? Being both the perpetrator and the victim of sequel crimes. I’ve wound up with a few series that I've set to finishing. And like Lewis, I had no idea there would be more to each book at the time. Yet like Clara, I felt overrun. But believe me, if the subsequent stories weren’t worth writing, I wouldn’t waste my time.
Sequels. A blessing AND a curse.