Guest Author Nancy Holzner
They call it Deadtown: the city’s quarantined section for its inhuman and undead residents. Most humans stay far from its borders — but Victory Vaughn, Boston’s only professional demon slayer, isn’t exactly human…
Vicky’s demanding job keeping the city safe from all manner of monsters is one reason her relationship with workaholic lawyer (and werewolf) Alexander Kane is in constant limbo. Throw in a foolhardy zombie apprentice, a mysterious demon-plagued client, and a suspicious research facility that’s taken an unwelcome interest in her family, and Vicky’s love life has as much of a pulse as Deadtown’s citizens.
But now Vicky’s got bigger things to worry about. The Hellion who murdered her father ten years ago has somehow broken through Boston’s magical protections. The Hellion is a ruthless force of destruction with a personal grudge against Vicky, and she’s the only one who can stop the demon before it destroys the city and everyone in it.
And if that didn't convince you, check out my review here!
By Nancy Holzner
Deadtown is the first book in a series featuring Vicky Vaughn, and currently I’m in the process of revising the sequel. When I wrote Deadtown, I wrote it as a self-contained book, but one whose story I hoped to expand. As a debut urban fantasy novelist, I knew that I had to prove myself with one book before I started thinking about writing a whole series. At the same time, though, I fell crazy in love with my characters and hoped other people would, too—at least enough to want to know what happens next.
So I was very, very happy when Ace offered me a contract for two books—I could write a sequel! And if readers liked those two books, maybe there’d be more to follow.
Writing Deadtown was the most fun I ever had writing anything. The world-building was absorbing, the characters felt like friends I knew well, and the conflicts they faced were both interesting and exciting to me. It wasn’t a book that wrote itself, but writing it—taking it from idea to sketch to finished manuscript—was a joy.
Writing the sequel has been fun, too. But a sequel presents a set of challenges that I'd never really thought about until one day I sat down to write and there they were, staring me in the face.
The first and biggest challenge, right there on page 1, is bringing readers into your world. In a first book, everyone starts from the same place: No one has encountered the characters or the world before, so you have to introduce those things while telling a forward-moving story. That’s hard enough in itself. But in a second book, you’re now dealing with two sets of readers: those who’ve read Book 1 and those who are stepping into your world for the first time in Book 2. You have to get your new readers oriented without boring those readers who liked the first book enough to come back for more. It’s a real balancing act.
And that’s not all. Because Book 2 builds from the events that happened in Book 1, you need to say just enough about what happened in the first book to make cause-and-effect clear, but without giving away the whole plot of that book. As a reader, I occasionally read series books out of order, and I don’t like it when the author summarizes the previous book before things get moving in this one. For one thing, summary is boring. For another, what if I wanted to go back and read the previous book later, even though I’m taking things out of order? Now that I’ve read the summary, there’s no point.
(And if I did read the books in order, the summary is less a memory-refresher than something to skim so I can find the place where this story gets going.)
The second challenge is continuity. When I was writing the sequel, my memory of the first book wasn’t always as crystal-clear as I thought it was. Shortly after I’d submitted the manuscript for Book 2, I received Deadtown’s page proofs so I could give them a final check before the book went to the printer. Re-reading Deadtown with its sequel still fresh in my mind was an eye-opener. Were Kane’s eyes really that color? And how did I get the name wrong of the politician with a zombie daughter? I had to make a list of things to correct in the sequel during revisions. I’ve started to put together a Deadtown “Bible” that will serve as a reference guide as I go forward in the series.
The final challenge is where to end. Now that I’m thinking in terms of a series—not just a single book that might lead to a series—the story arc has lengthened. I’m thinking further ahead. Situations that arise in Book 2 become seeds for complications and conflicts in Books 3 and 4. And that’s great, because the story becomes richer and more complex. But taking a longer view also means that you can’t give in to the temptation to write a book that’s little more than a bridge between two others. I like a good cliffhanger at the end of a scene, but not at the end of a book—especially if I’ve got to wait a whole year to find out what happens. I don’t mind when the end of a book glances toward the next one, but the story of this book must be wrapped up for the read to satisfy.
As a reader, I know what I like and don’t like in a series. I like a series that moves forward briskly, without a lot of repetition, and that deepens it relationships and conflicts while making each book its own story. As a writer, I’m just beginning to learn how to deliver that.
What are some of your likes and dislikes when reading a series? What makes you feel that a series has gone on too long? What series do you wish would go on and on forever?
Nancy is giving away a copy of Deadtown to one reader who leaves a comment answering the above questions.
This contest is open to everyone, everywhere!
Due to unclaimed prizes, you must leave an email address to be entered in this contest if you don't have a blog through which I can contact you.
The contest will run for one week, ending Monday February 15th at 5:00 pm EST with the winner announced shortly after.
Rachael has written over 300 reviews for various publications online. She started Enchanted by Books to have the chance to showcase a large variety of different genres. Never satisfied with just one type of book she reads them all. Romance, chick lit, paranormal, urban fantasy, mysteries, young adult, memoirs, self help, the variety is endless. Rachael lives in New Jersey and loves meeting new people to chat books with online. Please leave a comment and share your opinion!