Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Guest Blogger Carola Dunn

Second Book

Writing the second book in a series is an interesting experience. It's been 15 years since the last time I did it, with The Winter Garden Mystery, the second Daisy Dalrymple book. When I started work on A Colourful Death, my second Cornish mystery, I had a cast of characters created for a particular story, Manna from Hades. Now they had to be fitted into a new scenario.

My two protagonists were easy. The new story is, after all, made for the point-of-view characters, Eleanor Trewynn and DS Megan Pencarrow.

Eleanor is a widow who, after travelling the world working for an international charity, retires to a cottage in a Cornish fishing port. It's her friend and neighbour, artist Nick Gresham, who is arrested for the murder of a fellow-artist, so she (not to mention Nick!) is involved from the outset. Her niece, Megan, is brought into the case as a police detective, as is her irascible boss, DI Scumble.

As I wrote, the detectives' involvement took an unexpected turn, though, when they ended up on the same side as Eleanor, trying to prove Nick's innocence and find the real murderer.

I wasn't at all sure I had a place in the story for Jocelyn Stearns, the vicar's wife, a kind, efficient, bossy friend of Eleanor's. Then Megan started to worry about her elderly aunt's being alone, surrounded by suspects, in an artists' commune. Unbeknownst to the inspector, she phones Jocelyn and begs her to go and support Aunt Nell. Bingo, there's Joce thoroughly entwined in the tale.

I even managed to bring in Megan's ex-boyfriend, a Scotland Yard detective, in a peripheral role.

In Manna from Hades, Nick pushed his way into the story without any planning on my part. I didn't guess at the time that he was going to be a major figure in the second book. Detective Inspector Scumble is also a minor character, but interestingly, one review of A Colourful Death has as much to say about him and Jocelyn as about any of the other characters.

Clearly, every one of them is an essential part of the mix. So now, how to involve the whole crew in a third instalment?

Share your ideas and comments with Carola here. Also visit her website.


Msmstry said...

"Nick pushed his way in…" sounds like your characters often take control of your writing! Does this make things easier for you—or harder?

Msmstry said...

from Carola:

"I think it's easier--I get all sorts of plot twists from my interfering characters!"