In my first novel – Abide with Me – four years ago, not all of the characters made it through. Not having planned the book in any way, some of the characters that left its pages surprised me as much as it did them. It was just the way it was.
But not all fell by the wayside. Some did make it through.
I received a comment a few days ago from the brilliant American writer, Josh Stallings, telling me how much he was looking forward to reading the advance copy of April Skies – the eventual sequel to Abide with Me - I sent him. Josh said:
I can't wait. I'm finishing up Lou Berney's second book, and then I get to check in on my old friends. See where they have taken you.
So attached, and so real, had the characters in Abide with Me become for so many readers, writing a sequel held huge anxieties for me.
Old friends. Blimey!
I always knew these characters were an integral part of who I am. How could it be any other way, for any writer? Characters can only ever come from one place – the writer himself. So, as Josh said, where were they going to take me next?
The answer: to a place I already knew and didn’t want to go.
The characters were pushing me out of my writer’s world and out into the world outside.
The thing is, my life outside was fast falling apart. It was the last place I wanted to be.
For it was dark there.
And it hurt.
Yet go, I must.
And out of it came April Skies.