An Unexpected Sequel

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In November 2016, my second novel was published. It was a very exciting time, but it wasn’t the second novel I’d planned on. As I’m now writing a fourth book in my Bird series, I’ve been reflecting on how stories can take you places you never expected.

When I wrote Bird, my first novel, it was only ever meant to be one story. But as I started writing it, the two main

characters, Beth and Simon, developed in ways I never thought they would. As with all characters, they took on a life of their own and they led me in a direction I hadn’t seen coming.

The way Bird ended wasn’t as I originally intended. Beth and Simon developed a much stronger connection than I’d expected them to, and it became apparent as the story went on that Beth had traits I hadn’t envisioned when I wrote her character profile. I could see far more to their story than my notes had prepared me for. However, even at this stage, I still hadn’t considered a sequel.

When I did settle on the ending, it was never meant to be a cliffhanger. I just didn’t see it that way. I saw it more as the only way the book could end. Beth had to have more to her and I wanted to give readers some insight into why she had such a strong connection with Simon and why she’d managed to deal with everything in the way that she had. But it was meant to be an extra detail that readers could then make their own minds up about, not a sudden tangent that would lead to a new novel.

It was only when people started reading the novel and I was getting feedback, that the idea of a sequel first entered my mind. I knew I had a lot more of Beth and Simon’s story to tell, and I loved the way that readers had started to care so much and were eager to find out more. So I decided it was only right to myself, Beth, Simon and my readers to explore what would happen next.

As I started to plan for book two, the ideas came thick and fast. The problem wasn’t what was going to happen, the problem was how do I fit all this into one book? The story I was developing was massive. I knew then and there that a third book had to be written – a third part to Beth and Simon’s story that would naturally finish their adventure.

So The Birds was published in 2016, and this was followed very closely by Free as a Bird in April 2017. I can’t believe now that I wrote it quite so fast.

I have to admit that as I reached the final words of Free as a Bird, I knew I’d miss Beth and Simon. They had become like family to me. Without thinking about it, my head was soon coming up with new ideas of what would happen to them next.

Over the past few years, Bird has remained my best-selling book, with the trilogy as a whole coming not far behind. And I still get people telling me they couldn’t put the books down. One review even said: “Started reading the first book and got so engrossed in the story and the characters that after three days I got to the end of book 3 wanting more. Please!”

After thinking about this so much since 2017, last year I admitted to myself that I wanted to write more about these characters, and I knew that my readers wanted to read more about them too. So I figured, why don’t I just write a fourth novel? I write, after all, because I really enjoy it. Therefore, I should keep writing the stories I want to tell.

I knew this new book would take a darker turn, and now I’m working on my second draft, I have to admit it’s even darker than I imagined it would be. But it’s the right story to tell. It was the only way to progress the characters, and I think it’s almost inevitable that all of this would happen.

I’m planning on a 2021 release. I’ll keep you posted on how it develops!

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