When is the best time to start talking about the next book?
My own first response to that question would tend to be: the day it goes on sale.
But common sense—and everything I have read about publishing and marketing—says that an author should start talking about an upcoming book somewhat sooner than that. After all, how can readers build up interest in a book if they do not know that it is on its way?
Fair enough. So be advised that, even though I cannot tell you the exact date on which it will be published, my second novel will be released sometime in the hopefully not-too-awfully-distant future. Is that vague enough for you?
So what can I tell you about it? Well, I suppose the main thing to know is that, if you read and enjoyed my first book Maximilian and Carlotta Are Dead, well, the next book will be nothing like that.
I could list all the differences for you. For example, Max & Carly was written in the first person. The new book will be in the third person. The first book was set in a distinct real time and place in recent history. The new book is a fantasy tale in a completely made-up world. The first book had some (actually, a lot of) very bad language in it, not too mention some sex and drug use, and my own daughter is not allowed to read it until she has reached her fifteenth birthday. The new book is suitable for most ages, although it does have some incidences of kind of brutal fantasy world violence.
In other words, the two books are like chalk and cheese. Except that, in a strange way, they both actually kind of tell the same story. The fact is that both are about quests undertaken by lovesick male teenagers who come to experience some pretty strong male bonding. But if you were hoping for the further adventures of Dallas Green, well, sorry. (I’m still going back and forth in my head as to when or whether to write a sequel to Max & Carly.)
Underlining that comparison for you is probably not the best way to drum up interest in the new book. But then I think I have been pretty up-front all along that I am not really great at this marketing stuff. It probably also will not help to confess that I am looking forward very much to writing about something other than lovesick male teenagers on quests. Subsequent books—yes, I have them largely worked out in my head already—will be about the concerns of more mature individuals, and I cannot wait to get inside those heads instead.
Having now drastically lowered expectations for the second book, let me say that it is a story that is pretty close to my heart. I first conceived it when I was, yes, a lovesick male teenager. It was inspired by things I was reading and watching at the time, which strongly featured J.R.R. Tolkien’s famous trilogy, the TV series Dark Shadows and the full range of Marvel comic books. The first version was written in Spanish as a school assignment. To this day there are people I knew in high school who remember the story and occasionally mention it to me. In subsequent years, I rewrote it and expanded it once or twice it on my own time for my own self-entertainment. Then I put it away for many years—until I finally reworked it again, this time in English, as a bedtime story for my daughter.
Of course, in the new iteration I have accumulated additional influences since the days when I was a lovesick male teenager. For example, now I think I detect a dash of J.J. Abrams and George R.R. Martin in there as well. At least saying that should generate more interest than just saying it’s basically the same book I wrote before.
I am now in the final stretch of my first draft. Come back here—or better yet, subscribe to this blog’s RSS feed—for future occasional progress updates. There is a button to do this over to the right side of this page.