Hello everyone! Today I am so pleased to welcome the amazing Kate McMurray to Joyfully Jay! Kate is here to talk about her new release, The Silence of the Stars. She has also brought a copy to give away to one lucky reader. So please join me in giving Kate a big welcome!
The Elusive Sequel
As a reader, I love connected books. Give me a spin-off or a sequel of a favorite book, and I will devour it and also probably read that brief two-page scene with the previous book’s characters, like, eight times because we got to see them again. I love when good world-building carries over, when characters are given new dimensions, when we see characters we know through slightly different perspectives. A good writer can take a character you hated from one book and completely redeem him in the next, or take a tertiary plot arc and flesh it out, or just take the romance between two characters to another level.
As a writer, I appreciate how hard they are to write. For me, anyway. I’ve intended to write sequels and spin-offs for a number of my previous books, and I’ve got those unfinished manuscripts still languishing on my hard drive. For example, I know what happens to Noah and Harry from In Hot Pursuit a few years later, and I know who Neal from The Boy Next Door ends up with, and at one point, I wrote a follow-up to Blind Items, but it’s not very good and so will stay hidden from public view until I figure it out. I also once plotted out a book for Kyle from Four Corners but never really made it past writing Chapter 2. In some cases, I hope to make time to revisit those books one day—I still really want to finish Neal’s story—but some of my published books really work better as stand-alones and my misguided attempts at sequels were just me being unable to let those characters go.
It’s tough writing a sequel. Sometimes it’s just that I have other projects and want to spend my time dabbling in other worlds. Sometimes I lose interest. Sometimes wanting to live up to expectations for the first book is crippling.
But sometimes there’s a character who will not shut up.
The Stars that Tremble was originally conceived as a stand-alone, although I kind of knew from the first moment Sandy walked into a scene that he had more to say than there was room for in the book. I wavered on whether I should really write a book for Sandy until basically every beta reader and editor who read The Stars that Tremble was like, “So Sandy’s getting his own book, right?”
Good thing Sandy had more to say. I mean, I was originally just going to write a Sandy-gets-his-HEA novella, but then there was enough story for a full novel. And here we are.
Writing a funny, snarky sidekick for a main character is one thing. I worried that Sandy’s sardonic voice would be a hard thing to sustain over a whole novel. Of course, that’s not all there is to Sandy. The humor is a defense mechanism, for one thing, and it masks a lot of old pain that he doesn’t feel like he can talk to anyone about. I also wanted to explore some of the same themes of The Stars that Tremble—the power of music, loss, opposites attracting—and so here is Sandy’s hero Everett, a violinist who has more in common with Sandy than either of them realizes at first.
In other words, it’s a compelling enough story to sustain my interest in writing a sequel, and I did so in a flurry last summer.
Mike from The Stars that Tremble is an important character in The Silence of the Stars, but this can be read as a standalone if you don’t mind knowing that Mike got an HEA in the previous book. (Er, spoiler alert? But it’s a romance, so…) The focus of this book is on Sandy and his journey to overcome some of his demons, and then Everett’s deciding if he can accept Sandy and all his baggage for the sake of love.
So perhaps my streak of being completely unable to finish a sequel is at long last over. That’s good news for the series I just pitched to my agent. (Teaser: more baseball may be coming your way in the near future.)
Sandy Sullivan has gotten so good at covering up his emotions, he’s waiting for someone to hand him an Oscar. On the outside, he’s a cheerful, funny guy, but his good humor is the only thing keeping awful memories from his army tours in Afghanistan at bay. Worse, Sandy is now adrift after breaking up with the only man who ever understood him, but who also wanted to fix him the way Sandy’s been fixing up his new house in Brooklyn.
Everett Blake seems to have everything: good looks, money, and talent to spare. He parlayed a successful career as a violinist into a teaching job at Manhattan’s elite Olcott School and until four months ago, he even had the perfect boyfriend. Now he’s on his own, trying to give his new apartment some personality, even if it is unkempt compared to the perfect home he shared with his ex. When hiring a contractor to renovate his kitchen sends Sandy barreling into his life, Everett is only too happy to accept the chaos… until he realizes he’s in over his head.
Kate McMurray is an award-winning author of gay romance and an unabashed romance fan. When she’s not writing, she works as a nonfiction editor, dabbles in various crafts, plays the violin, and is maybe a tiny bit obsessed with baseball. She’s currently serving as President of Rainbow Romance Writers, the LGBT romance chapter of Romance Writers of America. She lives in Brooklyn, NY. Visit her at www.katemcmurray.com.
Kate has brought a copy of The Silence of the Stars to give away to one lucky reader. (She will also give away a copy of The Stars that Tremble to that same winner if you don’t already have the first book!) Just leave a comment at the end of the post to enter. The contest ends on Friday, May 3oth at 11:59 pm EST.
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