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The difficult second book…

We are obsessed with firsts – we can all name the first person on the moon or the first four-minute mile but anyone want to hazard a guess at the second? (For the record, it was Buzz Aldrin and John Landy, respectively). Because being first is so much more impressive, we also like to subdivide achievements – looking at records of people climbing Everest shows a huge range of ‘firsts’ from the first winter climb, the first up particular routes, to people who have reached the summit with various handicaps or medical conditions. My favourite was one was the first people to get married at the top of Everest – rather unfairly, it records their names but not that of the celebrant who conducted the ceremony: I now have a wonderful vision of a priest climbing an ice wall in his cassock.

And so it is with debut authors. The difficulty of getting published adds a certain frisson to a new author – here is someone who has struggled through and therefore must be good. By the second, there is a danger of not yet having made a name for yourself but losing the novelty of being a debut.

At this point, my inner critic kicks in to say ‘stop whining’. I have the luxury of writing a series, so, for me, the challenge was about how much backstory to give, not needing to come up with a completely new idea. For me, meeting my characters again felt like seeing old friends – familiar and comfortable (even though I put them through all sorts of troubles). So, I’m delighted my second book will be launching on 1 March and, who knows, it might also get to be alongside the Queen of Crime herself…

HG Waterstones

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