Finding Their Voices
by Sarah Madison
A number of people, on finding out that I was finally releasing a sequel to Unspeakable Words, have asked me if it was difficult getting back into the heads of my characters. After all, it was almost four years since the release of the first in the Sixth Sense series, surely it was challenging find their voices again, right?
Well, the answer is yes and no. See, from the beginning, I’d intended for the story arc to span three novels. I had a good idea where I wanted to go with the series, and I was delighted at how well the first story had done. But Unspeakable Words was my first major story, and in the aftermath of its release, made a lot of newbie errors before I finished Walk a Mile.
- I got wound up in the hype of marketing, promoting, and branding to the point of forgetting what my real product was—not me, but the stories that I write. Still, so much emphasis and advice was put on having a presence on Facebook, on Twitter, on my website, that I spent a disproportionate amount of my precious little writing time on marketing. I hated it at first. I wrote blog posts about how all of us needed to ‘shut up and write’ but gradually, I developed a kind of addiction to the social media interaction. Lord knows it was easier to come home and mess around on Tumblr or Facebook than it was to open the WIP and iron out a thorny plot problem. The beauty of it all was that I could convince myself I was building my platform, and not just wasting time.
- I got seduced by other stories. Instead of continuing the series then and there, I got caught up in the adventures of other characters, promising myself there would be sequels to their stories as well. Yeah, we know how that goes…
- I let a few lukewarm reviews impact my decision to move forward with the story arc I had in mind. A lot of people really enjoyed Unspeakable Words. A few people didn’t, and said so. I was new to the game then and my skin wasn’t as thick as it is now. I lost confidence in the planned arc, doubting whether I should continue with the paranormal element when the paranormal element was at the heart of the story!
One day I realized that these stories were mine to do with what I will—and that I could only write what was in my heart and release it. If people loved it, yay! If not, well, it wasn’t exactly a tragedy, now was it? Once I decided that I was allowed to write my story my way, I picked up the threads of my old concepts, only to find out the characters were no longer speaking to me.
So I re-read their story. A lot. I recalled Parker’s stiff resistance to the introduction of the maverick John Flynn in to his neatly ordered world. Of how Flynn in many ways is more closed off and unapproachable than Parker, for while everyone feels the lash of Jerry’s tongue when he is displeased, Flynn hides his emotions behind a charming smile. I reacquainted myself with their lives: the Grimm Fairy Tale Killer, the cats, the night at the museum that changed everything.
At the time of the release of Unspeakable Words, a good friend made a playlist for me that served as a soundtrack for the story. I listened to that playlist over and over as I drove to work, the familiar songs evoking scenes from the story while at the same time letting my mind wander freely over the possibilities within the next tale.
Gradually, the characters began talking to me again. It was a struggle at first, but the more time I spent with them, the more willing they were to share more about themselves with me. Because it was a struggle, however, I vowed this time I wouldn’t wait before starting the next story in the series, and I am happy to say I am working on the sequel to Walk a Mile now.
About Walk A Mile
Six months after starting their hunt for a serial killer who is still at large, FBI agents Jerry Lee Parker and John Flynn are partners in every sense. But Jerry has serious doubts about their relationship and whether they would even be together if not for the way Flynn changed after touching a mysterious artifact in a museum.
Flynn hates the extraordinary power bestowed on him by the artifact and wants nothing more than to have a normal life again. Jerry fears that without the unusual connection they forged, Flynn will no longer want or need him. Chasing after a similar artifact takes them back to Flynn’s old stomping grounds in Washington D.C., where his newfound abilities uncover long-buried secrets, the kind people would kill to protect. But they aren’t the only ones looking for these powerful relics, and what they discover will threaten their relationship—and their lives
An Excerpt from Walk A Mile
Jerry returned his attention to the tableau unfolding in the aisle. Flynn was making his way casually toward Jerry; he yawned, taking his time. 15-A hesitated; Jerry could see that he had stepped into the aisle, but was thinking of sitting back down again. Just then, the door to the toilet opened and the toddler came out into the aisle. Picking up on the air of tension, the child immediately started to wail.
15-A snapped like a wire stretched beyond its tensile strength. Whipping off his sunglasses, he reached into the pocket of his hoodie and pulled out a glass vial. Holding it up high over his head for everyone to see, he shouted, “Everybody stay where you are!”
People glanced up and turned around in their seats, startled and immediately alarmed. 15-A looked around sharply, making sure that no one was trying to rush him. Several people had started halfway up out of their seats to see what was going on; Jerry knew they were remembering United Flight 93.
15-a moved his hand in a broad semi-circle so that everyone could see the vial tucked in his palm. “I have Sarin!” he announced. “If anyone moves, I break the vial. Someone make that child shut up!”
About Sarah Madison
Sarah Madison is a veterinarian with a big dog, an even bigger horse, too many cats, and a very patient boyfriend. She is a terrible cook, and concedes that her life would be easier if Purina made People Chow. She writes because it is cheaper than therapy.
As part of this blog tour, Sarah is giving away an eBook copy of Unspeakable Words to one lucky winner!! To enter, just click the link below!
Please be aware that the only way to enter the giveaway is to click the Rafflecopter link above. Any comments on this post will not count towards entering the giveaway unless otherwise stated but are still welcome anyway.
Don’t forget to check out Nikyta’s review of Walk A Mile to see what she thought of it!