There are two main types of series: those planned in advance (usually with the high-level plot scoped out across multiple books before the first one is written); and those that start off with what’s meant to be a standalone book. Mine is the latter!
When I wrote The Second Cup, which is my first novel, it was a standalone story about how the lives of a group of friends unravel when someone they know commits suicide. The book has four main characters and each of them is affected in a different way.
I wrote it to explore how the actions of someone else can affect you and the people around you. I likened it to chaos theory: the idea that a butterfly flapping its wings can cause a hurricane on the other side of the world.
Shortly after publishing The Second Cup I was diagnosed with ADHD. I realised I’d inadvertently given the condition to Beth, one of the characters in book. So I decided to release an “extended” edition of the book that included character interviews at the back to give Beth the opportunity to be diagnosed too.
Revisiting my novel made me itch to write again – something I was sure I’d never feel once my first book was finally published!
When I was researching ADHD to understand it more, I discovered it has an incredibly high suicide rate – easily as high as those suffering Bipolar and Borderline Personality Disorder. So I decided to write a second book exploring ADHD and suicidal thoughts.
And I found myself writing the second book in a series!
In The Victoria Lie, the main characters are different from those in The Second Cup: it’s a “thematic” series, where the same thread runs through each book. The novel looks at what happens when Zoe decides to kill herself by taking a Paracetamol overdose.
I chose a Paracetamol overdose because it can take up to 10 days to kill someone, so there would be a period of time where Zoe is in hospital and able to interact with the people whose lives are affected by her actions.
It’s another take on the butterfly effect idea explored in The Second Cup, but this time with the catalyst character alive to witness it and take part, rather than already being dead.
I think any death can be seen as the butterfly’s wings, having untold affects on people, even those who are not necessarily very close to the person who has died. I’m interested in looking at other ways in which death affects people and how they choose to live their lives – and I’m already mulling over ideas for the third book in the series.