On February 7, I finished my first novel Coffee Spills & Songs. Having slogged away at it for years, I’ll always remember the moment.
It was late in the evening, and I was behind the computer in our study; the door to the living room open. My husband was watching telly on the sofa.
I turned to him and said: ‘I’ve finished my novel.’
‘Congratulations,’ he replied, smiling at me. ‘How does it feel?’
I thought about that, and, well, it felt… weird. A little hard to believe, almost. After pouring every free minute I had into writing the darn thing, for a long time, I’d actually arrived at a point where I could tackle the next stage of my writing dreams: finding an agent and writing the sequel.
So far, I’ve written the synopsis and the first two chapters.
What I love most about writing my second book, is creating a new setting for my protagonist, Carys Wynne, and new characters for her to interact with. Carys will have to leave her maisonette in Kew, as her landlady Mrs. Meads is moving into a care home. I will take my characters to a wedding in Wales, and my protagonist Carys will have a rendezvous with her ex-lover, James, in Värmland, Sweden.
It does help when you’ve actually been to the places you write about. For Coffee Spills & Songs, I was able to draw on my experiences as a flight attendant for KLM airlines when I wrote the scenes that are set in Singapore and New York. Having lived in London for six years helped too, as that is where my protagonist, Carys, lives.
For the sequel, I fondly remember my trips to Sweden and one trip in particular, when my dear friend Christina and I drove to her (late) father’s cottage in Värmland and stayed with him for five days.
Where I’ve not been is Brecon, in Wales. I’d love to go there and look around and get a feel for the place—I’d like to revisit Värmland and Kent for the sequel too— but for now, I will have to help myself with the internet and google maps. Brilliant tools for writers who lack the funds to travel.
Apart from the setting, there are also new characters to develop for the sequel to Coffee Spills & Songs, like Fernando (Fern) and Madihah. Other characters, like Nain, Taid, and James need to be fleshed out more.
I’m looking forward to following my characters in their new phases of life and witnessing their struggles and their moments of joy.
I’m sure there will be struggles for me too, besides the joy of writing, as for Fern, I’ll have to delve into the world of stand-up comedy and learn what life is like after losing a limb.
I’ve started my research into living with a disability by reading Ella Dove‘s insightful novel Five Steps to Happiness, in which she’s fictionalised her mental and physical recovery after the loss of her leg.