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What next?

I’m trying something different. It’s not a New Year’s resolution or anything like that; it’s something I’ve been working on it for a few months – I’m writing a stand-alone novel after completing the fourth in the Kate Fletcher series. When Bloodhound published my first novel, I knew that I had another one sitting on my computer which needed a bit of polishing, but which would probably be a suitable follow-up to Forgotten. Then, after Fracture was published, I started writing the first Kate Fletcher book – Closer to Home – and realised that it was probably going to be the first in a series. Two years after the publication of Closer to Home, I submitted Kate Fletcher 4 and was thrilled to hear that Bloodhound liked it. It will be published on February 25th this year.

I was then left with a dilemma: to continue the series (I have a few ideas) or to take a break and write something different. I opted for the latter. I’m currently working on something that is a mix of psychological thriller and police procedural with all the action taking place over the course of a single day. I like the idea; I like some of the characters and the setting. But…it’s not Kate and her team.

13,000 words in and I’m starting to feel a bit unsure. Have I made a mistake? Should I shelve this novel and go back to the series? A big part of me wants to do exactly that. It’s safe and comfortable. I know the characters and I have plans for where to take them next. They’re still bouncing around in my head, giving me ideas and dropping hints about what they’re likely to be doing. My main concern is that the series might get a bit stale and formulaic and I’m not ready for that to happen. I’m a member of a number of online book groups and there are often discussions about how some very popular authors are perceived to have ‘lost it’ when their series goes off the boil.

I’ve thought about writing two novels at the same time, but I don’t think that way of working is right for me. I can’t read two books at the same time because I get the characters and storylines muddled, so writing two would probably be even more confusing. I’ve also thought alternating writing days and planning days so that, when I’ve finished this current project, I can go straight back to Kate and get stuck in to number five in the series. However, I’d need to make sure that I don’t mix up the plots of the current and future books.

So, for now, I’m sticking with what I’m writing and letting Kate Fletcher 5,6,7… marinate in my brain. Hopefully she’ll be back feeling refreshed by the end of this year. In the meantime, I need to find a way to love the book I’m writing and to stop thinking ‘but it’s not Kate!’

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