An expression you will frequently hear in writing circles is “The Difficult Second Book”. The next book after a debut is supposed to be notoriously difficult to write. There are some supporting factors for this idea. The first book might have been written and revised over a long period of time, years even. If the writer attends courses or belongs to a professional organization it may also have had the benefit of all sorts of advice and critique services. Then, after the euphoria of actually being published, reality strikes. You have to do it all again. Your timetable is now in months, not years, and you have an editor to please! And the biggest factor of all – you have readers – people who hopefully enjoyed the first book and are looking for more of the same, expecting it to be as good or even better.
With this in mind, when I invited Claire Sheldon on to the blog today I suggested this was something we could discuss. Clare’s first published book – a twisty thriller called Perfect Lie came out in June last year. Now her second in the “Lisa Carter Files” - A Silent Child, arrived as an e-book and paperback from Ruby fiction on 23 March 2021, and is already picking up great reviews.
Claire was happy to talk about the work that went into both books – but was the second book a problem?
For the first book, Clare’s protagonist, Jen, didn’t start out as a detective
When Perfect Lie was originally written Jen was going to be a former MI5 agent - same storyline and with the same characters but Max and the team were MI5 agents and not detectives. I had some interest from another publisher and when working with them we decided that it was best if she was just a former detective which is how Perfect Lie made it into the format it is in today.
As often happens in the world of books, that deal didn’t actually materialise, but Claire had already taken all the best advice for would-be published authors and was well into writing the next book - A Silent Child.
So far, so good. Difficult second book, what difficult second book? It was all systems go for book three. (And book four) But then you throw in a pandemic.
I was all yeah I’m going to write book three and get it submitted when A Silent Child gets released! HA! I’ve been struggling! I have an idea for book four, contract permitting, but the events in book three have to happen first and any sort of creative writing has gone out the window. I don’t know if that is due to Lockdown and home schooling while spending most of my day sat at my computer working from home or the fact I brought a new computer game with my first Choc-lit pay cheque! The third book isn’t happening and won’t be being submitted by the 23rd March. Some say it’s the second book that is the killer, but in my case it is most definitely the third!
I have every sympathy for that “life intervenes” scenario. My first two books were already written when Choc-lit took me on – they’d been completed for a reality writing contest in America – then life threw me a couple of curve balls and there was a long gap before the next one came out. Claire clearly has her plans for books three and four mapped out. While she may not have met her own strict time table – and writers can be notorious perfectionists - there is still plenty of time for another installment to be ready for 2022. We will be cheering her on, and in the meantime there are Perfect Lie and A Silent Child to enjoy.
The brand new book – A Silent Child
The streets are no place for a child ...
Then a woman’s body is found in the river. Shortly afterwards, a young boy is discovered wandering the streets. He refuses to speak to anyone, just repeats one name over and over, to the confusion of most of the local authorities –but Jen knows exactly who he’s asking for, and it’s enough to make her blood run cold ...
The first in Series - Perfect Lie
Jen Garner tries her best to be ‘wife and mother of the year’. She helps organise school plays and accompanies her husband to company dinners, all with a big smile on her face.
But Jen has started to receive strange gifts in the post ... first flowers, then a sympathy card.
It could just be a joke; that’s what she tells herself. But then the final ‘gift’ arrives, and Jen has to question why somebody is so intent on shattering her life into pieces ...
Claire lives in Nottingham with her family, a cat called Whiskers and a dog called Podrick. She suffers from Multiple Sclerosis and as a result of the disease had to reduce her hours working in insurance for an Insolvency Insurer. This spare time enabled her to study a creative writing course which inspired her to write her debut, Perfect Lie. When Claire isn't working she enjoys reading crime novels and listening to music - the band Jimmy Eat World is her biggest muse! Claire is also an avid reader and book blogger. The inspiration for her novels comes from the hours spent watching The Bill with her grandparents and auntie; then later, Spooks and other detective programmes like Morse, A Touch of Frost and Midsummer Murders