What happens to the characters we become so invested in?



When I fall in love with a book or a movie, I’m desperate for the story to continue. The “what happens next?” question often looms large in my mind. Will problems solved, stay solved? Will happy people live happily ever after? So many unanswered questions for inquiring minds. What happens to the characters we become so invested in?

When I re-read The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson, I long to know whether Gilly ever sees her mother again. Just like I wonder if Carley in Lynda Mullaly Hunt's, One for the Murphys, will maintain a relationship with the Murphys as she grows up. Alas, my curiosity remains unfulfilled, because there are no sequels for these outstanding books.


So, I was thrilled to learn that another of my favorite books Boy on Hold by J D Spero (https://jdspero.wordpress.com/2020/09/02/signed-the-sequel) will have a sequel titled BOY RELEASED in 2021. I'm eager to know what’s in store for Tyler, Hen and Marcella after being drawn so completely into their powerful story.

Even though I am a wisher-of-sequels, I had no intention of writing one after my debut middle grade mystery, Swallowed by a Secret, was published in January 2020. My new writing centered on the lives of three brothers who perceive their parents in quite different ways. But after the first few chapters of this work-in-progress, the main characters in Swallowed by a Secret, Rocky and his assistant detective Olive, crept into my new story. They started to take over the plot until the two of them were, once again, front and center. The three brothers disappeared, because Rocky and Olive would not be denied.

Thus a sequel is born. My new book titled SPOOKED BY A SUSPICION will be published in August 2021 by Immortal Works. It opens when another major life change sends Rocky reeling and he calls on Olive to help him get his life back on track.

This book is a standalone, so unlike a series you do not have to read Swallowed by a Secret first to be fully engaged in this new book. Writing a standalone sequel is a balancing act. You must be on guard to avoid the many sand traps of divulging too much information from the first book, while still including hints about past events. No one in fiction or real life can compartmentalize their lives so much that their experiences have no bearing on their future.

Both of these books show how children use their agency to cope with hard events that life throws at them. We also learn that parents too struggle along with their kids in managing life's changes.

I hope readers of Swallowed by a Secret will be excited about catching up with Rocky one year later when he and his friends are about to graduate eighth grade, and he is unwilling to accept the news that will upend his life once again. Rocky’s theory is that one major life change should be the limit for a kid.

Copyright 2020 by Risa Nyman