Every time we release a book, we’ll post an interview with its author during the month before the book is published. Our next novel, The Merry Band, comes out on August 2nd. The Merry Band is the sequel to The Disposable, which has been hailed as "a fun read for all...totally immersive and engaging from the first page" (Darcia Helle). Today we are sequel-interviewing Katherine Vick, the mastermind behind the exuberantly funny, anarchic adventures of Fodder and friends.
Thinklings: The first book of a series establishes its world, characters, and conflict; the final volume ties up loose ends; but middle books can be trickier to write. Without giving spoilers, how did you keep up the action and interest in this second book of your trilogy?
Katherine: By not intending to have a middle book! When I wrote this story, I, in essence, wrote one massive and chapter-less novel that I then divided up. Indeed, in the very beginning, ridiculous optimist that I was, I intended Fodder’s adventures to be over in a single volume. When it became clear this was untenable, I split my planned content in two and came up with a fine cliff-hanger to do so on. However, when I reached the point that is now the end of The Disposable, I realised the first book was going to be too long if I pushed on to my original intended cliff-hanger, and broke off early. I’d still intended to pack all my content into a second book but a series of fresh ideas blossomed, my later content expanded massively, and suddenly I knew I needed three.
The trouble was, there was absolutely no place to break beyond said cliff-hanger (now the finale of The Merry Band) that wouldn’t destroy the flow of the story – which meant I had plenty of final book but not enough for a decent middle volume. So, I then went back on myself and inserted a few chunks of extra content, using ideas I’d previously not been able to find a place for but had been sorry to lose, to give my characters a bit more space to develop to where I now knew they were going. This was the only content written knowing it was to be in a second book and was, in a way, filling in a gap that shouldn’t have been there in the first place. I hope my readers will feel the action and interest doesn’t suffer as a result!
T: Was it easier, harder, or about the same to write your sequel book, as compared to the first one in the series?
K: I think I’ve answered that above in a way – when I was writing, I considered myself to be writing one long piece split into chunks rather than an individual book. And I very much enjoyed going back and writing the extra material I added, as it gave me more of a chance to play, rather than trying to slim things down to fit to what turned out to be an unrealistic length!
T: Your characters continue to grow and develop. Are there any characters whose growth, or regression, you particularly enjoyed writing?
K: I think I enjoyed watching my characters develop across the board but if I had to pick a favourite, I’d say Pleasance, for reasons I can’t go into yet but I hope will become clearer to readers of The Merry Band. Her arc was very much my favourite to write.
T: With a whole set of new characters introduced, and some new locations, you’ve expanded your fictional world. What part of world-building do you like best?
K: All of it! I love creating maps, I love landscapes and history, I love imagining new cultures and how the characters immersed in it are likely to behave. It’s pure imagination based around my interests and in many ways, much more fun than actually writing. ;)
T: How do you feel when readers “ship” your characters? (For those who don’t know, this means mentally putting them in a romantic relationship, whether there’s evidence in the book or not.)
K: Having spent many years as part of several major online fandoms, I am very much aware that out there somewhere, someone is shipping just about every character with just about every other character in their fandom’s existence! Personally, I have very precise ideas of who my various characters would and wouldn’t be prepared to get involved with romantically. But I also know that, in releasing my characters into the world, I have given up any control I might have had over that and any given reader may formulate their own ships, regardless of what I think, because everyone reads the book their own way! I might agree or I might disagree but I shan’t begrudge them.
T: A lot of us, including you, honed our writing skills through creating fanfiction. Would you read fanfiction stories that were written for your books?
K: Again, the answer to this is partly covered above. I have a very definite idea of my characters and what they would and wouldn’t do. When I wrote fanfiction, I was always very careful to keep as close as I could to the canon of the TV series/books I was writing about, because in writing my own versions, I wanted to make sure to respect the people in whose swimming pool I was dipping my toes. So, in one respect, I would be curious to know what people were writing, but in another, my inner control freak probably wouldn’t be desperately happy if anything didn’t sit right! I suspect I would find it to be both flattering and disconcerting at the same time!
T: Any chance you’ll write the lyrics to the song about gremlins?
K: Well. Time to confess. The song about gremlins is a fond allusion to a similarly named song in a 1980s British sitcom, sung by the lead character whenever he becomes even the slightest bit drunk. I’m sure those who have seen it will know exactly what I’m talking about and probably know the words already... ;)
T: Thanks for the lovely answers, Katherine! We're off to research that song. :)
While you're eagerly waiting for The Merry Band, gentle readers, check out Katherine's first author interview and her full-of-fun author Facebook page. If you enjoyed The Disposable, we would love it if you left it an Amazon review, which you can do here!
What's your favorite silly song?