I’ve been working on a second book about the Wrens. How could I help it? I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to Mo and that Wild Child. Besides, the first book ended in what my friend called such a “cuspy way”. What would happen next? I wanted to know, too. I began to think of a second book as the other half of a walnut. You know how you can crack one so that the two halves are still connected by a nutty little hinge, and can swing back together to make a whole? Like that.
But it’s been harder than I expected. As well as I thought I knew my characters, they’ve changed. In fact, while FOX STREET left Mo on the cusp of change, the new book lands her smack in the middle of it. Of course when I write for grown-ups, my characters change some, too. But kid characters evolve in every way–they literally grow up! They learn a dozen new things a day. Their feet get too big for their shoes. They become more civilized, for better or for worse.
And so, while I wouldn’t go so far as to say the Wild Child has become the Mild Child, Dottie is surely older and wiser in the new book. And Mo has to get used to that, along with a million other things. Not only Mo–me, too. Writing a sequel isn’t just putting old characters in new situations, I’ve discovered. It’s more like a long friendship, where you go through stuff together. Some things between you stay constant. Other things not so much. You keep learning about each other–and it’s not always easy!
It is, though, the meat (or if you’re a vegetarian, the tempeh) of life.