Blog Tour: “Once We Were” author Kat Zhang talks writing sequels and more!

Once We WereHey, everyone! Welcome to our stop (and the final stop) on the “Once We Were” blog tour! Ashleigh and I are really excited to be on the tour, and so we asked Kat to write about her feels on writing a sequel, and some other stuff. For a debut author, I imagine that it must be daunting.

So for now, sit back, relax, and read Kat’s response below the jump. Remember, “Once We Were” is out now from HarperTeen, so go out and read it! Seriously. It’s awesome.

Writing a sequel is a funny thing. It’s no secret that many authors, by the time their first book comes out, have a few unpublished manuscripts packed away in a trunk somewhere. But how many have written sequels before? It’s a common idea in publishing that yet-to-be writers shouldn’t even bother writing sequels before selling the first book, because there’s no guarantee that the first (or series) will ever sell.


I think many authors, like me, go into sequel-writing with absolutely no sequel-writing experience. The question then is, of course—is there such a thing as “sequel-writing-skills”? Is writing a sequel different from just writing any book? In my opinion, the answer is yes and no…but mostly yes.


Of course, the basic rules of Good Storytelling still apply. Like any other book, a sequel needs good character arcs, a strong plot, etc., etc. But there are challenges unique to a second book, as well. Will people who loved the first book love the second one? Will they think it’s too different? Too similar? Will it have that dreaded “middle book syndrome”? Will you disappoint the readers?


On a more behind-the-scenes level, a sequel brings on all kinds of new pressures. For many writers, it’s the first time they’ve written on contract, with deadlines from the very beginning. Drafting a book over the course of a year and drafting one in a couple months are very different beasts! Plus, you have all these new responsibilities about marketing the first book, which often take up a lot of time.


Personally, I’ve always loved sequels for the same reason I love television shows. I adore entering a story already knowing the characters, and feeling like I have history with them. I like seeing these characters expand and grow beyond the people they were in the first book, revealing new facets. The addition of a new character (or characters) to mix things up and change the dynamics, is always fun, too!


Of course, all this needs to be tied up with a plot that isn’t so similar to the first one that it feels like we’re rehashing old ground, but not so wildly different it feels like an entirely different series. …So, really, no pressure, right? 😉


In some ways, writing and releasing a sequel is like being a sophomore in high school (or college, I suppose). You’ve been around the block. You know your way around campus, more or less…at the very least, you’re no longer getting lost trying to find the cafeteria. The initial overwhelming OMGWHAT of freshman year has faded, and even though the excitement is definitely still there, it’s a new kind of excitement. You’re no longer the “new kid,” and you’ve probably carved out a bit of a niche for yourself, found your friends, and your clubs, etc.


But it’s still only sophomore year! There’s so much more to figure out, and learn, and discover. You encounter things you thought you knew, only to find out you really didn’t. Entirely new things pop up. Things change. You change. You learn.



…Then it’s on to year number three 🙂


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