I attended a book launch in July 2023, for a debut novel set in Tasmania. When Q&A came around, I asked the author: “what’s next?” She said she was already working on a new novel, but it wasn’t related, although she may put one of the characters from the last book into the next book.
“Like an Easter egg,” the moderator said. “Where you bring other characters from another book into a completely new story”.
The lightbulb in my head went on. It’s like someone finally explained to me how my brain works.
First, let me explain first what an ‘Easter Egg’ is, in case you’re not aware of the term. In literary terms, ‘Easter eggs’ are a little extra something that authors hide in their books for their fans to find. It can be a character, a place, an object, or a bit of dialogue.
But I’ve never thought of ‘Easter Eggs’ in a literary sense. Some of my themes, motifs, whatever you want to call them, would be classed as ‘Easter eggs’. For example, when I use the nickname “sweetness” in every book, it’s technically an ‘Easter egg’.
THE DECISIONS WE MAKE is not set on the Camino de Santiago, but in Tasmania. The Camino wisdom is woven into the story, but not in an obvious way. There are characters from CAMINO WANDERING in the book, but they aren’t the primary characters. The book is a standalone novel.
But I kept being told that I had to write a series. “It’s the only way to be successful as a writer,” I was told – repeatedly. My intuition was telling me otherwise – and you know something? I should have listened to my instincts.
When I did some research of my own, I discovered that writing series is popular with fantasy, science fiction, thrillers… but not so much with women’s fiction. When I look at some of the authors I love, whose books I devour, I realised that most of them are standalone books.
Plus, I’m beginning to realise that I’m not a series writer. I love standalone. When I think of my novel FINDING THE WAY (2024), I don’t want it to follow the same path (no pun intended) as CAMINO WANDERING. I need Merritt (the main character) to find another way for herself. There may be other characters from other novels (hello ‘Easter Eggs’) but it will be a standalone novel. Not connected to CAMINO WANDERING. Not connected to THE DECISIONS WE MAKE. And now I know that, I’m finding strength in the story now.
But this is what I love about self-publishing. I can make changes when it makes sense to do so. Sure, I have books already published that will need updating. New covers, disassociating them from each other etc… And those are time-consuming changes, but it feels right doing this.
My footing feels solid with this plan.
Besides, maybe a reader will read one of my books and wonder, “I wonder what else she has written?”