A guest blog post by Sandra Lindsey
I recently had the pleasure of chatting with Elin Gregory on a sunny day in her home town. Among the many things we discussed were sequels, as we’ve both been working on sequels to our books – UNDER LEADEN SKIES, and ELEVENTH HOUR – which were released by Manifold Press on the same day in 2016.
“Do you regret killing off [character]*?” she asked me at one point. My answer was an enthusiastic, “No, not at all!”
I don’t want to give the impression here that I’m an author who scribbles away joyfully killing off characters, but for the story I was telling in UNDER LEADEN SKIES it is necessary, not only from a plot point of view, but also because it felt dishonest to write a book set in wartime without losing at least one major character. I’m lucky not to have lived through such times, but in all my reading, research, and stories of the war I heard growing up, I’ve not come across a single account where loss of friends or family doesn’t feature. To write a story where all my most beloved characters remain alive felt like a betrayal or denial of the grief that war brings into people’s lives.
That said, the death of that character being so firmly written and out in the world in published form has presented me, as the author, with a bit of a dilemma. Ever since he first appeared on the page – and hijacked the story, pushing it onto a different and more interesting path than my original rather pedestrian ideas – I’ve wanted to write his story as well. He’s such a strong character, with an infectious charm and light-hearted view of life that I’d love to write it in a similar way to UNDER LEADEN SKIES, as the character’s own memoir, but with the ending I’ve already written to his life, it’s taken me a while to work out how to do that without delving into the world of ghosts or suchlike. I think I’ve finally found a solution, though, and in time I hope to share the resulting tale with you as well.
All the work I’ve done so far on the sequel has confirmed one thing in my mind: I really regret giving Teddy’s grandfather a title other than “Mr”! Pass the Debrett’s, would you?
*Anyone who has read UNDER LEADEN SKIES will know which character I am referring to.