Alice Raine is the best selling author of the Untwisted series and she’s also a fellow Accent Press-er *made-up word alert*, so I’m delighted to welcome her to my blog for the first time. Alice talks about the challenges of writing another series and the pressure that comes with success. Take it away, Alice!
Just getting a book published in the first place was a huge milestone to me, and one that I’d really never dreamed of actually achieving. But then amazingly, thanks to Accent Press, it happened, and to make it even more incredible, The Darkness Within Him become an amazon best seller, and somehow morphed into a four book series. It was (and still is) quite overwhelming. Putting the last dot on the final line of the Untwisted series was a big moment for me, and also a big relief; I’d finished the series, and what’s more, I was happy with the ending I’d come up with.
Phew. But then the email came from my publishers: “So, what do you want to write next?” I knew for sure that I wanted to continue my new career as an author, but they had asked a good question, what exactly did I want to write next? The characters I’d created in the first series, The Jackson brothers, still felt ingrained into my soul, and the idea of moving away from them was ridiculously difficult for me to consider.
If I’m truthful though, the main thing holding me back from diving in and starting on a new series was the fear of it flopping. The first series has done well, so now the second needs to be just as appealing, and that feels like a pretty big responsibility to carry. I have a truly amazing group of readers who follow me on Facebook, and have given constant support and encouragement throughout my writing journey (thank you all!), but as I started to receive messages like “I loved your first series, when’s the next one coming out?” I began to panic.
What if I let my readers down?
Will they hate the new series? Like it? Or love it? Funnily enough, I didn’t have any of these concerns when the first series came out, because I was unknown and had never put myself out there like that before. If people didn’t like it, so what? But now that I have written a series, which went on to sell relatively well, the idea that I might follow it up with something that disappoints people or causes them to yawn with indifference fills me with gut gnawing fear. Even worse would be if my fans wait with anticipation for the new series, and then find it disappointing. This is a very real fear to me, but I suppose as a writer we can never please everyone with our books, because reading tastes differ so much. What one person loves, another will chuck in the rubbish, as the varied (and occasionally cringe-worthy) reviews for my first series proved to me!
So basically that is the crux of the issue – I’m terrified that people might dislike the new series. As I’m sure most authors do, I absolutely dread hearing the words ‘It’s not as good as the last one…’ But realistically, in this career, that’s something we just have to deal with, or quit, and I am no quitter, I’m way too stubborn for that!
Eventually I donned my thick skin, pushed my fears aside, and decided to just go for it. At first I took a few weeks away from actual writing to look through the piles of documents I have stored on my laptop. This varies from notes and ideas right through to almost complete books. It was in amongst this that I found my new inspiration – Sean Phillips. A character I had created years ago who I was still rather attached to. I won’t give away too much at this point as you can meet Sean for yourself when the book is released on the 21st, but needless to say, the idea of developing him and bringing the character into the light excited me.
And so it began. I started a little tentatively, it felt odd to be writing a new series with different characters, especially because although this next instalment definitely still classes as erotica, I’ve quite drastically, and deliberately, changed my style. Gone is the dark, brooding back drop of the Untwisted series, and in its place is a slightly lighter series. Don’t get me wrong, there are still the possessive alpha males, highly charged intimate liaisons, and a few back stories of trouble and angst thrown into the mix, but as a whole it’s a little more easy going and humorous. (For any fans reading this and thinking “Oh no! It was the dark stuff I liked!”, then do not fear, after this series I plan to go back to the Untwisted theme and write a linked series set in Club Twist.)
Planning and writing the new series obviously brought with it a whole host of challenges; creating new settings, new dilemmas, new relationships, and of course, new characters. With these different characters come new voices, and because I write in the first person, it is vitally important to me that my readers can relate to each character, but also differentiate between them too. I would hate for all my characters to blur into one similar sounding person. I think (hope) that in this new series I’ve become better at individualising my characters to make them more ‘real’. I spent a great deal of time (hours and hours…) planning the four main characters, metaphorically crawling inside their heads to extract their personal mannerisms, favourite curses, pet names, habits, hang-ups and quirks. I feel like I know them personally now, and I hope this helps the readers relate to them too.
So, I’ve thrown caution to the wind and cracked on with it, and you know what? It’s been great fun. I’ve made every effort to improve my writing, make the flow of my books smoother, and basically try to keep on getting better, and really, I guess that is all I can ask of myself. Come bad reviews or good, Unmasked, book one of my new Revealed series will be hitting Kindles on November the 21st 2015. I will no doubt wait with baited breath for the first reviews to roll in, but I may also hide away like a hermit that day with a large tub of ice-cream and an even larger bottle of red wine!
To summarise, writing a second series is an utterly terrifying and yet oddly wonderful journey of self-improvement. I’ve come through it unscathed (except for my chewed fingernails), and now all I can do is hope that you fabulous readers enjoy the new voyage of imagination that I have penned!
Thanks for reading,
Connect with Alice:
Where to start? I’m really a lot more boring and normal than my books might suggest. It may disappoint some to know that I’ve never had an illicit affair with a domineering pianist, nor have I ever met or dated a man who frequented certain seedy clubs in London. I have however always had an overactive imagination, which may in part explain where my stories come from!
I was born and raised in London, and as such it holds a special place in my heart and is often used as a setting within my books. Some of my best times have been spent with friends wandering the markets of Camden or sipping beers in Covent Garden.
When I was eighteen I moved to Manchester to study, where I ended up living for over ten years. Originally I qualified as an archaeologist, but I soon realised that jobs in that sector were minimal and decided to put my enthusiasm to use by becoming a teacher. I taught for over seven years, but now I mostly spend my days engaging my wildly over active imagination by writing. I’ve lived in Manchester, Muscat (Oman) and briefly in France, but currently I’m in the process of moving back to London, a very exciting prospect for me. Where ever I find myself I live with my ever suffering, but hugely supportive husband, and our rescued street dog Ralph.