To Prequel or Not to Prequel…That is the Question….

Years ago, when I was just starting to write Chasing the Wind, I got some interesting responses from people in publishing, some of whom I’d known for years. One agent to whom I showed the synopsis told me it was a movie, not a novel. I considered writing it as a screenplay, but as I’ve said before, selling your book to Hollywood is a lot like putting a baby up for adoption. If you ever do see it again, you probably won’t recognize it. Unless you’re J.K. Rowling, Stephen King, Suzanne Collins or a few other top authors, you sign away all control of your work when you sell it to Hollywood. And if you’re a screenwriter, if you want to maintain control of your work, you’d better also be the director.

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But I’m getting off track here. It was also suggested that Chasing the Wind should be the second book in the trilogy. One agent told me she thought I should start much earlier in the storyline–go back to the beginning, to the birth of Andrew Stewart; to his troubled young mother, who made a deal with the devil to provide for her child; to the wealthy Brit she married, who had also made a devil’s bargain to save his failing business; to the egomaniacal scientist who carried out illegal experiments in human cloning, whose interest in young Andrew began long before the boy became his protege. And then there was Andrew himself, who, after his mother’s death, was deeply troubled and shut down his emotions in a bid to avoid ever being hurt again. Andrew’s mother dies early on, and Andrew himself is a bit of a jerk as he grows up. So how was I going to make any of these people sympathetic? How could I get readers to care enough to read the story to the end and actually like it?

I’d had this problem with Final Hours. I understood Jamie, the protagonist in that novel, and so did some of the readers, according to the reviews–but they either loved him or hated him.

So the untitled Chasing the Wind prequel has remained on the back burner for years. I’ve revisited it several times, trying to figure out how to make it work–most recently this week, when I discovered there was now a TV version of the Damien Thorn character from The Omen movies. Damien, as anyone who’s seen the movies knows, is most definitely not a sympathetic character.

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Again, I asked myself if my prequel could work. I mentioned it to my partner in crime, William Kendall, who suggested a prequel to The Unicorn’s Daughter might be a better idea. I gave it some thought. He’s right. There is a story there to tell, and though James Lynde came off as having ice water for blood in the early chapters of that novel, his backstory would make him a sympathetic character. And World War II Europe would definitely make for an interesting backdrop (Judith Krantz’s Mistral’s Daughter, one of my all-time favorite novels, was partially set in that time period in France),

Will I write either prequel? I still have five unfinished projects waiting to be written, so who knows?

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