This confession will not surprise you: I love to write long stories. It is always a little bit hard for me to leave the characters behind when a book is finished. Certainly I try to make them all happy before, so I know that they are happy in their world and they can be left alone. (Normally they are in love in the end of a book – and prefer not to be disturbed.) But a few years later, when the children have grown up, I cannot restrain myself to have another look at them. And then normally I find myself and my old friends in the middle of a new story…
This time, I also wanted to write a sequel, because my novels, playing in the Caribbean, are not only love and family stories. These novels also tell the story of slavery in this part of the world, they inform about the living condition of black slaves in the 18th century and their fight for freedom. It was interesting to do the research about it – I learned a lot about different countries and different religions and their attitude towards slaves and human dignity. In Roman Catholic colonies for example, the slaves were treated very different to Protestant dominated societies. And also I found a lot of very famous stories about slave leaders and their charismatic characters. In the first novel I told the story of Granny Nanny in Jamaica, and now one of the historical protagonists is Macandel – one of the most colorful figures in the history of slavery. Their stories needed to be told!
I always love to revisit my characters – especially Nora, who is one of my famous characters in all of my books – and to create new ones. Okay, we know Deirdre and Jefe from the first novel, but we left them, when they were small children. Now, by revisiting them, I had to find out, how their characters had developed. Which is not only a question of imagination: to write an authentic story, I also have to keep in mind, under which conditions and circumstances this children grew up, what they were told about their real parents and a lot of other things. It is always much more complicated to write the second part of a story than the original novel. For the construction of the first story for example, an author can choose the historical background. It does not matter whether the story starts a few years later or earlier. But in the second part everything has to fit. I use to compare it with the placement of a Patience: I have to find a historical background that fits to the age of my protagonists –or orientate the story of my protagonists on the historical background. Normally I do both of it, I try to find the perfect and most authentic mix of fiction and history.
And yes, I enjoyed, meeting Nora and Doug again, and I hope that my readers will feel the same!
A huge thank you to Sarah Lark and Hayley at ed pr.
Don’t forget to get hold of your copy of Island of the Red Mangroves (released 6th July 2015)