Welcome to the SNOB (Second Novel Ominipresent Blues). Whether you’re under contract or trying to snag another deal, you’re a professional now, with the pressures of a published novelist compounded with the still-present nagging self-doubt of the noobie.
Today’s guest is Rory Power, who grew up in New England, where she lives and works as a crime fiction editor and story consultant for TV adaptation. She received a Masters in Prose Fiction from the University of East Anglia, and thinks fondly of her time there, partially because she learned a lot but mostly because there were a ton of bunnies on campus. Her debut, Wilder Girls, released this week!
Is it hard to leave behind the first novel and focus on the second?
I’ve actually found it to be something of a relief! By this point I’ve read my debut, Wilder Girls, so many times, and it’s refreshing to be diving into something new, where I can make as many mistakes as I like with the knowledge that I’ll fix them later. It is hard, though, to keep myself from comparing this new book to the first. I’ve found myself struggling with where to draw the line between keeping a consistent brand, so to speak, and covering too much of the same ground.
At what point do you start diverting your energies from promoting your debut and writing / polishing / editing your second?
I try to do these at the same time. They require very different parts of my brain, and for me particularly, it’s good to not let myself get too deeply entrenched in any one project. I can definitely go full tunnel vision if I allow myself to, so it’s nice to have two things to bounce back and forth between. The trick, I think, is making sure that you don’t let one distract too much from the other. I try to set aside some time at the beginning and end of every day to check in on social media, and keep the middle of the day for drafting, revision, and other work on my second book.
Your first book landed an agent and an editor, and hopefully some fans. Who are you writing the second one for? Them, or yourself?
The original kernel of the story is absolutely for me, but I find that some of the ways in which I’ve developed this second book have been more for the reader. Through editing my debut novel I learned that there are some things I don’t personally value all that highly in a story that in fact matter hugely to most readers. For instance, I don’t mind at all when books are ambiguous or not entirely clear, but especially in books with a mystery at the core, a lot of readers like solid answers. So while the original idea, or the question, so to speak, of this book is for me, the answers, and the clarity with which I express them, are for my readers.
Is there a new balance of time management to address once you’re a professional author?
Absolutely. There are so many things you don’t quite realize will fall onto your plate - emails, so many emails - when you’re starting out, and dealing with them can absolutely sap your creativity. But there are so many ways to make your schedule work for you, whether it’s reserving different days for different tasks or dividing up your time into blocks. I’ve found that changing my location around really helps. I try to draft in one spot and do other work in another, which helps me keep my focus.
What did you do differently the second time around, with the perspective of a published author?
I outlined in much more detail this time. With my debut, I had all the time in the world to rip it apart and put it back together. Nobody was waiting on it. But this second book is on a deadline, and I don’t have the time to make as many mistakes. By outlining, and re-outlining, and outlining again, I’ve cut down on the rounds of revision I’ll have to make later. Or at least, hopefully I have.