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Sunday, February 14, 2016

Sequel or Series?


In my several-novel world of a fictionalized Riverside, California, Paul’s is the best restaurant in town, and there are a couple of fairly entertaining bars: Mickey’s and The House of Ale, both of which feature live music. There is an occult bookstore, Mohini’s House of Dreams, just down the street from Mickey’s.
 
With the impending release of Wiley Royce Versus The Martians, I was asked recently if this was intentional. Did I already have it in mind that the places from one story, as well as the characters, would appear again later? Which stories should be considered as part of a series? Which as sequels? Is there a particular order?
 
Our indispensable friends at Dictionary.com define sequel as a literary work, movie, etc., that is complete in itself but continues the narrative of a preceding work, and series as (among other things) a group or a number of related or similar things, events, etc., arranged or occurring in temporal, spatial, or other order or succession.
 
So I guess you could look at the question of sequel or series? as continues the narrative versus related things arranged or occurring in succession.
 
So which novels are which?
 
Contrariwise is the story of Wes Thomerville and his band, Rolling Blackout, and even though he doesn’t appear as a speaking character in any other story, his person and music cast a long shadow in Corvino, Wiley Royce, Generally Recognized as Safe, and Wiley Royce Versus The Martians.
 
So, should they be read in order? Are they a series?
 
Darlene is one of Wes’s small group of adoring fans in Contrariwise. She has no dialogue. Her role is expanded a little bit in Corvino. It is Darlene that introduces the narrator to Wes’s music. A minor plot point in Corvino concerning one of Darlene’s friends and her choice in men becomes a major plot point in Wiley Royce; Darlene also plays a slightly bigger role in that one.
 
But these stories don’t continue the narrative so much as they are related things. One could read Contrariwise, Corvino, and Wiley Royce individually and get the gist of each, yet I guess these three could loosely be considered a series. Maybe. Sorta. If you want to get a more in-depth backstory to Wes, read Contrariwise first. If you want to further delve into Darlene’s obsession with him (as mentioned in Wiley Royce) Corvino before Wiley.
 
So, Contrariwise and Corvino could be considered precursors to Wiley Royce. But all three could also stand by themselves.
 
What about the series Tom and Wiley? It’s complicated . . .
 
We first meet Tom Bastion in This Carnival of Strange. Tom’s a nice guy; he owns a bookstore, quotes Shakespeare, has an aquaponics garden. He seems like the perfect man to Liz, but still . . . there’s just something a little bit off about him. There’s something just not quite right about Mr. Right.
 
Wiley Royce is a senior in high school, and an electronics genius. It’s 2033, and one of his favorite pastimes is to spy on people through their webcams. Once he shows his buddy Nate a clip of the girl Nate’s had a crush on since grade school, the adventure in manipulation begins.
 
Tom and Wiley become friends in Generally Recognized As Safe. Since he has always considered himself the smartest guy in the room, Wiley is appalled when Tom shows him all the poisons lurking in our food. A hacker from way back, Wiley uncovers the shady cabal responsible for poisoning the First World. Just what is he going to do about it?
 
The fourth book is Wiley Royce Versus The Martians.
 
“I knew he was in with a bad crowd,” Dr. Scott tells us in The Rocky Horror Picture Show. “But it was worse than I imagined . . . Aliens!” Tom and Wiley are confronted with the biggest threat in the history of mankind. But is it, really? Or are they just overreacting?
 
Generally Recognized As Safe is definitely the sequel to Wiley Royce: it continues the narrative of Wiley. But in Safe, I dragged in Tom from This Carnival of Strange; he is the perfect type to reveal secrets.
 
So Wiley Royce is not the sequel to This Carnival of Strange. But since Wiley Royce Versus The Martians could be the sequel to Wiley Royce or Generally Recognized As Safe or This Carnival of Strange, all four stories are now a series: Tom and Wiley.
 
But to answer the original question – Did I already have it in mind that the characters/places from one story would appear again later? – I have to say that neither Wiley nor Wes had even been imagined when I wrote This Carnival of Strange. The fact that the bar where they all hang out in Carnival is not called Mickey’s just goes to show that I did not indeed dream up all these connections ahead of time.
 
And now for the segue: Mickey’s chief competition in my Riverside is a bar called The House of Ale, which appears in Talk to a Movie Star and Where The Guitars Play. It’s first mentioned in Contrariwise as a place that almost gets shuts down for serving liquor to minors. As this is a plot point in Movie Star, I reused the locale. Movie Star and Guitars definitely fall under the definition of a series: related things, occurring in succession.
 
The local occult bookstore, Mohini’s House of Dreams, figures prominently in the One Wilde Ride Trilogy, Duck Feet, Corvino, and Where The Guitars Play. Yet these stories (except for the trilogy) are not related to each other, past the characters of Iris and Lily. If there are timelines, they are thus: the events in the trilogy occur before the events in Duck Feet. Corvino and Guitars come after that, but these two are neither series nor sequels.
 
Confused?
 
There are also three stories that do not relate in any way to the above or to each other: A Passing Resemblance, Crypsis and Two Green Keys, although a sequel to Two Green Keys may be in the works . . .
 
Thanks for all your support!!

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