While researching a book I am insatiable. I want to know everything about my subject. I read thousands and thousands of pages. My brain crunches all of that research into a single story; details gleaned from my research rise up at just the right moment to illustrate the text. Of course, less than 2 percent of what I’ve read actually makes it into the finished book, but probably 80 percent of what I’ve learned is subtly woven into the story. When the book is finished I have no desire to return to that subject again. I feel as if I have exhausted the topic and the topic has exhausted me. And, therefore, I have little or no interest in writing sequels.
I think about that often. In fact at one point I considered writing a book in which a selection of characters from some of my favorite novels (written by other authors) live in a high rise apartment house called Century Towers. These characters begin to fade over time and when the day comes when no one reads their books they vanish completely; their apartments left silent and empty.
As for my own characters, I don’t wonder at all about them after I’ve completed the book. Funny, isn’t it?
I’m always reluctant to say definitively that I will or won’t do something, but so many years have passed between the research and writing of RIFKA and the present that it seems less and less likely a sequel will emerge. Thank you so much for asking, though, and for caring.
I am asked for a sequel to LETTERS FROM RIFKA more often than any other book I’ve published. And I have been tempted at times to give it a try. But the reality is I have said everything that needed to be said about Rifka in the one book. A sequel would, in the end, most likely disappoint you. Even though “Rifka” might have gone on to live a fascinating life, it was her transition from the Old World to the New World, her transition from childhood to adolescence, her transition from being nurtured to nurturing others that truly interested me which is why it is the part of her life I chose to write about. A sequel might be entertaining, diverting, but I’m not certain it would be compelling enough to win your hearts in the way they deserve to be won. But I thank you for wanting a sequel from the depths of my heart.
What a wonderful thing for an author to hear…that a reader has connected so deeply with the character and the story that the last page leaves a longing for more. Because readers, by inviting the story into their heads and hearts, help co-create the book with the author, the reader is left with the task of moving the characters beyond the last page through any number of possible scenarios until he or she is satisfied and able to move on to another book, another cast of engaging characters.
Alas, no. I understand entirely how you feel when you come to the end of a book and long to remain in that world beyond the last page. But it is very difficult to write a sequel that is as satisfying as the first book so I try to put everything I need to say about a character, a setting, a period into the one story.
Readers often ask about sequels. One young student threatened to do bodily harm to himself if I did not produce a follow-up to THE MUSIC OF DOLPHINS. (the word “sike” followed that threat which I’m interpreting as “just kidding.”)
But many of you are quite serious about your yearning for sequels. If I believed I had something new to say on the matter…if I believed I could write a sequel that was just as compelling and fresh as the original book…I’d give it a try.
But the fact is that once I’ve gone through a year or two of research, writing, and revision, once a book is published, I’ve said all I wanted (and needed) to say about those characters, that theme. It would feel onerous to go back and retrace a road already traveled.
For those of you who have been waiting for sequels all these years, please accept my heartfelt apologies. I think if I haven’t written a sequel by this point, it’s probably never going to happen. Console yourselves by diving into the sea of books waiting for you, a few of which you will love so much that they’ll become “desert island books”…books you’d wish to have with you if you were stranded on a desert island. This phrase I learned from Mr. O’Keefe and his remarkable third graders at the Center for Inquiry in Columbia, South Carolina.