In some ways, writing a novel that is part of a series is easier than writing a stand-alone. In others, it isn’t. Here’s a few examples:
1. You already have some of your cast in place … so you need to take extra care when creating new characters.
2. You know the universe, and some of what has gone before … but you need to convey what you know in a way that will satisfy a new reader who isn’t familiar with the set-up, whilst not boring an existing one who is.
3. Some of what happens will follow naturally and smoothly from what went before … and some of what might happen actually can’t, as a result of those earlier decisions.
So, here I am getting to grips with book four in a series of more-than-five, and the big story that I’m telling through all the smaller ones is rapidly gaining momentum. Keeping track of my own canon is both fiddly and intimidating, and that’s only going to get worse, but I also find that the weight of what has gone before anchors me. It’s great to have such a rich playground to frolic in. Stories begun in earlier books that I’m picking up in Bringer of Light, are going in directions that I had no inkling of when I wrote those books; at the same time a realisation I had back in the summer (about the male Sidhe, if you’re interested) means that the story is about to go off in a new (and hopefully interesting) direction. I’ve already seeded Guardians of Paradise with a few ideas that won’t pay off until later in the series, and will continue to do that in this novel, because this story is going to need a few more books yet. Although the actual extruding of the words is often a slow and painful process, at times like this I love my job.