Monday, June 1, 2009

From Prequel to Sequel

I loved Sharon's last post because it brought to mind all the wonderful fictional worlds in which I have been privileged to spend time with fascinating characters. It's a wonderful thing for an author to create something so real that people want to linger there long after the story is over. Sort of like picking at the bones of a Thanksgiving dinner, sitting with glazed eyes nursing a cup of coffee, relishing the sense of connectedness. Taking time to appreciate all the hard work and preparation that went into the planning and the purchasing and the mixing and the baking of it. It's so much more gratifying to a writer when, instead of inhaling the story and moving on, readers comment about how much they enjoyed spending time with the characters and didn't want to let them go.

We're all familiar with book and movie sequels and how rare it is for a sequel to surpass the original in quality. Sequels often lack the punch and surprise of meeting the characters for the first time and journeying down unknown roads alongside them. But for die-hard fans, any sequel is better than none because it allows them to return to the world they love and stay awhile. In response to Sharon's last post, I commented that Anne Shirley's world at Green Gables was memorable and as rich and diverse as any fantasy world. People couldn't get enough, so a TV series aired with stories about orphan Sarah Stanley's adventures which involved characters from the Green Gables books. It was a weekly fix for fans, and even though Anne wasn't featured, it was still her story world. Now a prequel is out, titled Before Green Gables by Budge Wilson, which offers fans a chance to reconnect with favorite characters and a familiar setting.

I checked out other prequels and wasn't at all surprised to find that a majority were connected to science fiction, such as Prelude to Foundation by Isaac Asimov, and the Dune and Star Wars books. Star Trek took us to strange new worlds, but the latest movie is a prequel to the show where it all began. Also well represented were fantasy worlds such as Marion Zimmer Bradley's Avalon and Narnia in The Magician's Nephew. I had forgotten that C.S. Lewis's book was a prequel to The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Wardrobe was written first, but it was necessary to write Nephew to explain a few things, such as why there was a lampost in Narnia, and other pertinent info that would tie things up in the end. And before we assume that an author's intentions for writing a prequel or sequel were entirely mercenary, we should consider that they might simply be missing some very old and dear friends.

Do you have a favorite story that you wish had a prequel or sequel so that you could revisit the characters and the setting? Share it with us and you'll be entering a chance to win Bonnie Grove's new release, Talking to the Dead.

9 comments:

Latayne C Scott said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Latayne C Scott said...

I loved Daphne du Maurier when I was a young girl. Rebecca was one of my favorite books. (It's one of the few books I read whose movie adaptation did it some justice, I believe, by the way.)

The classic opening, "Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again" is superb. The world du Maurier created is unforgettable. I was fascinated by a recent prequel/sequel of sorts, Rebecca's Tale by Sally Beauman. It's revisionist history at its best -- if you can regard fiction as its own history, which I do.

Latayne C Scott
www.latayne.com

Debbie Fuller Thomas said...

I agree with you about Rebecca, Latayne. I think it really set the standard for its time. My Cousin Rachel was also haunting, and the movie version was adequate. Through movie treatments we can also revisit favorite story worlds - if they're satisfying to the readers.

Kathleen Popa said...

I'm trying to think of a time when I have read a sequel or prequel of a book, and I'm coming up with... are you ready?... Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. As I recall, the next book, Jo's Boy's seemed the same world, but... not. Like Jo, I wondered why everything had to change. Kind of sad.

All of which may explain why I tend not to read sequels.

Nichole Osborn said...

I'm just waiting for the sequel to Daisy Chain by Mary DeMuth.

K.M. Weiland said...

Generally speaking, I'm not a fan of series, and sequels and prequels only less so. I like a story to be contained fully in the arc of a book. Series and even sequels tend to dilute that. But what you said about a sequel, even if it's inevitably sub-par, being better than nothing when it gives you the opportunity to return the world of a beloved set of characters really resonated.

Sharon K. Souza said...

Debbie, your question has really made me think, and I still don't have an answer. Like K.M. said, I love the story to be contained within the arc of the novel. I like resolution on that last page. But like Nichole I'm waiting, quite impatiently, for Mary DeMuth's next book in the Defiance Texas Trilogy. Daisy Chain is an outstanding novel, and I look forward to the next in the series.

But back to your question. There are certainly characters I hate to say goodbye to, but not many whose story I feel is incomplete. When I get lonely for those characters--and I do--I'm never opposed to rereading the book. In fact, I doubt I have a favorite novel that I've only read once.

But is there one of my favorites I would like to have a prequel or sequel to? Honestly, none comes to mind. But I'm still thinking . . .

Debbie Fuller Thomas said...

K.M. I agree that a complete story arc should be fully contained in the a book, and maybe that's why so few sequels and prequels are resounding successes. Another reason may be that they aren't always written by the original author. When I finished Lord of the Rings I devoured The Silmarillion, but it was also written by Tolkien and that made it satisfying. So Nichole, Mary's sequel to Daisy Chain should be scrumptious.

Lori Benton said...

I always wanted there to be a little more to Christy, by Catherine Marshal. I guess it's not wanting to leave Cutter Gap and the characters. The story arc was complete, though it ended a abruptly for me, yet I'd have read a sequel, and I'm sure it would have been good.