At long last, A Song at Twilight–the sequel to Waltz with a Stranger–is here! And just like I was ten months ago, I’m excited, apprehensive, thrilled, and eager to see the book officially out in the world. Will there ever come a day when I greet a new release with a reaction bordering on the jaded and blasé? I sure hope not!
You learn something new with each book you write, I’ve found. With Waltz with a Stranger, I discovered it was possible to keep going, even when life hands you disappointments and distractions by the truckload. And that perseverance pays off, because Waltz was the book that sold first.
With A Song at Twilight, I learned that I could write to a deadline, in spite of the prospect making me break out in a cold sweat. Not that I haven’t written to deadline before and successfully, but an article of some 10-20 pages doesn’t inspire the same degree of abject terror that a 400-page manuscript does!
On the creative front, A Song at Twilight taught me to take risks. Because when I first started to develop Robin and Sophie’s romance, I had only the sketchiest idea of where I was headed. I only knew that the book needed to be its own thing and that I didn’t want to write a story that was just like the one I’d finished telling. So I took a hard look at where I’d left these two characters–smiling tentatively at each other across the breakfast table, hoping that their budding romance might yet have a chance–and mapped out the next year during which they grew still closer . . . and then blew it all to kingdom come. The fallout from that sent them reeling in opposite directions, forcing them to rebuild their lives without the consolation of each other’s company, and making them stronger–and in my opinion, more interesting–characters. Characters with the will to fight for each other when fate unexpectedly hands them a second chance. Characters who understand how precious real love is, and that it’s worth the effort to hold on to it when you find it.
Other risks included taking a non-linear approach to the story, weaving back and forth in time during the first third of the book to present the most complete picture of Robin and Sophie’s relationship. And dealing with the necessity of overlap between A Song at Twilight and Waltz with a Stranger. Generally, I prefer sequels that are less intertwined with previous books in a series. But this time, whether I liked it or not, some key events from the first book required revisiting from a different perspective in the second book, and I could not ignore the repercussions of those events for Robin and Sophie. That also involved the reappearance of a character who’d caused considerable trouble for the “good guys” in Waltz with a Stranger. While his actions there were exposed and successfully thwarted, his ill-will towards Robin, in particular, persisted–to the point where I realized he was not going to go quietly and that he’d have to be dealt with more conclusively this time around. I can only hope that readers relish his eventual comeuppance!
Some of these risks may work for readers, some may not. But I hope that those who enjoyed my first book will be willing to give A Song at Twilight a chance as well. Because this book grew into my heart as I got to know it better, in spite of or perhaps even because of all the challenges it presented to me.
Anticipating the question “Is it necessary to read Waltz with a Stranger before reading A Song at Twilight?” Well, I don’t think you have to, necessarily (a reviewer from The Romance Reviews understood–mostly–and enjoyed Book #2 without having read Book #1), but you might get more out of it if you do.
Which is why I’m giving away not only a signed copy of A Song at Twilight this week on my blog, but one of Waltz with a Stranger as well. So you can comment below until midnight PST, October 8, for a chance to win both books in the series. (To whoever wins: if you already own Waltz with a Stranger and would prefer not to receive an extra copy, just let me know when the time comes.)
Meanwhile, I’ll be embarking on a virtual tour for much of October, promoting the book. The tour itinerary can be found here, and most of these stops will be offering giveaways of A Song at Twilight. I hope some of you will drop by and say hello!
ETA: Gina D. wins the Double Book Giveaway of A Song at Twilight and its prequel, Waltz with a Stranger! Please contact me with your mailing address, so I can send your books off to you as quickly as possible.
However, I will be giving away a copy of A Song at Twilight to a commenter on a weekly basis for the remainder of the month. See my next blog post for details. Thank you to everyone who stopped by with their good wishes–readers help make the magic happen!