When you start killing children in a book, you know you’ve just gone a little darker. Ah Darkly Wood… You know, I have a special bond to this book and writing the sequel has brought me even closer to the very different world that is Darkly Wood.
It is Darkly Wood week, a week to celebrate and investigate a little deeper, some of the things that make this book special to me. Here I want to explore the process of the sequel. This is neither a scientific treatise nor a template for how it should be done. This rather, is the evolution of a sequel from a Max Power perspective, an insight if you will into the process, the pitfalls and the pure writing pleasure and where it has sent me.
But where do I begin? For the uninitiated, Darkly Wood is my first novel, set in and around the small, fictitious, rural village of Cranby. Overlooking the village is a wood named after the local gentry a family with the apt name of Darkly. For as long as people in the area have known, there have been stories some tall, some true, all with a common thread which is that place high on the hill above Cranby has seen more than its fair share of tragedies. Every story relates to a mysterious death or disappearance in the wood, but all spread out enough through the generations for people to forget or really feel too threatened to go there.
At the heart of the story is Daisy May Coppertop, a teenage girl who discovers a book called Tales of Darkly Wood, not long after her arrival in the village. It tells many of the stranger stories relating to Darkly Wood and she quickly becomes fascinated.
That is the starting point I suppose and in Darkly Wood, I use a device whereby the tales from the book Daisy discovers, are dropped into the story as the plot develops. Daisy meets a handsome young lad and they go walking in the wood when the true nature of the place begins to reveal itself. The stories break up their journey, all seemingly random tales that gradually begin to direct the reader and guide them to an understanding of sorts. I can say no more without revealing too much but of course there are many peculiarities about the very unusual book that is Darkly Wood.
So to the sequel. It hadn’t actually been my intention to write one, but many people asked me and I began to consider the possibility. Once I started out on an outline, I knew I had to write it and so to the process. There are two important factors to note here and they relate to the very strange nature of the books in terms of structure and character names for example. Daisy May Coppertop, Benjamin, Blood, Philagrea Mancuso, Iggy Pipe the man who never smoked, might just give you an inkling that none of the characters have very ordinary names. Abel Gloom, Terrence Darkly, everyone has a name that has a special significance to the character or the plot.
In the sequel nothing has changed and again I use the same structure of developing the plot alongside the tales from Darkly Wood. However in writing book two, something most peculiar happened. I created a new character that goes by the name of Wormhold. I had initially written him in as a small part, but it became so tempting to flesh him out that as I wrote to a plan, I went completely off script and Wormhold took over a little.
I realised that here, was a villainous man beyond even my comprehension and I was struck with something I hadn’t considered, a third book. My books are all character driven, but none more so than this. In the original Darkly Wood there are essentially two strands to the book. Daisy and Benjamin’s trek through the wood in pursuit of the mysterious and ultimately terrifying creature they call Woody and the interspersed tales from Darkly Wood. Here in Darkly Wood II The woman who never wore shoes, there developed 4 strands and it was not how I had planned it. In the sequel, there is another adventure if you will in the wood , there is a separate tale relating to Daisy May Coppertop now much older and there are of course the tales.
My plan was to develop the book this way, but Wormhold was too good to resist, so he is now my fourth strand and that is going to be important in the development of book III. It all might sound a little chaotic and indeed what goes on inside my head quite often is. I have blogged on it several times. That’s not to say it is random or casual. Darkly Wood is if nothing else a labour of love. I spend a long time carefully creating and developing the story and the characters, it is just that sometimes they lead me down deeper, darker paths.
If you liked Darkly Wood, if Woody sent a chill through you, if Lionel Goja creeped you out, then be prepared for a wonderful turn of even darker proportions when you meet my newest, ink friend penned to life. Both books will stand alone, but best to read Darkly Wood before the sequel as it will definitely enhance the experience. Finally, the best way to get ready for Darkly Wood II The woman who never wore shoes is to prepare yourself, brace yourself and expect the unexpected when you meet Wormhold for the first time.
Max Power’s books include, Darkly Wood, Larry Flynn Bad Blood and Little Big Boy
You can find more details about Max Power’s books here : – http://www.amazon.com/author/maxpower