Sophomore Slump

Went to see Sin City 2 last night. Enjoyable flick. As most of the critics have said, I really missed that innovative edge the first film had. Not that this one was any less beautiful than its predecessor but, in the 9 years between films, the first film has been aped and mimicked by so many other films either in part or whole that just repeating its feats no longer seems fresh or innovative.

Bands, tech companies, and novelists all struggle with that sophomore slump. How do you “innovate” something new and yet keep your loyal fans happy? Thankfully I’m too small time to really have to worry about it. But it is something that I contemplated in writing Exegesis.

There was a multi-year span between when I finished the first draft of Catharsis and when I published Exegesis. In the interim, I grew and changed both as a person and artist. So the book naturally reflects some of those changes. And the characters themselves have evolved and changed. So that necessarily makes for a different work.

That’s great! But it’s not really innovative. So how do I push the envelope? And once it’s pushed, will anyone who enjoyed the preceding book like a new one?

Admittedly, I didn’t try to reinvent the form with Exegesis. I just let the story continue to expand. Sin City somewhat attempted that, but fell short of impressing through that alone. So what else could it have done? What else could I do?


Buy It Here!

It’s new book Tuesday, and you know what that means… The sequel to Catharsis is out! That’s right—Exegesis, the sequel to my 2011 novel Catharsis is available via Amazon or through special order through your favorite book retailer. You can even ask your local library to carry a copy! I hope you enjoy this one. Some of the feedback has it as even better than the original! The action ramps up as Kama and Bodhi have to complete a quest to help Djwhal Khul birth the new Caprician Age.

If you do read it, leave me a review on Amazon! The more reviews, the merrier. Even if you hate it.

Switching Gears? Too Obscure?

I got sidelined by some bad health the last few weeks. Nothing major–just some stomach flu and similar issues hitting me and mine. So, haven’t been working on the sequel.

I’m almost 200 pages in. For a 300 page book, that’s pretty much into the home stretch. But now my steam’s gone, and I’m having trouble finding motivation again. Any suggestions?

Also struggling because I have another idea kicking around in my head that I like better than the Catharsis series. Catharsis is fun, but I wrote it with no intention of publishing it. Really! It was just fun for me. Because of that, I think that it doesn’t play to a lot of people’s interests. Sure, there’s a nude nubile female or two, gun fights and sword fights and all kinds of fights, sex, intrigue, danger, scandal, etc. But the book requires a Masters in 19th-21st century Western Occultism and a strong working knowledge of 20th century sci-fi to really make sense to a reader. While the 2nd requirement isn’t all that rare–plenty of people know Lovecraft, Asimov, Anthony, and the other sci-fi writers referenced–the first requirement is pretty obscure. If O.T.O. or A.M.O.R.C. are just random acronyms to you, if Blavatsky and MacGregor Mathers are just random names, if Hivim and Ascended Masters don’t really describe anything you’ve heard of even after you look up what they mean, then you probably don’t get 54% of what I was doing in the book. And I don’t blame you. My experience is that Western Mysticism is about as good a subject to throw into a random conversation as model railroad building. There’s an off chance you’ll find someone interested at the table with you, but more likely than not everyone will find you a total bore! Does that happen with Catharsis? I’m betting so. I’m also betting that quite a few readers don’t even know what they’re missing or how hard I worked to get it in there. That’s artistically frustrating. But maybe I should soldier on. For some people, obscure references work wonders. Look at Madelaine L’Engle.

The other idea that I have for a book would be much more commercially viable and require much less in the way of obscure knowledge on the part of the reader. Might not be enough to turn me into Stephen King, but it could entertain a lot more people, which is a big part of the goal here.

What do you think? Keep writing on the sequel because I’m more than halfway through the first draft or switch to the new idea that I like better at the moment and think the audience might like better, too?

How do you make the call with your own writings?

The Power of the Sequel

I used to have so much faith in sequels. As a kid, I longed for my favorite books and movies to come out with sequels and my favorite TV series to produce new episodes forever. Do you still feel that way?


The first crack in the damn holding back the reservoir of distaste I have for sequels came with Highlander 2. Before Highlander 2, I’d expected sequels to be like Empire Strikes Back–extensions of the genius introduced in their preceding tales and arguably even better than the story that spawned them. ButHighlander 2 could not be reconciled with the awe and mystery invoked by the first movie. That sequel was a mess that not only embarrassed itself but actually degraded the original film from which it sprang.


My faith in sequels still hadn’t been fully flooded by cynicism, though, even after that. It took another decade of disappointments to realize that sometimes–arguably most of the time–it’s better to let a great piece of fiction exist as it does. No one’s dying for the sequel to Hamlet or Great Expectations. Once a good story ends, it should be over.


Of course, taking too strict a stance against sequels would exclude some great stories. Empire Strikes Back is an obvious example. The Vampire Lestat would be another example I could think of where a sequel surpassed the story it preceded from. And more important to me personally, I love to write in sequel arcs instead of throwing one novel down and calling a story done.


Are sequels a necessary evil? Would BSG still be thought of as a masterpiece if it had continued on for many more years and devolved into drivel? What makes a good sequel? If a sequel sucks, should that degrade our view of the original? And do we have an obligation to count a sequel as existing at all if we find it ruins what we once loved?