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Monday, June 26, 2017

So, You Want to Write a Trilogy? Never Say Never

I didn’t start out being an author by declaring I was going to write a trilogy. I wrote one novel and thought my next was going to be related only by genre. No shared characters. No continuing story lines. No recurring settings.

Boy, was I wrong.

Write a sequel? Or a series? Nope, not me! Yet, this summer marks the launch of my final installment in The Jessica Trilogy. Just goes to show that sometimes writing takes you to places you never dreamed.

So, what happened?

Simple. Readers wanted more.

I write mainstream thrillers with a strong emotional pull. I love a fast-paced plot and lots of action, but I also like to create three-dimensional characters that resonate with readers. My main character is Jessica Wyeth, a world-class equestrian with a good share of grit and a longing for a simple life in a home of her own. Events propel Jessica into a world of organized crime. Oh, and she might have fallen in love with the wrong guy.

The Charity: Witness to a gang-style slaying, a young woman is hunted to stop her from exposing the money and the people behind a Boston-based terrorist cell .

Speaking with fans of the first book, they consistently asked what happened to Jessica after The Charity ended? They wanted to know what happened next.

I realized I had the answer. I also realized I needed a lot more than knowing where Jessica went or what her next adventure was. Unlike a mystery or detective series where the sleuth solves a different crime in each series installment, I knew my story was going to evolve and deepen like Stieg Larsson’s Girl with a Dragon Tattoo, Girl Who Played with Fire, and Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest. I also knew I didn’t want a story series that could go on forever, so I decided a trilogy structure was most suited to the world and characters I was creating.

I had seeded the first book with many turning points. [Mini spoiler alert here!] The most compelling was Jessica had been raised by her aunt who turned out to be her biological mother. The question that rattled around my head was, how could a woman live with her daughter for years and never say the words, “I’m your mother.” What happened in that mother’s life to have her keep a secret like that? From that question, more flowed. My second book formed.

The Troubles: Deceived by her family, a rebellious woman seeks to unearth how Northern Ireland’s Troubles are buried in her mother’s secret past.

I must have done something right, because fans loved the direction of the story. Think sweeping, multi-generational tale ala Colleen McCullough meets the world of John Grisham’s tightly knit thrillers. The Troubles won Best Fiction at the EQUUS Film Festival in New York City. Why is the EQUUS award a big deal? Horses play a large part in Jessica’s life and each book features an equestrian discipline. When concocting the plot for The Wake, I knew the discipline I was going to focus on was Hippotherapy, horse-based therapy for physical, occupational, and behavioral needs.

As Jessica’s backstory deepened, so did the complexity of her life. The stickiest question was the trilogy’s secondary main character, Michael. Michael is a tortured soul. He loves Jessica, but forces beyond his control test his loyalties. Going back to the first book, I had opened questions about him I needed to close. A recurring theme in each book was the struggle of a strong moral code in the face of extreme pressure. The main question I needed to answer was, is a terrorist born or made? From that question flowed, what does that look like? How far will someone go for love?

The Wake: A shattered heiress’ family secret is exploited by her spurned lover to blackmail her into engaging in international terrorism.

Hmm. I guess from the log line above you can see how Jessica and Michael’s relationship is going. The Wake is already gathering great reviews. I’m excited about each one, but receiving praise from the CEO of the Professional Association of TherapeuticHorsemanship International is wonderful. Not only did I write another suspense-filled tale, but highlighting horses’ therapeutic value gave my story and my characters another dimension.

I realized I could have written ten thrillers with the world I created for this trilogy, but I’m glad I decided to keep with the trilogy structure.

With The Wake's launch a little over a month away, you still have time to catch up on the story! Follow the links above and get your copy today!

Connie Johnson Hambley's newest book, THE WAKE, is coming this summer!

THE WAKE: Is a terrorist born or made?

World-class equestrian, Jessica Wyeth, is thrust into the middle of a game of geopolitical warfare. Reeling from revelations of her connection to the violent struggles to expunge Britain from Northern Ireland, she’s blocked by unseen forces from returning to the United States. 

The facts of Jessica’s birth become her deepest secret. Her late mother was considered by Northern Ireland to be a terrorist and her father is a key negotiator between violent Irish Republican Army (IRA) factions in Belfast and the British Government.
Jessica vows to keep her father’s identity hidden at all costs.

Only one man knows Jessica’s truth. Michael Connaught, heir to an international crime family who profits from political uprisings, struggles with his own legacy. He is torn between protecting the woman he loves or using her secrets as a catalyst for inciting global unrest.

When a terrorist bomb rips through the crowd at the Atlanta-based Summer Olympic Games, Jessica is forced to fight for her life in ways she never dreamed.