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Blog Tour of Sea Witch Rising by Sarah Henning: Guest Post - Challenges with Writing this Sequel


​​Sea Witch Rising

Author: Sarah Henning

Series: Sea Witch #2

Genre: Fantasy, YA, Retellings

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Runa will not let her twin sister die. Alia traded her voice to the Sea Witch for a shot at happiness with a prince who doesn’t love her. And his rejection will literally kill her—unless Runa intervenes. Under the sea, Evie craves her own freedom—but liberation from her role as Sea Witch will require an exchange she may not be willing to make. With their hearts’ desires at odds, what will Runa and Evie be willing to sacrifice to save their worlds? Told from alternating perspectives, this epic fairy tale retelling is a romantic and heart-wrenching story about the complications of sisterhood, the uncompromising nature of magic, and the cost of redemption.

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Challenges with Writing this Sequel

Second books are hard. This is a documented fact confirmed by multiple authors in interviews, blog posts, and on Twitter. It’s writing’s version of the sophomore slump and I’m here to tell you it’s this real, tangible feeling that there’s no way you can recreate the magic of that debut. It’s a migraine that’s self-made and it can be trouble to the creative process because you’re constantly psyching yourself out and second-guessing your instincts despite they fact that they led you so well before.

Which is why I’ve been lucky because SEA WITCH RISING isn’t your typical “second” book.

We sold SEA WITCH as a standalone. Of course, I’d thought about what I wanted to do if I got a chance to continue the world—before writing it, during writing it, after writing it. But I never acted upon those thoughts. Publishing is a business, and though my editor and I loved our characters and working together, it was clear from very early on that sales numbers would determine any further books. Until we saw how it did, it made no sense for me to work on a sequel that might never sell. So, I worked on other stories.

Before SEA WITCH hit shelves in July 2018, we sold THROW LIKE A GIRL, my YA contemporary football book. Which meant my original follow-up to my debut was already in the editing process when I got the green light to write its sequel, SEA WITCH RISING. My agent worked with my editors to jockey schedules and THROW LIKE A GIRL was moved from fall 2019 to January 7, 2020, and SEA WITCH RISING was slipped into the summer 2019 schedule with a release date of August 6, 2019. So, my second book actually ended up being my third book under contract, which, let me tell you is a great way to convince yourself you’re not going to fall under the second book curse.

That said, sequels are their own special animals. They do come with a ready-built world, magical systems, and cadence, which is nice, but they also come with expectations, inconveniences already printed that need a work-around, and an extra pressure to recreate that debut spark because they’re within the same family. If that’s not the definition of “a blessing and a curse” I don’t know what is.

By the time my editor gave me the go-ahead on SEA WITCH RISING, we’d already discussed what we wanted to see and meshed our ideas together. I hit the ground running, and, honestly, the turnaround was so unusually fast (this is called “crashing” a book through, because it’s outside the typical editorial schedule) that doubt didn’t crawl into my mind and shove me into second-book sophomore slump. I’d been thinking about this story for three years and in some ways it was a relief to get it out on the page.

I really hope you enjoy where they story has gone.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sarah Henning is a recovering journalist who has worked for the Palm Beach Post, Kansas City Star and Associated Press, among others. While in South Florida, Sarah lived and worked through five hurricanes, which gave her an extreme respect for the ocean. When not writing, she runs ultramarathons, hits the playground with her two kids and hangs out with her husband Justin, who doubles as her long-suffering IT department. Sarah lives in Lawrence, Kansas, which, despite being extremely far from the beach, happens to be pretty cool.


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