Monday, April 6, 2015

Blog Tour: Melancholy by Charlotte McConaghy

Title: Melancholy: Episode One (The Cure #2) 
Author: Charlotte McConaghy 
Synopsis: Here in the west they know a lot about hope. They know how to ration it just as they do with food and water. Josephine is at last free of the blood moon. But in a desperate rush to find help for a comatose Luke, she discovers the strange and dangerous world of the resistance, and it is unlike any world Josi has known. In the west they believe in fury – they cultivate and encourage it. The unruly people of the resistance know that to survive means to fight. But can they fight the inevitable cure for sadness that rushes steadily closer? In the action-packed sequel to Fury, everything Josi believes about herself will be challenged. Haunted by atrocities and betrayals, she must find the strength to trust again, and decide how far she is willing to go to fight the inevitable. At times both brutal and sweet, Melancholy is the story of second chances and finding love in a ruined world.

Approaching a Sequel: Revisiting Characters
By Charlotte McConaghy

Thanks for having me on the blog today! To celebrate the release of my new novel Melancholy – Book 2 of The Cure Series, I thought I’d talk about revisiting characters in a sequel. While like returning to old friends, it’s also, in my opinion, one of the most difficult challenges a writer faces. I dealt with this in Melancholy, the sequel to Fury, which is the first in a romantic dystopian trilogy. I’ve found that book two is always the toughest in a series to approach – and that comes down to the structure of a character arc.

            With book one you have a more basic structure: a character who is missing something, is damaged in some way or unsatisfied with their life. You put them through trials and obstacles that challenge them to face their wounds or flaws – you make life really hard for them until they can bravely facilitate their own transformation. It feels satisfying and cathartic, and in a way it sort of feels neat.

            Then you have a break, exhausted, and wait for the tug of that character and that world to pull you back in. The start of book two is like taking a deep breath and plunging back under the surface – it’s wonderful, exciting, familiar and a bit terrifying. But after you’ve written a flurry of pages – probably all rubbish – you inevitable stop and think ‘Hang on. What’s this about?’ Who is this person you knew so well? Who have they become?
They can’t be too healthy or enlightened after the first transformation, or you’ve got no real story and a seriously dull character. But then again they can’t revert entirely back to their initial beliefs and flaws, or you’re sort of undercutting the whole point of book one.

So the trick is to work out a middle ground. To present your character with a new situation that maybe challenges them in a new, different way. Pull out previously unexplored qualities, while also allowing them to fall back into old habits or patterns. After all, people rarely change completely, but have to consistently work at understanding ourselves better. We are all extremely complex; we continue to plumb new depths and beliefs as we’re faced with new ideas or problems. So as a writer you have to allow the same levels of complexity in your characters.
I’ll go into detail about my series now, so – spoiler alert!

In Fury, Josephine goes through a mission to discover the truth. She has a tumultuous relationship with Luke, due to her brutal past and inability to trust. She is ruled by the fury of living in a world she hates, of feeling like the only sane one left in a land of emotionless drones, and of being powerless to the violent creature she becomes under the blood moon. Over the course of the book she learns to let Luke in, to see that there is beauty left in the world, and to allow herself joy as well as anger. She accesses her own power and agency as a woman, and is liberated by her decision not to be a victim, but to fight for what she believes.  

But it isn’t quite so straightforward as all of that. Luke has some pretty big secrets of his own. And the good thing about ending on a cliffhanger is that you have an easy way into book two – the aftermath of a climax is often as interesting as the climax itself. I left open a lot of storylines for myself – Josi has yet to forgive Luke for his betrayal; she took a bit of a slap in the face for finally trusting him. She’s also in a new world, the world of the resistance. So I had a lot to play with: acclimatizing her to a new situation, dealing with a whole lot of new characters. Navigating the issue of trust after betrayal. And most importantly, the guilt she’s drowning in for all the murders she committed in book one. She’s escaped the blood moon, but she hasn’t escaped any of the things it made her do.   

So in a way Josi reverts a bit to the disempowered girl she started the series as, and has to find her strength and courage again in a very different setting – the strength not only to fight, but to forgive. The challenge now is to leave room for more development in book three!


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