After writing a prequel for my Carol Sabala Mystery Series, I’ve received three questions that many might ask. Here are my responses.
1. Why/how did you decide to write a prequel?
Last year I was invited to include Murder, Honey in the e-collection Sleuthing Women: 10 First-in-Series Mysteries. The anthology was a huge success. The editor decided to put out a follow-up collection, Sleuthing Women II: 10 Mystery Novellas, due out this fall. Each author was to contribute a novella, a 10,000 to 40,000-word work, related to her series in the first anthology.
I didn’t have a novella written, and I considered my Carol Sabala Mystery Series complete. My seven books create a satisfying character arc. A prequel seemed like the only logical choice for the new work. That’s how I came to write Smoked Meat, which is available now for pre-order as a misterio press stand-alone e-book. Please remember Smoked Meat is a novella, and a short one at that (10,000 words), so expect a mystery that seems like a very long short story.
2. Since Smoked Meat was written last, not first, at what point should a person read it?
Smoked Meat can stand on its own and be read at any point. Many readers will encounter my works through the two Sleuthing Women releases and will read Smoked Meat second. That’s fine, but not ideal. I’d recommend that a person read Smoked Meat either first or last, with a bias for last, the order in which it was written. Both Smoked Meat and the first book in the series take place at Christmas, although Murder, Honey is at a later year. I’d like my reader to have some distance between one Christmas setting and the next.
3. What did you find the most challenging and the most fun about writing a prequel?
I didn’t start Smoked Meat from scratch. I worked from a short story I’d written. However, in the course of doing this, I realized I couldn’t just inflate what I had. It would burst! Short as my novella is, it’s still three times the length of a typical short story. My novella would need new stuff—a subplot, a twist. This challenge also provided the fun. I liked delving back into the plot and thinking, “Oh, but this could happen . . ..”