Writers never do what we want. You start reading a series, get invested, and then the author doesn’t produce the sequel for 6+ years. (Yes, George R.R. Martin, I am referring to you.) As an author, however, I have to say I’ve grown a lot more sympathetic to Martin’s plight, even as my inner reader fumes. So I’ll do my best to account for my actions. I can’t speak for other authors, but I can tell you why I didn’t immediately sit down to write the sequel to Compass Rose in the hopes that you will forgive me.
Reason 1: I work on multiple projects at once
Some writers work on a single project at a time and I envy them. I need to have several stories in varying stages of production in order to be my most productive. While writing Compass Rose, I was also drafting Thorn, the yet-to-be-titled Robin Hood, and a YA trilogy, just to name a few of the things on my backlist. Thorn took precedence after Compass Rose simply because it was the closest to done. Then along came Robin.
Reason 2: Sequels are hard
Okay, so maybe this is more of an excuse than a reason, but I stand by it. Compass Rose is my first book. I learned so much about writing while working on it, and it required a massive amount of research and an obscene number of total rewrites. It was also the first series I’d ever attempted. You know how J. K. Rowling had filing cabinets devoted to the Harry Potter series with each book carefully planned out (so she says…)? Well, if you saw my system of organization you’d understand why I’m behind. Don’t worry, I’m working on it, but let’s just say that if I were writing Harry Potter, he’d still be trapped in the Chamber of Secrets. This is a learning process. I want to give you the best book I can, and that’s taking a while.
Reason 3: I like variety
I love that I get to spend years living in the crazy worlds I come up with. However, sometimes I need to spice things up. After writing about endless warm oceans and dark submarines, I needed a breath of bitterly cold fresh air (Thorn). I also enjoy experimenting with different styles and genres. I’m only 28 and new at this author business, after all. I want to try things. Sometimes that means dystopian pirates, other times dark fairytales. However, I will promise to consistently deliver stories with badass women.
Reason 4: Climate change
Compass Rose is climate fiction. In fact, I can talk about climate science all day. Ecosystems fascinate me and community resilience and adaptability are things I am deeply passionate about, along with preserving native species, minimizing human impact, and keeping our food systems strong. But writing about an increasingly unavoidable future is, at times, emotionally exhausting. I don’t want sea levels to rise or entire species to be wiped off the map or millions of humans to be displaced by our changing climate, no matter how interesting those concepts are to my inner writer. Climate change breaks my heart. I have to write about worlds where my love of nature isn’t entirely bittersweet to keep myself sane.
When I first started working on Compass Rose back in 2015, in the good old days when we were still part of the Paris Climate Accords, Obama was president, and Trump was the stuff of ludicrous nightmare, I carried the dim hope that we might still avoid reaching the tipping point. Now, I just hope that we can find ways as a species to adapt. One of the ways I am adapting is by telling stories that deal with climate change alongside those that address other aspects of the human condition–like badass warrior women who ride polar bears and hunt with packs of wolves.
Wait…so there IS going to be a sequel to Compass Rose?
Well, that’s the idea. I’m working on it. I have no idea when it will be finished, but I promise it will be done as soon as I can manage it. I will also promise pet octopuses. Will Rose and Miranda stay together? What is up with Rose and Orca, anyway? Is Comita as duplicitous as she seems? Is Ching Shih still kicking? I don’t know! But I do know that octopus can edit their own RNA, and now you do, too.