Revisiting The Second Novel, Again

March 23rd, 2006 · No Comments
by Booksquare

We are most intrigued by the notion of a “first novel” versus a “second” novel, because, quite possibly, the first is really the second, or maybe even the third. It is the rare author who hits the big-time on the first effort. In the world of writing, that first manuscript is often viewed as a collector of dust bunnies — why else would you keep it under your (virtual or physical) bed?

Thus we scratch our head when second published novels are dismissed a bit callously:

Some critics say that it comes about because, having poured all their effort into their first book, an author often has nothing left to put in the second one.

One must realize that the pressure for success is both internal and external. The press loves a surprise success; the realities of publishing and readers are less fascinating. The internal pressure, of course, comes from the author who must make the choice between easy and challenging. For the record, challenging is often the choice associated with perceived failure — it all depends on who’s reading the dictionary. For his second published novel, DBC Pierre chose the challenging route.

“But after its success, I didn’t want to be seen to capitalise on what I knew worked in the book, and that I should try and progress. So I deliberately moved into the third person, which was uncomfortable and detached me.

“I deliberately wrote about something that wasn’t motivated by any energy from my life, and that was tricky.”

[tags]DBC Pierre, Vernon Little God, Ludmilla’s Broken English, publishing[/tags]

File Under: The Business of Publishing