I often address various sized groups of people who are interested in hearing me speak about my memoir, Becoming Alice. They want to know what inspired me to write write my book, how long it took to complete, how I went about getting it published, etc. etc. Then the groups I address can be split in two, those who have read my book and those who haven’t. I leave the haven’t group on the back burner, hoping they will buy my book on the way out the door, and focus on the group that has read my book.
Depending on the interests of the group, I will speak about WWII and Hitler’s takeover of Vienna; I may speak about the immigrant years in Portland, Oregon and the position our little group of refugees found ourselves in; I might speak about the unique personalities of my family members and how that effected our assimilation. I most often give more backgraound material than is to be found in my book.
What interests me most is what happens when I end my discourse and open the meeting up for questions. Many are on the subjects I’ve mentioned. People want to share with me their own family histories, especially as they pertain to members who have personalities similar to those I wrote about. And finally, I always get questions about what happened next ?, what happened ever to your brother?, are you still friends with Trudy? and are you writing a sequal?
I thought about the second works of some very successful books and also about sequals to their memoirs. My experience has been that very often, these sequals are not so successful. One example is Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes which I thought was an excellent piece of writing. It was followed by ‘Tis which in my opinion was not equal to his first work. Oh, I think it sold a lot of copies, probably because people expected the same sort of reading experience. It wasn’t. How could it be? It was about an entirely different subject, lived by an adult and not by a little boy, and in a America and not Ireland.
So when people ask me about my next work, I tell them I am not writing a sequal. Actually the working title of what I’m currently writing is Episodes. They do take place in the period following the close of Becoming Alice but as happens in all sequals, most other variables are different. In my case you will be reading about a young American girl and her relationships with others, including men, and not a European refugee who feels like a fish out of water in her new culture.