Lesfic author KG MacGregor discusses sequels and her new novel Words Unsaid, drawing on 18 years of writing lesfic.
One of the greatest feelings I get from readers is when they ask for a sequel to a book they’ve just finished. I take it as a sign they enjoyed my characters and want to spend more time with them in the world I created. But no matter how many requests I get, a sequel can’t happen unless I feel the story is perfectly suited to those characters. And it has to be a whole new story, not just a continuation of the first one.
Without Warning, the first book in what became the Shaken Series, was written as a one-off, a Xena: Warrior Princess fanfiction that imagined how strong women similar to Xena and Gabrielle might meet in modern day. These so-called uber stories were all the rage in the Xenaverse. Like most ubers, mine was more original lesbian romance than fanfic, except my leads embodied the same physical traits as the actors in the series. I received lots of encouraging feedback from the fanfic community, which juiced me to write another story. Bear in mind, I didn’t know much about the “rules” of fiction writing. Once I noticed my second story—which I kept writing and writing and writing—had two complete and sequential plots, I realized I actually had written two lesfic books, later called Aftershock and Small Packages. Those three stories stood alone for about seven years until I got a bug to write Mother Load. Ten more years passed before I picked up the story again for my new release, Words Unsaid. While each installment contains enough background to read as a standalone, I think readers of the entire series will appreciate the character growth in this family-oriented saga.
All told, Anna and Lily, and their family and friends, have lived in my head for almost twenty years as I’ve conceived of and written these five books. This might very well be the last installment, but I know better than to slam the door on number six.
Another set of characters I think about from time to time are Marty and Louise from Mulligan, women who met and found romance in their sixties. In fact, I added a lesfic novella to their story titled Best Ball, and more recently, a short story called “At Our Age,” about how Marty and Lou are navigating the Covid-19 pandemic. Watch for that one in an upcoming anthology from Bella Books called In This Together.
There are other reasons to revisit characters. When I wanted to write a book set in a small Southern town, The Lucky Ones, I used a town I’d created long ago in The House on Sandstone. That gave me a chance to look in on Carly and Justine after fifteen years. What a delight to find them living happily ever after!
Not all requests for sequels come from happy lesfic readers. That was the case with Rhapsody, which ended with Ashley and Julia together and hopeful, but not quite across the finish line. That was intentional; I meant to leave readers in Julia’s shoes, inviting them to consider whether they could commit to a relationship with someone they loved if there were no guarantees of sexual intimacy. I didn’t want to undo that challenge with a sequel. But as I imagined recently how COVID-19 might affect some of the other couples from my books, I thought about Ashley and Julia. In an upcoming short story from Bella Books called “Ship of Fools,” they find themselves adrift on a cruise ship while the rest of the world is locking down. If you’re curious, you can check their progress after several years together.
I haven’t written all that many lesfic short stories over the years, but it turns out they’re a great way to keep busy when I’m not yet ready to start my next book. And I see them now as a terrific way to give a little more to those who really, really want a sequel. But only if they have the most important ingredient—a good story.