Tag Archive for school readers

Fan Mail Wednesday #122 (Bystander Sequel)

Bryan writes:

Can you please make a second book for "Bystander"? I loved the book and wanted
to see more about eric and mary, griffin etc. It would probably sell. Thanks for
I replied:
Thanks for your note. It’s funny, I get asked that question a lot. I recently learned that in 2011, there were more movie sequels than at any point in history. It’s just expected that if you liked a movie, they’d soon churn out another with the number “2” after it. It’s natural for young people today to expect a sequel.
It was different for my generation when sequels were the rare exception (I’m fifty, btw, but I feel forty-seven). The idealist in me tends to view sequels as these very cynical, marketing-based decisions. A crass bunch of fat cats sit around a big table, crunch the numbers, and proclaim, “Hey, we made a ton of money on this first movie. Let’s make another!” Same thing with books.
It simply doesn’t strike me as a pure artistic effort. Most of the time, anyway.
When I wrote Bystander, I buried myself in research about bullying. I came away convinced that I could write 100 different books on the topic, all from different perspectives. The ground was so fertile, there was so much to explore. But at the same time, I felt satisfied with my work. Bystander didn’t feel unfinished, and I didn’t have anything else that I was aching to say about these particular characters.
Moreover, today I also feel strongly that — wait — did you say, “It would probably sell“?
Let me call my agent.
P.S. Seriously, though I never intended to write a sequel, I take your request to heart. When I think about it, there are two characters I could imagine exploring in more detail. Mary, since she was only a minor character in the book, and her experiences with cyberbullying seem particularly relevant today; and Griffin, because even I am curious about what happens to him. It might be fun to write a book that centers on the bully. The bad guy who might have some unexpected depths of his own. Hmmm.