Josephine Garner, an INDIEFAB silver award winner in the Multicultural category, tells iUniverse more about writing A Banner of Love and her publishing experience.
A Banner of Love is the sequel to Solomon’s Blues which was published in 2011. I wrote A Banner of Love because readers of Solomon’s Blues asked for it, and never let up about it. I had never intended to write a series, but being a community practice social worker by profession, I am trained to respect the voice of the community, and so I did as writer too.
One might think that a sequel should be relatively easy to write, after all most of the characters are defined and maybe even beloved by readers already, but how do you write a book that builds on another and stands alone at the same time? That’s not so easy. A Banner of Love might reach new readers who had never heard of Solomon’s Blues. I had to introduce Esther and Taylor as if new characters to new eyes, while at the same time not bore old friends with repetition. Plus—the big question: will the boy get the girl had been answered in Solomon’s Blues. What comes after happily ever after? I had to work all that out and I hadn’t prepared for it. It took me about 2 years from start to finish, and judging from the reception thus far, I guess I did okay. So yeah, give readers what they want. I understand even better now that while writing may be a solo task, it is kind of a joint enterprise.
And that’s what I want to say most to readers: that writing is wonderful but readers make it so much more rewarding. And not just in sales and royalties either, but in interaction with readers. Many of the folks who have read Solomon’s Blues, Walk on Water (my second and very different novel) and now A Banner of Love have graciously shared their thoughts regarding my work in reviews and sometimes even email messages to me. Every comment has been so valuable to me, even when the reader didn’t like something. I’m the person who watches C-Span’s Book Notes for fun, because I love to talk about writing and now lo and behold readers are talking about my writing. So what is the one message I would like to share with my readers: THANK YOU. For your money obviously, but most importantly for your time and your attention, for sharing a little bit of your space with me over coffee or perhaps tea.
I’m not working on a second sequel just now, but I never say never when it comes to that anymore. Esther and Taylor may have other things to share. And readers, like I said, do have a say in the matter.
And expanding on the notion of writing being a joint enterprise, I must say thank God for editors, content and copy! That critical feedback is essential. The iUniverse editors and editorial consultants were fabulous, attentive and sometimes hard—but very effective. They certainly have been my teachers too.
So what is my advice to aspiring authors? First, tell your story your way but enlist an editor. Second, be patient with yourself but be tenacious. It’s okay if you only write five good pages a week because they will add up. Maybe it will only be two at a time, just make progress. Writing can be a labor a love, it is for me, but it is still labor. It will take discipline and commitment. But mustard seeds do becometh greater than all herbs, and shooteth out great branches (Mark 4:32).