Last week I was talking to a friend who recently finished The Thin House, and they asked a question that has been on my mind for quite some time, "What are you going to do next?" I've gotten variations of this question pretty much since the release of the first book. This particular query is thrilling to me for a couple reasons. The first and foremost being, I'm tremendously excited about where we go from here. The truth is, I have been since long before The Thin House was released.
Many of my readers have admired the artwork on our home page. The image was created by Kurt Chang and features fan-favorite character from the first book, Chester the Jackalope, toiling away at a typewriter in a warm and inviting library. Many have commented on the eclectic details of the setting, and noted Easter eggs from the book, including Ezekiel Blacklock's gun belt, a plate of Eleanor's biscuits with honey, and the brass-knuckles from the werewolf fight. However, there are a lot of other specific and unusual items in Chester's library that don't appear in the book, at least not the first one.
Some noteworthy details in the art include, a hand-carved baseball bat, a marble chess piece, and a sleeping pit bull. There are others as well. The inclusion of these objects was a conscious and planned decision to nod at what lies ahead for Jackalope Stories. The plan has been in place for some time, and if you enjoyed The Thin House I think you will be pleased with where we go from here. Without spoiling anything, I wanted to talk a little about what you can expect.
When people ask or make predictions about the sequel, the common assumption I'm confronted with is that the next time we visit The Thin House will be for Finn's second summer with his grandparents, and that the series will largely follow his growth as he spends more and more time with Ezekiel, Eleanor, and the guests at their boarding house. This is a nice idea, but while I can appreciate series like The Boxcar Children, that is not where we are going.
Though The Thin House has a young main character, I never intended my book to be a children's book necessarily. I've got another post where i'll discuss maturity levels in my writing, but for now I will simply say that some of the most intellectually stimulating books are told through the lens of a child's perspective, and that's where I wanted Jackalope Stories to begin. Throughout the course of future books in this series, the protagonist(s) will get older much like my readers. Furthermore the series will not be a Finn's Adventure of the Summer serial. I've got something slightly more ambitious in mind.
Like most of my character's I have a lot of affection for Finn Anglin. He's based largely on a younger version of myself learning from the prominent adults in my childhood. We will see him again in the course of upcoming books, but he will not be the main character again until the last one. When I planned out the four stories that I hope to write in this series, the primary goal of The Thin House was to build a sandbox. Put another way, I wanted to create a world with fertile ground in which to harvest exciting, and earnest stories.
The second and third book, both of which are far along in their development, will take place in the same world as The Thin House. You will see familiar characters, places, and an overarching sub-plot that I hope will pay off in a big way as we approach the end. However, each book will be a standalone story that can be read and appreciated with or without the benefit of the rest of the series. I don't want to get into major spoilers, but I will say if you want a peek at what the series will be, pay close attention to Chapter Six of The Thin House.
I recognize this may not be what some expected, but as the person who's spent the most time in this world and with these characters I'm very excited for you to see what lies ahead. If you enjoyed The Thin House, if the characters felt meaningful and interesting, I believe you will be pleased with the next couple steps in this journey, more so than something as formulaic a Finn's annual adventure.
I'm on track to release the second book in early 2021. I'm looking forward to sharing information and previews over the next couple months. The Thin House will always hold a soft spot in my heart, but that world is about to get a lot bigger. Our next stop will be Opossum Trot Mississippi. I can't wait to show you around.