Welcome Friends

It has been quite some time since my last blog post, which has more to do with the busy year I’ve had than anything else. But with the early release of book two in the Moose Beach trilogy now available (I can’t believe it!), I wanted to share with you a small insight into the creation of this sequel to The Passage at Moose Beach.

2019 began quietly. Weekdays I did my day job, and for the first couple of months, I spent the weekends finishing the rough draft of book two, which came to be known as Finding the Lost. A side note here, the initials of the book are FTL, which also stands for “faster than light” and being a science geek, I love that! I have mentioned before that I never really planned to write a first book, it just sort of happened. So to actually be working on a sequel was exciting and challenging in all new ways.

The Passage at Moose Beach is a stand-alone book. In my mind, the story is complete, and I never had any vision for a sequel. But my wonderful publishers Marta and Kate at Calling Card Books suggested that a second book could be a good idea. Unfortunately, while it might have been THEIR good idea, I didn’t actually have any ideas of my own for how I could continue Alicia’s story. I didn’t want to return to the world of Moose Beach if I couldn’t tell something new. It would have been easy to repeat the story of book one with new animal friends and a brand new adventure. But that would not have been satisfying to me as a writer and I don’t think it would have been satisfying to you as a reader.

Sequel Ideas & Corrections

After spending some time with the idea, my first thought was to have Alicia grown up with a daughter of her own and the young girl would end up in the Wild Side herself. In fact, I had already written the epilogue of book one as a glimpse into the future, with Alicia and her daughter swimming in the lake at Moose Beach. Here is a sample of the original epilogue from book one:

Alicia stood on the small beach on the other side of the lake, looking into the woods beyond. Somewhere in there, she imagined a deer, a squirrel, and a noisy jay all watching out for each other. And she remembered a giant friend who made the ultimate sacrifice to save her and the lands he called home.

Suddenly, she squealed in surprise. Cold lake water had splashed against her back! Turning, she saw her young daughter cupping both hands in the water, ready for a second throw. “Oh, you’re in trouble now, Brie”, she warned as she stalked slowly into the lake, hands raised in menacing and exaggerated claws.

Brie, just 7 years old, backed away from her mom, laughing uncontrollably. “It wasn’t me, Mom, it was a giant trout!”

“Uh, huh. And I’m just a giant bear who’s going to nibble on that trout.” Alicia lunged forward through the shallow lake water and scooped up her daughter, burrowing her face into child’s neck and making chomping sounds against her skin.

You may notice a great similarity between this original text and what ended up in the book. The beginning of book two continued with this story line, featuring an adult Alicia who would need to return to the Wild Side to rescue her daughter. I’d written the first chapter of Finding the Lost and sent it off to my publishers to see how they liked the idea. They gently, and wisely, guided me back toward the light. Alicia once again became a young girl, which also meant going back and re-writing the epilogue of book one. Fortunately, this happened before The Passage at Moose Beach went to print.

I did like the idea of playing with a new timeline, so that concept stayed for Finding the Lost, as you will see. And since I wanted the story to be different from the first, that meant Alicia would need to be a little older so that she could fend for herself without the reliance on her furry companions. Finally, I knew this story would have a darker tone than book one and I didn’t want to inflict that terror on an eleven-year-old girl.

Alicia’s Journey

Alicia’s lake is a magical place. Growing up there, I had the chance to explore just as much as Alicia, as you may have read in my other blog posts. And I wanted to bring all these wonderful locations from my youth to the reader. Because of that, Finding the Lost is a travelogue of sorts. I wanted readers to experience a bit of the exploration I enjoyed so much as a child. Which is also why this book includes a map, a welcomed suggestion from one of my earliest readers. I’ve been to every location in this book, and while I may not have gotten to meet the Ancients, I have seen cougars, and I’m pretty sure I caught a quick glimpse of a sprite or two.

Finishing the rough draft was only the beginning of the book writing process. The reviewing and editing were much more time-consuming. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read Finding the Lost, looking for spelling and continuity errors. And most importantly, taking the feedback from my publishers and converting that into a richer and more engaging story. I also needed to go back and read sections from The Passage at Moose Beach, just to make sure the story line matched up and made sense. And I’m sure we probably didn’t catch everything. There was also a lot of conversations with my wonderful artist, Gloria, who worked hard trying to get just the right look for the cover, the characters, and took my terrible map sketch and made it into something beautiful.

There’s more!

During this journey, I also realized that the story I imagined was too big for just one more book. Somewhere along the way, Alicia’s adventures in the Wild Side became a trilogy. And if you think Finding the Lost is dark, just wait to see what I’ve got in store for book three. Magic, discovery, new friends, new dangers, and a huge battle to end it all.

It’s going to be epic!

Michael Foster