252 pages (paperback); 85,000 words (manuscript)

New challenge: a sequel. Never wrote a sequel before, so why not?

Turned out it was a really big pain in the ass, if you must know the truth-especially to a book like "The Numbing of Audrey Green," where everything is a puzzle piece. (Don't let that statement deter you; it's still a good read.)

I don't really want to say too much about this one, except that if certain things were baffling in book one, then you may find some relief here. The story centers on a single week in the summer of 1958, overlapping a bit with the first book before going off in its own direction. The main character this time is Winsey Green, Audrey's older stepsister, who was discovered to be alive at the end of the first book. Many characters again make repeat appearances-Doctor Rollo and Robby Holli being two of them. However, there is a slew of new faces, including some minor mentions from book one, like Sonny Royce. The story is more compact than "Numbing" - basically staying in one place with a small core of characters. The first book had a lot of locations and went over many years. Here, the supernatural overtones have been pushed into the third act of the book, the first and second dealing with more realistic double-crossing.

Again, I'm quite pleased with this entry in the series. It's a peculiar voice, a highly stylized piece of writing. Since this plot has less adventure and more character, there is a lot of internal gears, a lot of emotions and reversals. It's a 'thinking' companion to "Numbing." Stepping back from the sex and violence of "6 The Rise," this one is, once again, family friendly. However, that last novel did have some influence, as I can say the tone of "Search" is decidedly downbeat at times. No matter-as a second act in a proposed series of three, that would be expected, the darker forces gaining an upper hand.

My other main influence on this-aside from reading books by Evelyn Nesbit, Patricia Highsmith, and James Joyce-was that I spent time in London & Dublin since writing the first book. I found that many of my instincts weren't far off. I purposefully keep the references to towns and streets vague, even with all my research. I am, after all, an American. I have to keep it straight: I am writing a novel set in England, but I am not an English writer. There are some colloquialisms, some cultural references, some stylistic choices, but I don't spell "color" in the English way ("colour"), or try to fool anybody. The particular way I detail English culture, or speak in English voice, is simply so that the spell of the story is not interrupted by my Chicago life. Some readers have asked, "Why England?" "Why not the American east coast?" I chose England because of the storybook / abstract overtones of the land, the people, and the fiction. The fantastical elements of the book would have seemed so out-of-nowhere in 1950's Cold War America. But England has a tradition of childhood fantasy-gnomes and gardens and magic and Merlin and old GENESIS album covers. As a writer, I couldn't be more comfortable with the events as the place was ripe for it.

So, I hope people like this one. It's a gamble, this sequel thing. The first book had a lot of fans. And, if there are still nagging questions at the end of book two, don't worry, all will be explained in book three…