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The peculiar birth order of books

Lovely Bones and Almost Moon. Water For Elephants and Ape House. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan and Peony in Love. Cold Mountain and Thirteen Moons. The Historian and The Swan Thieves. The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns.

What do all of these sibling books have in common? They were wonderful breakthrough novels and the book that followed, struggled, and in some instances succeeded in escaping the enormous shadow cast by the previous book.

The follow-up that had the most success was Khaled Hosseini's A Thousand Splendid Suns, which, interestingly enough, was originally woven in as part of The Kite Runner. A problem in the beginning that proved to be an incredible advantage? Perhaps.

With Song of Willow Frost I tried to give my second book its own time in the spotlight. But is that even fundamentally possible? Or will Willow Frost always be the Jan Brady of my books because of its unfavorable birth order? I'm still waiting to figure it all out. Occasionally I get an email from a reader who loved SONGS but hasn't read HOTEL, so you never know. But more often it's the opposite.

And as I'm fortunate enough to be reading Garth Stein's new novel A Sudden Light (his follow up to his prodigious bestseller The Art of Racing in the Rain) I'm struggling not to compare the two. His new book is utterly captivating. In fact, I'm eager to finish this post so I can get back to the book.

But when I close that final page, will I be able to forget Enzo? We'll see...

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Reader Comments (4)

I enjoyed "The Book Thief" better than "The Messenger," it's older brother. But that may be an unfair comparison. The Book Thief ranks in my top ten contemporary novels of all time.
April 11, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAbbigail
Great example. Thanks Abbigail!
April 11, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJamie
I read Willow Frost first then I found out about Corner of Bitter & Sweet and read it as well. I thoroughly enjoyed both. I think either book would make a good movie but especially Bitter & Sweet. Well done Mr. Ford!

When is your next book coming out?
April 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDavid
Hi David,

The new book is well under way. Hoping to finish June/July...then the folks at Random House will figure out a release date. Not sure when. Hopefully next year :)

April 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJamie

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