Every story has a spark that brings it into existance. Sometimes the writer sets down to write with deliberate determination. Sometimes the story takes on a life of its own [through one means or another] and the writer is mearly the scribner.
Kathryn's Beach began as a short story emailed to a friend who had nothing to read during an ice storm. Nothing more. She didn't even know I wrote when she shared her plight: acute book withdrawal.
Then she asked, "What happens next?"
Next? There is no 'next' - that was a short story, I think. It could be anything Terrie wanted. "She either goes home and it works or it doesn't, or she stays and it works or it doesn't."
She wanted me to write more. That's what she wanted.
I was finished, but Terrie wasn't. She kept asking for more. Every night for three weeks I emailed a chapter or two to her (the first draft mind you, unedited). The ice storm had long passed. She had read many books in the time it took me to write one.
After Kathryn's Beach, I was finished. The short story that I emailed to my friend had become a novel. I was very finished. My secret that I wrote was out and I was okay with it.
Then it came. "What happens to Joseph?"
Joseph? I'm thinking, Who cares about Joseph? "Well. He either comes back and it works or it doesn't, or he stays and it works or it doesn't." (I should have known that answer wouldn't work with her.) So I wrote High Tide.
Before she could ask for more I promised Storm Surge, but told her Kathryn dies (so she couldn't ask for more). The story was finished with the end of Storm Surge.
Sometimes I wish I had made them into one book rather than three. I had even submitted Kathryn's Beach and High Tide to my agent as one book (knowing that Storm Surge would be much different or maybe never finished).
In the end, I agreed with him to make it two books. I think he was right in that advice. They each have their own personality, their own story to tell.
I could write more, but I think the three are enough - at least for now. In my mind I know what happens next - and it either works or it doesn't.
If you've read all three books and must know what happened after the funeral, email me. If you don't have all my books, buy them.