Eagle of Seneca was the first sequel that I ever wrote.
I wanted to play in this alternate world that I’d created for the first story. There seemed to be a ton of potential in the Seneca-verse.
Still, I had to decide what kind of sequel to write.
There’s the direct sequel, which continues the adventures of the characters in the first book. I nixed that right away because that method should be used with characters who need to finish their emotional journey. Dinah and Gerhard were at peace and happy at the end of their story. Happy characters make for great happily ever after endings but not for sequels.
The next kind of sequel I nixed was staying in the same setting. In Warriors of Seneca, I effectively shut down potential sequels and character conflict by having all my warring parties make peace.
I decided on the third kind of sequel: I stayed in the general Seneca-verse but I changed characters and moved the setting to one I hadn’t used in the first book: the Roman city of Manhatos on the tip of Manhattan. (Of course, the Romans would settle on Manhattan, with its deepwater ports and its abundant fish, fresh water, and wildlife.)
For good measure, I tossed in a 15-year-gap. Partially because the conflict needed time to percolate inside the Senecaverse and partially because I wanted Eagle of Seneca to stand-alone, no reading of Warriors of Seneca necessary. Because, yes, I’m that crazy person who will read a series out of order.
Deciding on the hero of Eagle of Seneca was easy. I’d grown fond of Ceti, the young assistant to the Roman garrison engineer in Warriors of Seneca. He undergoes growth in that story but, because only Dinah has a point-of-view, the reader only glimpses this. But I loved his enthusiasm, and I loved how he’d been driven to be the best engineer he could by the events of the first book. Plus, I’d already written about a war leader as the hero in Warriors of Seneca.
I wanted to write about an engineer, someone with an entirely different worldview than a soldier.
The heroine took some thought but I knew she had to be from the Lenape tribe. The First Nations tribes had, obviously, not been given enough point of view in the first book. I had to bring them into the Seneca-verse fully this time, especially since they were right in this struggle for control: it was their home first.
Sky, the heroine, comes with a destiny. The sky literally lit up with fire (of a sort) the night she was born. She’s a young woman ready for leadership but with no clear way to make an impact since her mother is a fine leader and shows no signs of slowing down. (Note: it was only after I wrote the entire first draft that I’d realized I’d unconsciously drawn on the Wonder Woman myth for Sky’s backstory. Of course, WW mythology draws on far older stories, too.)
Sky, who is destined for great things, takes on the problem of how her people can survive with the Roman colonies showing no signs of leaving or falling apart. Ceti, who longs to fly to prove it can be done, and to prove his worth to his mentor.
The hero and heroine each have something to prove and that made for a story.
Even though they are from different worlds, different traditions, and different mindsets, they know what it’s like to struggle against a legacy, and they want to preserve their people the best way they can.
I also loved that I could explore some of the engineering and technology that my alternate history Romans might have discovered or invented and that, despite the technological difference, that Sky and her people could hold their own with the Romans. Their traditions–taking care of everyone in the tribe, a leadership that values input, and a respect for elders– make them, in many ways, more formidable than contentious Romans who need to be kept in line, who practice slavery as a matter of course, and see the world in the starkness of winners and losers.
I gave Ceti and Sky another war to fight, though the literal war with a fleet of Imperial Romans who have been sent to wrest back control of their breakaway colonies takes second place to the emotional and personal war between the Romans in Manhatos and the First Nations tribes that they’ve ignored or treated as lesser.
What I also discovered when revising and updating Eagle of Seneca was that I’d been more ambitious in my sequel storytelling than I’d remembered. I wanted to write about Sky and Ceti’s tale but I also wanted to write about the Seneca-verse as a whole. And, wow, I had fun with the Seneca-verse.
Yet there are so many stories left to be told still.
Sky’s mother needs a book. Young Licinius needs a book. Gaius possibly needs a book. Plus, I can’t get the idea of Roman pirates out of my head.
Maybe someday. 🙂