Warning: this post contains spoilers for the first 3 books of the Watchbearers series, and I recommend reading those books first. Also be warned that this shows the ‘sausage-making’ aspect of writing, which some of you may not want to know about.
As I finished writing Millennium Crash, I was thinking about what would come next for the various characters, trying to decide what the story should be for the sequel. I looked at who these people were and what events might flow from the actions they would take in the wake of how that first book ended. I could see how the stories of several of the time-travelers would be connected enough to make sense as part of the same overall story, but Sam and Bailey were an exception. Whatever adventures that pair had would be too separate from what the other characters were going through to fit in with the rest of Centenary Separation.
Bailey would just follow Sam’s lead (for the most part) but what Sam would want to do was an interesting question. She was now a team leader, deciding where and when they should travel and what their specific work should be, but unlike most of the others, even the ‘helpers’ like herself, she wasn’t a real researcher. Take Turner and Nye – they were both graduate students with specialized fields of study they wanted to pursue. But Sam was just an undergraduate who wanted to learn without any particular passion for a specific subject. Now that she was in charge, what would drive her?
In the first book, she’d been driven to seek justice for Harold’s murder, and that determination was something new to her, arising out of those unique circumstances. But it had also come from somewhere deep in her character. A passion for justice had awoken inside of Sam, and that wouldn’t go away just because she’d found it for Harold. She might not intentionally seek out wrongs to right, but she couldn’t help being drawn to them.
Then there was her sidekick Bailey. He might not have much say in what work they did, but since he was retired law enforcement with a wealth of knowledge and experience about matters criminal, the two of them together were already a perfect pair to do some amateur sleuthing. I love a good whodunit, so book 3 with Sam and Bailey would be a great opportunity to write a (mostly) traditional mystery. But what kind of mystery?
I wanted this to be Sam and Bailey’s story more than anything, so the book would need to focus on them and their roles as sleuths trying to unravel the mystery they put themselves in the middle of. That would also give me the chance to examine how the dynamic between them developed after what they went through in Millennium Crash.
So I knew I would write a whodunit, and I had my ‘detectives’ in Sam and Bailey, but I still needed a setting, a murder victim or two, and a nice cast of suspects. But before I went to work on the specifics, I wanted to write Centenary Separation, and I concentrated on that, setting aside Sam and Bailey for the time being. And that turned out to be the best decision I could’ve made.
Next: Part 2 – Making the Most