It's a joy because you largely got all that tedious exposition and world building stuff out the way, but a pain because you have to make sure what you're writing isn't a rehash of the first book.
Due to this, I'm doing something I never did with The Cornerstone, and plotting the sequel.
Not too heavily, mind... There's nothing worse than painting yourself into a box you then struggle to get yourself out of 2oo pages down the line. If you structure everything too much at the outset, you can suffocate any creativity, and the most fun about writing for me is thinking things up on the spur of the moment and weaving them into the story.
...But I've conceded that I have to do a bit of forward planning this time - if only in terms of the overall story arc and vital elements to the story. After all, I have a successful book to live up to now, so the seat-of-the-pants approach probably isn't the way to go :)
The most important element in a fantasy story like this is of course your villain. I have to follow Morodai and the Dwellers with something as good (if not better), so I'm choosing someone with a more personal connection to Max. This should set up a very different dynamic than the first book, where Max was pretty much fighting amorphous, monstrous entities - and a villain with a very simple agenda. This time round he's going to be up against something that's going to get under his skin a lot more... The conflict between them should sizzle.
The sequel's also going to expand on the Chapter Lands, which I'm looking forward to doing as the pace of the first book necessitated a rather 'broad strokes' approach, so I couldn't get further into how the Chapter World operated. The sequel will be more concentrated on the Carvallen Chapter Lands and its denizens, which will give you a better idea of how the place runs as a society. Don't worry though, I'm not about to start printing maps and glossaries. I'm a fantasy writer, not a cartographer!
Pretty much every main character from the first book will be coming back... mainly because I'm quite attached to them, and I've thankfully thought of a way to bring them all into it again that doesn't seem forced and unrealistic (I hope!) ...and that includes Nugget the dog, who, if I'm being brutally honest, is probably my favourite character other than Max.
Timescale-wise, I'd like to get a first draft finished by the beginning of Summer and a release before autumn, but we'll have to see how it goes. I'm already feeling that the story of this book might be a bit more complicated than the first, so it may take more time to get it absolutely right and singing the right notes :)
For those of you that enjoyed the first book, I very much hope you'll like the second when it's finished. It's thanks to you that I'm writing it in the first place!
As I go along, I'll try to post more thoughts and updates here about its progress, as well as some developments with the first book The Cornerstone that are currently in the pipeline.