Prequels and sequels

In December a prequel to Great Expectations – called Havisham by Ronald Frame – is coming out. Not that I’ve read Great Expectations (that’s a confession!), although I have seen the BBC series. Havisham will be produced by a skilled publishing house, so could be very good, but I wondered how readers feel about this. Prequels and sequels to classics are fraught with difficulties for the new writer; the book is liable to be at either end of the spectrum – either loved or hated. I remember a sequel to Gone With the Wind. And another for Picnic at Hanging Rock. What did ever happen to Miranda? Maybe that’s a mystery we don’t want to solve?

As a reader, I have such a clear picture in my head of what characters look like that another writer’s take on what happened to them before or after the well-loved book just doesn’t work for me. I’ve never read one I liked, so I steer clear. How about you?

Exciting in the garden yesterday. I picked my own lettuce for a sandwich. Very tasty!

4 responses to “Prequels and sequels

  1. Totally agree with you on this one! I’ve tried about 3 sequels and although I finished them all, I doubt I’ll read another. The feel I get for the original is never the same, and if we were meant to have had a prequel or a sequel, then the original author would have written them.

  2. I agree about prequels and sequels written entirely by a different author, which are never going to match your expectations if you love the original/s. But what about things like the Siilmarillion and Unfinished Tales, which were *compiled* and arranged by JRRT’s son rather than actually written by him?

    • There are always going to be people who hate the prequel or sequel. But why shouldn’t authors be permitted to spin their past or future fantasy for a much-loved hero or heroine? Their story may be dreadful but you don’t have to read it. And if it keeps them off the street or arrests their descent into madness because of thwarted creativity, then why not let them take up their pen or bash away at a keyboard?

      • *shrug* Not sure if you were replying to my post or the OP, but I take your point. No one is saying authors shouldn’t be allowed to write a prequel or sequel to anything (as if that would stop them!), or that all prequels/sequels are awful. But writing what is essentially fanfiction needs to be handled very carefully, because you have a plethora of people who adore those characters, and the opinions of that established fanbase are often going to be prejudiced *against* you from the get-go. Even if the original book isn’t all that great, some people are going to treat it as ~~sacred canon~~ and hate anything you produce. Others are so loyal to the original pictures in their head (this is not necessarily a bad thing) that it’ll take something fantastic to change their minds. Others, of course, are open to conversion.

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