Mary C is the winner of Homicide and Halo-Halo. Watch for an email from Mia!
I so happy to welcome back Mia! It’s been such a joy to watch her go from unpublished to published author. And I’ve been lucky enough to work with her on Sisters in Crime’s two big awards — the Eleanor Taylor Bland Award for Crime Writers of Color and the Pride Award for Emerging LBGTQIA+ Crime Writers. Mia is here celebrating the release of Homicide and Halo-Halo.
The Dreaded Second Book Syndrome (plus giveaway)
Hello, everyone! Mia P. Manansala here, on the release week of my second book, Homicide and Halo-Halo, to talk about something many writers dread: Second Book Syndrome.
I knew what it was before I got my book deal. I’d been lucky enough to build a writing community long before I sold my first book, and had the guidance of friends who were further down the path than me to warn me about the various ups and downs of publishing. And part of that guidance was hearing about Second Book Syndrome and how they were dealing with it.
For those of you not familiar with the term, Second Book Syndrome is when writers learn that writing their second book is often much, MUCH harder than their first. It can also refer to an author’s second book not being as good as their first, but that can usually be explained by the first definition.
To be clear, when I say second book, I mean second book under contract. Many authors write multiple books before finding an agent to represent them and/or managing to sell a book to a publisher. Arsenic and Adobo was my debut, but it was the second book I ever wrote and the easiest book I’ve written so far. Go figure.
Anyway, why is that second book so much more difficult? After all, you’ve already proven that you could complete a book. You’ve even proven you could sell the book. Shouldn’t it just get easier every time? To that I say, Oh you sweet summer child…
All joking aside, the reason second books tend to be more difficult is due to two things: Time and Pressure.
Before you sell your first book, you have all the time in the world to make it right. It took about two and a half years to finish my first book (which got me my first agent but never sold) and close to two years to finish and polish the book that would become Arsenic and Adobo. Do you want to know how much time I had to write Homicide and Halo-Halo? About nine months. Which doesn’t sound too terrible, until you take into account that I’m a slow writer. I was also editing and promoting my debut, not to mention working a day job (for part of it, more on that later) while drafting this second one.
This brings me to the pressure aspect. Before my deal, I focused on writing books that I wanted to read. I got into mystery writing because I loved the genre but couldn’t find books that featured people like me or rang true to my life. So when I started writing, the only person I had to please was myself, and hope that was enough to get the attention of an agent and editor. Amazingly, it was! But now that I was a soon-to-be published author, the expectations for my books changed completely.
I saw how excited other Filipinos were to see themselves in a mainstream book. I remembered all the kindness and help I’d received from other mystery writers. And I thought about my pub team, who believed in me and were doing their best to push my book and make it a success, and I just…couldn’t bear the thought of letting any of these people down.
I believed in Arsenic and Adobo. It wasn’t perfect, but it was a good, solid book that I was (and still am) immensely proud of. But what if I couldn’t do it again? What if I gained readers only to lose them immediately with a shoddy second book? What if I’d finally achieved my dream of being a published author only to lose it all because it turned out I didn’t have any other books in me?
Take these feelings of anxiety and throw in a global pandemic, plus a bit of job insecurity for good measure (the entire branch of my former company got laid off the same day I signed my contract, yikes, but I eventually got a part-time job), and it’s a wonder I got any writing done at all!
BUT I DID IT. It was unbelievably difficult and there were many times where I thought it was never going to happen, but now my second book is out in the world and I love it. Hope you all do too!
To celebrate, I’m giving a signed paperback copy of HOMICIDE AND HALO-HALO (U.S. only)! To enter, please comment and let me know of a series whose later books are just as good, if not better, than their first. I’ll start: Sherry Thomas’s Lady Sherlock series. I don’t understand how every single book is so darn good (I think it’s up to six now?) but it’s my current favorite.
Here’s a bit about Homicide and Halo-Halo:
Death at a beauty pageant turns Tita Rosie’s Kitchen upside down in the latest entry of this witty and humorous cozy mystery series by Mia P. Manansala.
Things are heating up for Lila Macapagal. Not in her love life, which she insists on keeping nonexistent despite the attention of two very eligible bachelors. Or her professional life, since she can’t bring herself to open her new café after the unpleasantness that occurred a few months ago at her aunt’s Filipino restaurant, Tita Rosie’s Kitchen. No, things are heating up quite literally, since summer, her least favorite season, has just started.
To add to her feelings of sticky unease, Lila’s little town of Shady Palms has resurrected the Miss Teen Shady Palms Beauty Pageant, which she won many years ago—a fact that serves as a wedge between Lila and her cousin slash rival, Bernadette. But when the head judge of the pageant is murdered and Bernadette becomes the main suspect, the two must put aside their differences and solve the case—because it looks like one of them might be next.
Bio: Mia P. Manansala (she/her) is a writer and certified book coach from Chicago who loves books, baking, and bad-ass women. She uses humor (and murder) to explore aspects of the Filipino diaspora, queerness, and her millennial love for pop culture. Her debut novel, ARSENIC AND ADOBO, is nominated for the Agatha, Barry, and Lefty Awards, and the sequel, HOMICIDE AND HALO-HALO, just came out.
Find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram: @MPMtheWriter Or check out her website: www.miapmanansala.com