The Writing of Reliquary
Print View

as related by Lincoln Child

"It was the spring of 1995, or thereabouts. We were just finishing up work on MOUNT DRAGON, and were happy with the result. But I wasn't sure where we would go next--if we would write another book together, or if we would work on solo projects.

I'd made an appearance at a sales conference for Tor Books--our publisher at that time--and at a reception afterwards I was talking with Tom Doherty, the head of Tor and a really great, visionary guy. I'm not sure if it was Tom or myself that first came up with the notion, but we began batting around the idea of a sequel to RELIC. This was before RELIC became a bestseller in paperback, so we really didn't know how big a phenomenon it would become. But after the sales conference we gave our agent a call, and it wasn't long before we had a sequel offer from Tor that we couldn't refuse. We'd begun work on another novel by that time, but we put it aside--temporarily, we thought--to work on the sequel.

Doug and I signed the contract a little gleefully. We thought that RELIQUARY would be much easier to write than either RELIC or MOUNT DRAGON. After all, we already had the plot, handed to us on a silver salver. The epilogue to RELIC was left open-ended; all we had to do was run with it.

Or so we thought, in our ignorance. As it turned out, RELIQUARY was  arguably the hardest to write of all our books to date.

Why? To begin with, there are a couple of technical reasons. At the end of RELIC, the reader knows a lot more of what is really going on than the actual protagonists of the novel do. Margo Green and Agent Pendergast, for example, think they know the truth about Whittlesey and creature, Mbwun, at the end of RELIC--but they don't. Of course, they'll learn the truth at some point during RELIQUARY. But that left us with the problem: how do we make the book interesting for returning RELIC readers, up until the point where the characters themselves are up to speed on what's really going on? One way we tried to do this was to fool the returning readers. That's why we had the [WARNING: major plot revelation ahead] skeleton found in the opening chapter turn out to be Kawakita. All through part one--or so we hoped--the reader would think Kawakita was the evil mastermind behind what was going on. So, when it's revealed that he's actually dead, we hoped the returning RELIC readers would say: 'whoa! What's going on here?'

A similar problem lay in the backstory that RELIQUARY inherited from RELIC. People opening up RELIQUARY who had already read RELIC would have a great deal of background information on characters, plot, secrets--information that people who had not read RELIC (or who had only seen the movie) would not have. How to get that information across without force-feeding, or without boring the returning RELIC readers? Both Doug and I hate sequels whose opening chapters basically say, 'excuse me while I devote the next fifty pages to The Story Thus Far.' One of the most difficult parts of RELIQUARY was determining the bare minimum of information we needed to include, and then finding the most effective and least intrusive way to slip-stream it in.

But probably the biggest problem was in avoiding what might be called 'sequelitis.' That's the empty feeling you get reading a sequel that just seems tired, or merely workmanlike, or perhaps an uninspired rehashing of the original. In RELIQUARY, Doug and I wanted to avoid that at all costs. So we were constantly challenging ourselves to add new twists, new wrinkles (so to speak), while advancing the story started in RELIC  and keeping it all fresh and exciting. You the readers will have to be the ultimate judges as to whether we succeeded.

So does all this mean that we won't write another book in the RELIC series? You might get slightly different answers from me than you would from Doug. But one thing I can safely say is that both Doug and myself are really interested in doing another thriller in which some of the characters from the RELIC books reappear as the protagonists--though not necessarily within a RELIC environment. Exactly who those characters will be must remain our secret for the time being, but it's safe to say that Agent Pendergast most certainly will be among them.

Thanks for your interest and your support of our novels!"

 

                                     -- Lincoln Child


2019 Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child