Reading Time: 4 minutes

Okay, so this has been a long time in the making. Some months ago, I finished writing the sequel to my first fiction book, and first in the Survival of the Fittest series. The first instalment was called Metamorphosis [UK]. The sequel is called Adaptation. The setting is, presciently, a pandemic that ravages the world. It follows a number of disparate but rather “normal” people as they are drawn inexorably together.

I really wanted to know, since there was a big gap in writing between the first and the second book, whether it flowed well from the first instalment. As a result, I wanted a couple of test readers who had just read the first one to then read the second in quick succession. Luckily, I found a couple. One of them works for a production company who had read my book unsolicited and contacted me to say that he absolutely loved it, including:

…it’s great, the slow dawning realisation of the full horror of what’s happening is very well done. The characters feel “real”, acting in shock and fear, rather than square jawed “let’s save the day!”. Metamorphosis is very cinematic, as you know!

I like the way the slow burn has been replaced with all hell breaking loose. The moment when our three sea faring friends are first attacked is brilliantly done. Still loving Bevan � Vince is interesting in that you’ve resisted the urge to soften the edges on his character so far. It’s a brave choice, especially for a POV character, but so far it’s working really well. You definitely have a gift for dialogue. The interaction between the various characters feels very natural and real.

Also, the fact that several major characters freeze in the face of an attack, especially their first encounter. Hollywood tropes are that everyone always steps up straight away, but in real life – as you’ve written – fight or flight often translates to panic �

After he finished the first one, he confirmed:

Loved it. Nicely paced, well thought “action” sequences, realistic characters and dialogue. Intrigued to get stuck into book 2, and hopefully find out a bit more about what’s caused this to happen. The sense of dread for the 3 seafarers when they’re first swarmed by a group of “zombies” is particularly wonderfully done. The sense of confusion and hesitancy is real – far more real than the instant “hero” reactions of the alpha types who always seem to inhabit these worlds.

This guy is a really useful critic, who knows the genre and appreciates what I was trying to do and how to build stories, so I decided not to release the second until I had his feedback. Halfway through, he let me know:

Halfway through. The pace is terrific, it’s breathless but you’re still managing to put some nice character beats in there. You’ve resisted the temptation so far to soften Vince’s character, which is good. Most writers would try to make him more sympathetic, but you’ve kept him as a bit of a selfish twat so far…

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Jonathan MS Pearce

A TIPPLING PHILOSOPHER Jonathan MS Pearce is a philosopher, author, columnist, and public speaker with an interest in writing about almost anything, from skepticism to science, politics, and morality,...