Commemorating this moment. Today I began working on the third book in the Sassy Saints Series, Jesse’s Triumph, and am celebrating my first 1000 words.
So, some background. I wrote my debut novel The Good Daughter (now re-published as Sabiha’s Dilemma) in 2007 and it was traditionally published in 2009, was shortlisted for a bunch of prizes and won one, making me an award-winning author. Read more here. Like most debut novels this was a book close to my heart and my character Sabiha and I had a lot of similarities: we were of Bosnian background, had a mother who was a bipolar sufferer and came from the suburb of St Albans, a low socio-economic suburb in Melbourne’s West.
I loved the world so much, I wanted to immerse myself more into it. I was lucky enough to receive a grant and embarked on the sequel. I originally wanted to write from all the other character’s point of view, but the muse wasn’t having it. Instead a new character surfaced, Alma. She was Sabiha’s half sister that she never knew about and she stole the show. I submitted the sequel but my publisher wasn’t into it and because it was a sequel to an already-published book, there seemed no point submitting elsewhere, so I put it in my metaphorical bottom drawer and forgot about it.
When I got the rights back to The Good Daughter I was going to publish both books as a duology, but my muse piped up. She wanted me to tell the story of all of the characters and so Sassy Saints were born. As there were multiple books with the title The Good Daughter I re-branded and re-titled my debut. For more about the series:
Sassy Saints Series
Follow the lives of six sassy teens coming of age in St Albans, as they navigate their sexual and cultural identity and search for belonging.
Book One-Sabiha’s Dilemma
Sabiha’s dilemma is being the good daughter so that her mentally ill mother is accepted back into the Bosnian community.
Book Two-Alma’s Loyalty
When Alma finds out that she has a half sister she never knew, she is faced with competing loyalties.
Book Three-Jesse’s Triumph
After Jesse’s debut novel is published while he’s a high school student, he contends with becoming popular.
Book Four-Brian’s Conflict
Brian’s dreams of being a designer are in conflict with his father’s hopes he’ll join the family business as a bricklayer.
Book Five-Dina’s Burden
Dina carries the burden of living up to her parent’s expectations to make up for her brother’s errant ways.
Book Six-Adnan’s Secret
Adnan is the perfect son carrying the weight of his migrant parent’s expectations, who lives a secret life.
While I have been embarking on publishing the first two books, my muse has been pondering how to write these in the background. And this weekend I had the perfect epiphany. These books would be a mosaic where we would see scenes already featured in the first two books from Jesse’s point of view. The reader would see what he was thinking and feeling as I continued their love story, and this would then also allow me to do this for all the characters.
It means I already have the backbone of the series plotted, it’s just a matter of writing a story arc for each character that follows the trajectory of the known and then takes the reader to new territory.
I am so excited about being able to immerse myself in this world again and to bring these stories to life. I am also so happy to be starting a new book. I have about four more young adult titles already written that need to be revised and prepared for publication, but I need the adrenaline of new discovery. Publishing and marketing has its own joy, but nothing gives me a thrill like creating a new book.
So I’ll be juggling all my different roles and be able to stimulate my creativity with all of these roles. I’ve set a publication date of 31 January 2023 for Jesse’s Triumph so I have plenty of time to develop this story, alongside my publishing schedule.
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Amra Pajalić is an award-winning author, an editor and teacher who draws on her Bosnian cultural heritage to write own voices stories for young people, who like her, are searching to mediate their identity and take pride in their diverse culture. She writes memoir, young adult and romance under the pen name Mae Archer.
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