One reason interactive serialized fiction is so fun is because readers influence every installment of the story. Readers have opportunities to do this in several ways. They might send me a quick note letting me know what they like and dislike so far. They might participate in a survey about a developing character. They might vote on an important detail. And, always, readers are right there with me in that special place where real life inspires fiction.
While reading Part Four, watch for these places where real life inspired fiction.
Mystery abounds, especially regarding Shasta.
When I asked readers what they liked about the story so far, the consensus was that a bit of mystery was just the ticket. Expect the unexpected, and all that.
Shasta definitely developed into a mystery. When I asked readers what they thought might be going on with Shasta, I got mixed responses. Some readers, frankly, didn’t care for Shasta. Understandably so. Much of the time, snitty Shasta seems to have little regard for anyone else.
But I’ve been taking cues from Macy. And while Macy admits to finding Shasta annoying, she also notes Shasta saved her from life as a raging alcoholic. There’s a tender side to Shasta. I’m sure of it.
One reader wrote this in agreement:
She puts on a blustery facade but deep down she’s very caring about her sisters. I think many of her antics are to try to impress people and keep them from knowing what a soft sensitive heart she has.
But then again, sigh, there’s also the issue of Shasta “disappearing” into the forest with Ralph. Frequently. What’s up there?
One reader suggested this:
Since we all assume that Aunt Shasta is well, erm…having *fun* with Ralph, they could instead be doing something completely different. … But if she told anyone—horrors! Macy would think she’d gone cuckoo (she already does in fact) and Melia might insist on tagging along. No, better to keep this thing a secret.
In light of this jumble of observations, I did what any reasonable writer would do. I put my most nosy character “on it.”
I didn’t suggest, in so many words, that Macy follow Shasta and Ralph the next time she saw them disappear into the forest. But I did keep quiet, act nonchalant, and shrug non-commit-ally when Macy raised her eyebrows and sent me a do-you-want-me-to-investigate-as-a-caretaker look.
In Part Four, we’ll tag along when Macy follows Shasta.
Readers choose Amelia’s next book.
Readers voted on what book Amelia would read in Part Four. The options were:
- Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens (after spending her childhood in debtors’ prison, a young woman creates a new life)
- Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear (female detective mystery set in early 1900s England)
- Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt (an older woman befriends a captive octopus)
- Vacuuming in the Nude and Other Ways to Get Attention by Peggy Rowe (comedy from a woman in her 80th decade)
The choice with the most reader votes will be revealed in Part Four.
A character named Nancy visits Wren Island.
While I was writing Part Four, a friend died. Too young, too soon, too unexpected.
A few days after my friend Nancy’s death, I visited nearby Guemes Island, a place Nancy had always said she wanted to visit—and a place that inspires so much of Wren Island. I boarded the little ferry that resembles the flat-fronted towboat belonging to Ralph. At the general store, I sat on the covered porch that resembles Virgil’s market porch on Wren. I ordered a freshly baked ranger cookie—the world’s best, much like how the muffins on Wren are the world’s best. And I shed a few tears, thinking of Nancy.
While I was there, Allison Theodore’s cell phone rang. From an unlisted number. And Allison, being as safety conscious as she is, wasn’t answering. Ring, ring, ring, and Allison never answered. Finally, the caller realized she’d have to reach Allison a different way. She’d have to show up on Wren Island herself. In person.
The wheels in my head began turning. Asking what if …
In Part Four, a new character will arrive on Wren Island by Ralph’s towboat. She’ll enjoy a sweet treat from the market. She’ll be kind and smart and interested in people. She’ll watch for whales like we watch for whales.
And her name will be Nancy.
Lokita gets extra love and attention.
While I was writing Part Four, I experienced another loss. My little dog Moki died. (What a heartache! Thank you, dear reader, for your hug, which I can feel across the internet miles.)
Moki was exceptionally sweet. The only thing she ever asked for was to be snuggled! And … she was the inspiration behind the character named Lokita on Wren Island.
It’s not obvious in Part Four, but if you read between the lines, you’ll see places where Lokita is given extra special attention. Because she’s an extra special doggie.
Part Four of The Wren Island Series will be released on September 22, 2023.
The next installment will be released on December 21, 2023. With interactive serialized fiction, readers directly influence the story in real time. It’s easy and fun to catch up. When you subscribe to receive my emails, you’ll receive a link to the parts that have already been released. Then, watch your inbox for behind-the-scenes updates and opportunities to influence what happens next!