Tuesday, 26 July 2016

"Will There Ever Be A Third Varjak Paw Book?"

For everyone who wants to know the answer to this question, I've just written about it for The Guardian, as part of a feature in which they asked authors about their fictional characters growing up.  Here's the full text of what I wrote, with some additional illustrations...



When I first read Ursula Le Guin's Earthsea books, they were a trilogy about a hero in his prime. In A Wizard Of Earthsea (1968), The Tombs Of Atuan (1971) and The Farthest Shore (1972), she told the story of Ged, also known as Sparrowhawk, as he grew from Gontish goat-herd to world-saving wizard: a classic children's book narrative.

That seemed to be the end of it. But then she found new stories to tell. In Tehanu (1990), she showed Ged living a life without magic, learning to take satisfaction in the pleasures and pains of an ordinary existence with Tenar, the priestess who shared his greatest adventure. The book follows her story as much as Ged's. 


Then in The Other Wind (2001), Le Guin showed Ged near the end of his days: still wise, but almost an absence now, reconciled to his irrelevance. The story was about other characters finding their way without him. 


Le Guin wrote a new story whenever she had something new to say. That seems to me exactly right. I've never wanted to give my own characters new adventures in which nothing changes. Repetition seems to me a much bigger risk than letting them grow. 



So in my first book, Varjak Paw (2003), Varjak is a kitten: a very young character who learns a secret martial art from very ancient cats. In The Outlaw Varjak Paw (2005), he is a grown-up cat, and the questions he faces are grown-up questions about law and justice, politics and morality.




I stopped there, because I didn't have another story to tell about him. And I had other things on my mind, such as my space epic, Phoenix (2013), and my current work in progress, Tyger, both of which are about young characters finding their way. But the one question I've heard more than any other since 2005 is: "Will there ever be a third Varjak Paw book?"



To my surprise, now a decade has gone by, I find myself thinking more and more about Varjak. He seems to be ageing with me. I now feel sure there will be a third book, in which the story comes full circle. Varjak will now be an old cat himself, teaching the secret martial art to much younger kittens: passing it on. That makes sense to me as the shape of a trilogy, and the shape of a life.

But to write a story about an old character, perhaps you should be old yourself, to know what it feels like. I'm getting there faster than I thought possible, but I'm not quite ready yet. I am keeping notes, though, making plans, gathering material for that time. 

It's comforting to know that far greater writers have made this journey. I look at Le Guin's example. As she recently said of Earthsea: "Authors and wizards learn to be patient while the magic works." I just hope readers can be patient too.

34 comments:

Catlovermeiji said...

Hi SF Said! I really love your book Varjak Paw and the sequel, and I've read them both too many times to count! Their amazing, and I was really pleased to hear there would be a third book! It helped me to get some ideas on a book I'm trying to write (I hope that's OK with you) and it really inspired me! I want to read some more of your other books also, as they seem great too!

Keep the Way alive!

SF Said said...

Thank you so much for your amazing comment! I'm so glad you've enjoyed reading the Varjak Paw books, and it's incredible to hear that you've read them many times. It's also great to hear that you're looking forward to the third book – it will definitely happen one day!

In the meantime, have you had a chance to read PHOENIX yet? That's my only other one so far. I'm working on a new one called TYGER at the moment, but it still has a way to go before it's ready to be published. Please do come back and have a look here from time to time, though - I'll definitely blog about it when it's ready, as well as sharing any Varjak news!

And good luck with your own writing - I'm honoured if something I've written has helped to inspire you!

Keep the Way alive,
SF

Unknown said...

Dear SF Said
I read Varjak paw in 13 years. This book made a huge impression on me. I'm 23 now. It was the best book I've read so far. Though much time has passed, I am still waiting for the third part Varjak and wait until it comes out.
I hope someday I can personally express my gratitude
Thank you so much from all the Russian fans Varjak.
All the best
Ivan

SF Said said...

Dear Ivan,

Thank you so much for your comment! It's amazing to hear that Varjak Paw is still the best book you've read, after all that time. The third part will definitely happen one day - thank you for your patience. And please thank all Russian fans of Varjak Paw for me, and tell them to keep the Way alive!

With best wishes,
SF

Unknown said...

Hello SF said! I absolutely LOVE the book the Outlaw Varjak Paw! It's my favorite book and is just as good as warriors! But now to my main point. My point is that I'm a really good 2d animator and am willing to make a movie for it. I just need voices! I've just got a unique drawing style for cats but that's fine! I need to re-read the book and write a script first though!

-Narwhal Girl

SF Said said...

Dear Narwhal Girl,

Thank you so much for your message - I'm really glad you enjoyed reading The Outlaw Varjak Paw! I hope you enjoy re-reading it - and good luck with your script-writing and animation!

Keep the Way alive,
SF

Unknown said...

Thanks! I'll host a casting call soon! It might take a couple years but I'll update you on the progress every now and then!

SF Said said...

Good luck! And best wishes,
SF

Anonymous said...

I think PHEONIX should have a sequel about what happens after the space wall comes down and how there is still tension around Axxas and Humans.I want to know who Gala gives her power to and what Theobroma says about the alliance once the black hole has gone: is he still willing to unite?

SF Said said...

Thank you for you fantastic message! I don't have any plans to write a sequel to Phoenix at the moment – but if that is a story you would like to read, I would be totally honoured and thrilled if you wrote it yourself! I've seen great stories that readers wrote based on Phoenix and Varjak Paw, and some of the first stories I ever wrote were based on other people's characters and worlds – it's a good way to learn about writing. Here's a link to a blog I made about writing that I hope might be helpful.

With best wishes,
SF

bex said...

make a 3rd book pls! love your books :0

SF Said said...

Thank you so much, Bex! I will definitely write that third Varjak book one day. But in the meantime, do look out for TYGER, the new book I'm writing right now - I'm very excited about it! I'm still not sure when it will be ready to publish, but hopefully not too much longer now...

Keep the Way alive!
SF

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much for your Varjak Paw books. I love them! I hope there is a third book soon. Good luck with your books!

Sofro

SF Said said...

Dear Sofro,

Thank you so much for your very kind comment! As I say, there will be a third book one day, but not for a while yet. In the meantime, have you had a chance to read Phoenix yet? It's not about Varjak, but it comes from the same place, so I think you will enjoy it too.

Thanks again, and keep the Way alive!
SF

Inkghost said...

I've read the Varjak Paw books hundreds of times, and they're always just as thrilling each time. I first read it in primary school, and ever since then, they've remained my favourite books. Thank you for writing them, they are a huge part of my life and have taught me so much. Do you still plan on writing a third? I love the concept you had for it.

Keep the way alive!

-Inkghost

SF Said said...

Dear Inkghost,

Thank you so much for your amazing message! It means so much to an author to hear things like that. How long has it been since you read it for the first time?

I do still plan on writing a third book about Varjak one day. But at the moment, everything I've got is going into a new sequence of books that I think will be my best yet. The working title is TYGER and here's a bit about it, if you'd like to know more:
http://www.sfsaid.com/2016/01/i-had-amazing-message-from-reader.html

Thanks again, and keep the Way alive!
SF

Amira said...

Omg I absolutely loved this book!! It is the best book i've ever read I think that you are a brilliant author and I really do look forward to varjack paw 3

😃😃😃

SF Said said...

Thank you so much Amira, that means a lot to me! The third book will definitely happen one day.

Until then - keep the Way alive!
SF

Adam said...

Hi SF Said,

I'm a primary school teacher in my 6th year of teaching and have had Varjak Paw suggested to me by many pupils over the years and I finally got round to reading it and was really blown away. It really captivated me and brought me back to being a 10 year old boy who was never a big reader but had a few books that I adored. I am now really lucky to have the opportunity to share my favourite books with kids in my class and I have a long list desperate to read this after my review.

Thanks for an awesome book!

Adam

SF Said said...

Dear Adam,

Thank you so much for your amazing message! That really means a lot to me. I don't find writing easy – Varjak Paw took me 5 years to get right - but all the hard work feels worthwhile when I hear something like that.

And thank you so much for sharing it with your class! Please say hello to them for me, and wish them all HAPPY READING!

All the best,
SF

Kaiden said...

Dear Mr Said.
I'm just finishing your "The outlaw Varjak Paw" and it feels a bit sad because there are no more books.
I have Asperger's and even though I love to read I find it difficult to read thick books with lot's of text as I get stressed. Your two Varjak Paw books however I haven't had any problems reading because they are so good I couldn't stop. So thank you for these great books and I can't wait for the third one to come out.

/Kaiden

SF Said said...

Dear Kaiden,

Thank you so much for your wonderful comment - that really means a lot to me!

As I said in the post above, there will be a third Varjak book, but not for a while yet. In the meantime, you could try Phoenix - it's longer than Varjak, and not about cats, but I think if you enjoyed both Varjak and Outlaw, you should enjoy it too. And I think I'm in the late stages of a new book called TYGER, which I've been working on for the last 6 and a half years! Hopefully that should be the next book of mine to come out - you can read more about it here, if you'd like to know more:
http://www.sfsaid.com/2016/01/i-had-amazing-message-from-reader.html

Thanks again, and keep the Way alive,
SF

Unknown said...

Dear S.F. Said,

I just want to say I am very grateful and frankly overjoyed to have found this post here explaining your thoughts on a third Varjak Paw book.

I read the first book on its release when it was very relevant for me, though a copy of the Outlaw didn't find it's way to me until late 2010. I guess I had by now considered myself to have outgrown the series somewhat, being well and and truly an adult (and if I am not an adult at this age, then society is in a spot of trouble). But I just recently paged through the original while inspecting my bookshelf prior to a move and I was struck again by how well constructed and engaging every passage I came across was. It got me thinking, at least, how Varjak's story might continue. Your points of discussion above are the best thing I could have heard on this subject. I will look forward to reading your next entry into Varjak's world when you have gathered the experience necessary for it. I certainly would like to hold on to the series for many more years so that I can help another generation appreciate it.

Kind Regards,

Roland

SF Said said...

Dear Roland,

Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment! That really means a lot to me. I hope you do hold on to the series, and it would be absolutely wonderful if you do pass the books on to another generation. I always hoped that my books might be ones that people would hold onto and continue to read even when they were adults - as my own favourite books tend to be ones that you can read and enjoy at any age. I think the best children's books are books for an audience that includes children, but excludes no-one. They are really books for everyone, and that what I set out to write!

Thanks again, and keep the Way alive,
SF

Huzaifah said...

I see many similarities between the fabulous How to Train Your Dragon series and your book. I've read both the Varjak Paw books and they're both great! While I haven't read the HTTYD books, I've seen the second film and some of the TV series. I'm pretty sure an on-screen adaptation as well as a third book would go really, really well. HTTYD's characters grow from 15 to 21 years along the course of the trilogy (plus various shorts and 7 series) and from what you've said, you want Varjak to grow too. Also both HTTYD and VP are British - if you make a film, it should be (preferably) be voiced British people, I think.
I'm keeping the Way alive...
Regards,
Huzaifah (15 years of age)

RILEY said...

HI SF SAID MY NAME IS RILEY IM 15 AND YEARS AGO YOU CAME INTO MY SCHOOL HILLSGROVE AND SIGNED MY BOOK AND I WANTED TO THANK YOU FOR MAKING SUCH AN AMAZING BOOK

SF Said said...

Dear Riley,

Thank you so much! It's brilliant to hear that you still remember the visit - it was a pleasure to come to Hillsgrove. And it's brilliant to hear that you enjoyed my book - thank you for letting me know!

Keep the Way alive,
SF

SF Said said...

Dear Huzaifah,

Thank you so much for your message! I'm really honoured - I love How To Train Your Dragon, and all of Cressida Cowell's work, so it means a lot to me. I still hope the Varjak film will happen one day, and will have British voices if it does! I'll definitely blog about it and tweet about it if I have any news to share on that front.

In the meantime, have you read Phoenix yet? It's not about cats, but I think if you enjoyed Varjak and Outlaw, you should enjoy it too.

Thanks again, and keep the Way alive,
SF

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for writing your Varjak Paw books! I am reading the first one with school and I absolutely love it! I can't wait to get back to school so I can keep reading it! after that, I will read the Outlaw Varjak Paw as well! You are a brilliant author so I will also read Phoenix, the third Varjak Paw book, and Tyger when it comes out! Thanks so much for writing these great books! You have inspired me and I want to become an author myself now.

Keep the Way alive!

From Anonymous

SF Said said...

Thank you so much for writing me that amazing comment! It really means a lot to me. I hope you enjoy reading my other books too.

And it's brilliant to hear that you want to become an author yourself now! If you'd like any writing tips – here are some you might find useful:
http://www.sfsaid.com/2017/01/three-steps-to-writing.html

Thanks again, and keep the Way alive!
SF

Rupert said...

Hi SF Said I'm 10 years old but I love your books so much, including varjak paw. Please make a third one. Thanks, Rupert.

SF Said said...

Hi Rupert - thank you for your wonderful message! I am definitely planning to write that third Varjak book one day. In the meantime, have you read Phoenix yet? It's not about Varjak, but I think if you enjoyed his adventures, you will enjoy it too!

Thanks again, and keep the Way alive!
SF

Anonymous said...

I really hope that their will be a third Varjak Paw because I absolutely LOVED the two. Varjak paws
PLEASE make a third one

SF Said said...

Thank you so much! As I said in the blog above, there will definitely be a third Varjak Paw book one day. In the meantime, if you've enjoyed the first two, have you tried reading Phoenix yet? It might sound very different - humans and aliens instead of cats and dogs - but it comes from very much the same place!

Here's Dave McKean's amazing book trailer, to give you a flavour of it:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p5yQjwqDFXA

Thanks again, and keep the Way alive,
SF