Why indeed? Let me start from the start, because starting from the end is very 1990s Tarantino, and you know how I don’t like to write about the 90s.
Girl Afraid was originally written because I didn’t want to typecast myself in the Oirish Nostalgia genre, I wanted to write something outside the First Person style, and I’d given up on getting representation, so I wanted to write something that every agent and publisher would have rejected due to its content. At the same time, I thought The Boys of Summer was quite niche – even though it has only ever got positive reviews, I have no gauge for how many people gave up after the first few pages due to the language barrier thing. (Or maybe because they just hated it, but they never said that in the way reviewers did with Girl Afraid, so I’ll literally never know).
Anyways, the plan with Girl Afraid, before I decided it was going to be all censorship-proof and shocking and controversial, was to to make it more accessible. Which meant making it dumber. If The Boys of Summer was like a movie, Girl Afraid was going to be like a Michael Bay movie. Because stupid is accessible. But once I made it about what it was about, that canceled out the accessibility, so now you had something that fell between two stools – on the one hand, it was stupid enough to impress people who found The Boys of Summer too niche, but it was offensive enough to make 80% of them get sick in their handbags.
So, it was a failure, right? No. Girl Afraid has more reviews, more downloads, more internet chatter, and more hard cash sales than anything I’ve ever written. Even thought I know it’s the worst novel I’ve ever written. It is the Cars 2 of my Pixar Universe. And me calling it the worst doesn’t mean I hate it, I am just putting it up against The Boys of Summer, which I genuinely think is amazing, and Sweetness Follows, which I think is even better, even though literally no one has read it yet.
So, is Still Ill a forced sequel? Not at all. I always had plans for where I wanted that story to go. It never really ended with Poppy, Alice and Harry in that room. It was just that I had other plans too. Some of which (Chink and After London) never really became anything, because of genre confusion worries. But, now, when I’m about to release A Certain Romance, part 3 of the Boys of Summer thingy is coming out at the end of February, and I’ll be at a loose end for what to write next, sure. And my plotting for it is pretty exciting/mental/controversial/sexy/surprising, etc. And just as pulpy as Girl Afraid was. So watch this space.