I'm maybe a third of the way into Paying The Piper, the follow-on story to Hamelin's Child. I'd say sequel, but it isn't - and although it will be a more satisfying read if the books are read in order, it isn't essential and either book will stand alone.
Some old characters (no, they didn't all survive the first novel and no, I'm not saying who did), some new, but in order to write a new story and not just a rehash of something that's gone before, I needed a new point-of-view character - somebody with whom the reader can identify and provide a fresh perspective; somebody whose own issues and problems are fundamental to the story. Enter Amanda, who made the mistake of sleeping with her boss at the Christmas party. Of course her husband has found out and done a runner with their nine-month-old baby, after cancelling their credit cards and emptying the joint bank account. So she's come to London to find her in-laws because she knows that's where Paul will be. And that's where she meets Michael, who's totally freaked out after receiving a prison visiting order from the thoroughly nasty Eddie, who we've already met.
But there are plans being made for Michael - at both ends of the food chain. He's offered a job by Eddie's old boss and refusal isn't an option. Meanwhile up in Manchester, daddy's princess Caro is dealing heroin with bad-boy Mal. She's taken a fancy to Michael and what Caro wants, Caro gets. One way or another.
Now I know Michael inside out. I've lived with him through the terror of the past 12 months and watched him rebuild his life with the help of his counsellors. And Amanda is straightforward enough so far: in her black-and-white world, there are no shades of grey. I'm not quite sure yet how far she will go to get her daughter back or when she will realise that real-life isn't like the television and the good guys don't always win. But she was also going to be a new love interest for Michael, despite the age difference.
And then Caro breezed into the story. She was supposed to be one of the bad guys but quickly made it clear that underneath she's really rather sweet, and if you could just get her away from her violent bit-of-rough boyfriend, she'd be halfway to respectable. But Caro's dad has money and Mal isn't going to let go easily. And Michael is already realising that Caro may be the one person who can really understand him.
I don't need all this sexual tension, thank you very much. I certainly don't want to be playing Amanda off against Caro. But I'm going to have to give them their heads and see where it goes at least for the next few chapters, before I try to rein it all in a bit. Mal is in control of the situation right now, Michael has a hot-line to London and Amanda's about to throw her teddy out of the pram and call the police. At least she would if Mal hadn't just trashed her mobile....