Sara writes: While an author is writing their second novel, I think it’s probably safe to say their publisher is sweating. All the time and attention that a publishing house gives to a new author is in the hope that they are supporting a career, and not just a one-book wonder. When a publisher buys that first book, they usually have the chance to read most if not all of it before they commit. Yet, they sometimes take a punt on contracting a second book with little more than an outline to go on. Then they can only wait and see if the author can deliver. The publisher often isn’t the only one biting their nails. For a writer, this second book brings a whole host of new challenges. A first novel is usually a story close to the heart, and has been worked on in solitude, perhaps in secret, over a number of years. This time, there is a contractual deadline that looms ever closer, and people are waiting with some kind of expectation. Depending on how the first book fared with the public there is either the stress of trying to make this one absorbing enough to sell more, or the weight of expectation that it will do as well as the first. And as for the story itself – now there is another book already ‘out there’, so everyone can compare the writer’s storytelling qualities – and make a judgement as to whether they are excelling or stalling. Coming from a publishing background, I was incredibly aware of the dreaded second novel syndrome. I found I sometimes needed to give myself a talking-to so I could shake off the worry of that and lose myself in the story.  But although working on Beneath the Shadows was demanding, it was an extremely valuable experience. It taught me to find ways of coping with expectation and continue writing for myself. And, when I finally finished, it gave me the immense satisfaction that I could respond to these new pressures and still deliver a story. So I am grateful for the challenges and the lessons (and even the deadline that drove me crazy now and again!). When Beneath the Shadows is released in early 2011, you can all judge for yourselves how well I did. Meanwhile, I’ll be on my next learning curve – getting to grips with book three!