March of the Sequels: Ben Green
BEN GREEN has always been a storyteller. When he was a kid, he would tear apart his coloring books and assemble them into crossover stories with lots of drama and lots of glue. Then he discovered action figures and took to burning Cobra agents at the stake and writing whole episodes of Star Trek the Next Generation. As a teen, he wrote Star Wars fanfiction and began creating his own worlds on a Brother word processor with a tiny screen and floppy disks. Meaning he’s also very old.
Though he grew up in Arizona and Nevada, Ben now lives in southern Minnesota where he puts his degrees in teaching, history, and technology to use as a social studies teacher for non-traditional students. He is passionate about teen issues and at-risk youth. This may be why he spends so much time with his four children, telling stories, working in the garden, and encouraging them to find something to be passionate about.
First of all, tell me a little about your series and introduce us to the sequel(s).
RIMDUUM answers the question: What if there were modern dwarfs living under the Rocky Mountains? Or at least that’s where it started. Kind of a reply to all the fantasy authors modernizing elves and fae for urban fantasies. Think underground kingdoms, advanced metalwork infused with magical craftsmanship! Oh, and there are dungeons filled with puzzles and danger.
The main character, Clayson (young adult), is drawn out of his solitary life, when a few dangerous people come looking for his father. Now they’re on the run because his father knows the location of a deadly metal called mithrium. His mother, the queen—who has magically forgotten him—is also on trial for treason.
So book one, Forged in the Fallout, deals with Clayson exploring this new world and wrestling with his place in it. Book two, In Shadows of Silver, increases the stakes when a terrorist attack strikes and Clayson falls under suspicion of the Keeper’s Council. At the same time, while he tries to uncover who was behind the attack, he starts to fall for the girl who is supposed to be investigating him. Oh, and some big crazy plot twists at the end and a cliffhanger that hurts. Wraiths and Raiders is the final installment, and the stakes couldn’t be higher! This world under the Rockies is on the brink of complete destruction. Clayson and his friends must wrestle with the Big Bad, solve a few critical mysteries, and avoid getting caught by the Big Bad’s darksmiths who are on the hunt, one of which has an old grudge against a main character.
Do you find that most of your readers continue to read the whole series? Why do you think that is?
Absolutely! RIMDUUM is fandom ready. I find that people who discover it stick with it. If your book tastes include something epic and genre-bending with heart, you’ve found the right place. A lot of readers say the world is wondrous and the characters are easy to connect with.
How difficult is it to add new characters in a sequel into already established relationships?
I added a love interest in book two and a new antagonist in book three. Both turned out perfectly. Jeiahlir (the love interest) has quickly become a fan favorite. She’s so investigative and rational, so it makes a great counterpoint to my fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants main character. I think it works to add only one new character and make them essential to the plot. And the new antagonist in book three is extremely hateable. It helps to kill other characters off so you have room though... wait, I mean... nothing to see here. Just an author doing his job.
Is it difficult to continue with worldbuilding for a world you have already built in book 1? Do you find it easier to switch locations for the sequel and start again with worldbuilding?
I love creating new places in the world of RIMDUUM. I give every setting the full treatment. What makes it tick? Who inhabits this place? What conflict exists within? I love revisiting a redundant setting, but seeing it with new eyes. There are so many more places and stories to tell within RIMDUUM. I’m literally making a table-top role-playing game so that I can keep expanding it.
Have you ever been stymied by a worldbuilding or plot detail from book 1 that is very inconvenient to deal with or write your way around in subsequent books?
Yep. I’ve painted myself into a number of corners that I’ve had to spend time working to get out of. However, limitations breed creativity. So, in my opinion that’s not a bad thing. You do have to watch for moments where things are getting convoluted. If a solution makes something more complicated, it's not a solution. Usually, a good solution to a problem pulls its weight and fixes 2-3 other character/plot issues at the same time. Hopefully, that makes sense.
Would you say your craft has improved with the subsequent books?
Generally, yes. Though I worked really hard on my writing (looking at you three other finished manuscripts buried in my closet) to get to the point of no return. I’m excited to enter my post-first trilogy phase. Before I start my next project in earnest, I will be doing a thorough review of my strengths and weaknesses. To do that, I’m looking back at the comments from my editing team all the way back to book one. I’ll be taking notes and then trying to build myself up where I’m lacking, but also, leaning into skills I already have.
Do you have all the timelines planned for the full series?
Yes. Book three, Wraiths and Raiders, will conclude the series. It’s available for pre-order everywhere with a March 21st release date. But there’s still room for more short stories and perhaps, in the future, another series altogether.
Do you have any marketing tips for sequels?
What is this marketing you speak of? Kidding. I think it's hard to directly market a sequel. The best move you’ve got is dropping book one to free or $0.99 for the weekend here and there. Newsletter promotions can help with that? Make sure it's easy for readers to find a link to book two in the back of book one. Really, a complete series only sells as well as the first book. You’ve got to land that book and hit marketing hard for that one.