A sequel to Aquarium was always going to involve the protagonist’s life having been uprooted and overturned. The question was, how much did I want to allow it to go wrong?
Spoilers for Aquarium and Thanksgiving below.
The answer: a fair amount. Tommy can break up with the protagonist (now going by the name Casey); Casey can break up with him; Tommy’s mother can air her suspicions and push a wedge between them. I had a few ideas initially about Casey getting arrested, but in the end settled on a more personal, feelings-based focus.
Thanksgiving took longer (started planning in spring 2014, first draft completed in April 2015 while I was pregnant, then revised significantly and released in November 2015) and went through more iterations than my earlier work – probably understandable given how much more complex and how many more characters are in it! I wanted Casey to feel overwhelmed by Tommy’s large and bustling family, so different to their own one, though this had the side-effect of making me feel a little overwhelmed too.
Initially there was more of a focus on making the family members like you, but this felt a little too calculating for poor Casey, so although that’s still tracked I shifted the importance to telling the right stories and remembering what Casey’s told certain people. Tommy and his mother care if Casey messes up; the others notice but it’s less important.
Writing a pre-existing relationship was a challenge, and very different to getting to know Sebastian in Aquarium. It’s much more about the Casey’s comfort zone, trust between them and lack thereof, and whether they want to open up to Tommy. I wanted to make a sense of intimacy by referencing Tommy’s familiarity with the protagonist but at the same time make that closeness feel claustrophobic.