9 Sequels Written Decades After the Original Book

Today marks the release of Doctor Sleep, a new Stephen King novel that checks in with The Shining’s Danny Torrance several decades after his stay at the Overlook Hotel. It’s been 36 years since the original book was released in 1977, but such a time lapse between sequels isn’t as unusual as you might think. Here are nine other books that made fans wait decades to find out what happened next.

1. Psycho and Psycho II

Time between books: 23 years.
Why so long? Presumably, Robert Bloch was just busy writing other things. Extremely prolific with a typewriter, Bloch wrote fiction, non-fiction, short stories, magazine articles, movies and TV shows, and edited anthologies. Psycho II certainly wasn’t a novel celebrated by Hollywood the way that the first Psycho was. The sequel mocked splatter films, and according to Bloch, “The mere idea of criticizing their bloodbath tactics was abhorrent to them, and I was told they had no intention of doing a sequel to Psycho, let alone my story. But when advance notices of my novel generated publicity here and abroad, some resident genius suddenly had a great idea. 'Let's make Psycho II!' he cried, thus demonstrating both his creativity and his ability to count. Needless to say, I wasn't part of the time—nor was I invited to a screening.”

2. Heidi and Heidi Grows Up

Time between books: 58 years.
Why so long? Well, for one, original author Johanna Spyri died in 1901, 37 years before the sequel was written by her translator, Charles Tritten. (Spyri was Swiss.) Tritten explained that so many Heidi fans around the world wrote with questions about the fates of Heidi, Peter, and Grandfather that he felt compelled to continue their adventures. He also wrote a third story, Heidi’s Children, in 1939.

3. Dracula and Dracula the Un-dead

Time between books: 112 years.
Why so long? Because Stoker knew to leave well enough alone. It wasn’t until long after Stoker’s death—nearly a century later, in fact - that his estate allowed great-grandnephew Dacre Stoker to partner with direct-to-TV horror writer Ian Holt to write Dracula the Un-dead. The reviews are mixed, but all of them agree that if you come in expecting Stoker’s track-and-field coach great-grandnephew to have the same talent that Bram did, you’re going to be disappointed. If you’re just looking for a fun, spooky read, however, feel free to dig in.

4. Peter and Wendy and Peter Pan in Scarlet

Time between books: 95 years.
Why so long? Well, in 1929, J.M. Barrie famously left the rights to his Neverland empire to Great Ormand Street Hospital, a children’s hospital in London. To commemorate the original story’s centenary in 2004, the hospital held a contest inviting authors to send in sample chapters of a new Pan book. The winner would earn the right to write the official, estate-sanctioned sequel. The winner, of course, was Geraldine McCaughrean; her Peter Pan in Scarlet was released in 2006.

5. Rosemary’s Baby and Son of Rosemary

Time between books: 30 years.
Why so long? Ira Levin didn’t really say why it took so long to write a sequel, at least not in any interviews I can find. But like Robert Bloch, I suspect that Levin had plenty of other writing itches to scratch—from novels like The Stepford Wives to musicals and plays, his pen was never idle. I’m guessing he just didn’t feel the urge to return to those characters until later in his life. Fun fact: He dedicated Son of Rosemary to Mia Farrow.

6. The Witches of Eastwick and The Widows of Eastwick

Time between books: 24 years.
Why so long? Make no bones about it—John Updike knew exactly why he wrote the sequel: “Taking those women into old age would be a way of writing about old age, my old age,” he explained to New York Magazine in 2008. He gave the women “the physical oddities I notice in myself, the arthritic pains, the perennially imperfect teeth. I’ve been spared baldness, but in a strong hotel light, you suddenly see your awful head that you never had to look at before.”

7. Catch-22 and Closing Time

Time between books: 33 years.
Why so long? Heller thought of Closing Time as “summing up.” Though he specifically said the intent was to sum up, not sing a swan song, it did end up being his last novel.

8. Dandelion Wine and Farewell Summer

Time between books: 49 years.
Why so long? Farewell Summer was the last of Ray Bradbury’s novels released in his lifetime. Because this book and its predecessor were both based at least partially on Bradbury’s recollections of his childhood in Waukegan, Illinois, it’s easy to imagine that he was doing a little “summing up” of his own.

9. King Coal and The Coal War

Time between books: 59 years.
Why so long? The almost six-decade time span between books wasn’t Upton Sinclair’s fault. He submitted the sequel for publication in 1917, just three years after the publication of King Coal. Publishers found the sequel “insufficiently interesting” and declined to purchase it, proving that even celebrated authors aren’t immune from the cruel rejection of publishing houses. In 1976, nearly 60 years after the release of King Coal, the Colorado Associated University Press finally printed a few copies of the sequel.

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September 24, 2013 - 8:00pm
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