(And now I have only about a thousand questions, some of which are from earlier but are more pressing now that someone has tried to KILL Kes & Sid in their own (brand new) home. For starters, why on earth is Kes a target?
Some of us have a gift for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. And what she does for a living has perhaps a slight focusing-the-sun’s-rays-through-a-magnifying-glass effect. Since I don’t think I’d react well to dead guys in the front hall either, I’m happy to say that the influence my career has had on my life has been a trifle more subtle.*
And why NOW, when she’s moved to a new place?
She was married to a Tech Master. Tech has a dampening effect on guys with swords from other dimensions. Now she’s OUT THERE ALL BY HERSELF.**
If she’d stayed in NYC, would mysterious armed men have broken into the penthouse?
Probably not. All that tech would have confused them. They would have burst through their dimensional gateway and found themselves chasing reindeer in Lapland.
If any of you have a sudden influx of guys with swords you might want to ask Blogmom what she’d charge you to camp in her back garden for a few weeks till they’re all safely misdirected to Lapland. Those reindeer can really take care of themselves.
And who’s Bossy Voice and how did he manage to show up in the nick of time?)
Well you’ve now read the next instalment so you know who Bossy Voice is . . . sort of. Hee hee hee hee hee.
—I can’t wait to find out who the owner of the “strangely familiar voice” is! I suspect that the person has already appeared to Kes in Normal Townsperson incarnation and I’m very curious.
—OK, I had just assumed it was Mr. Watermelon Shoulders from parts 49-50?
—Watermelon Shoulders was my guess as well, but I’d like proof. Plus, him being WS doesn’t rule out him also being Caedmon or something/someone else as well, right?
Nope. It doesn’t. Hee hee hee hee, con’t.
[Forgive me, copying from the forum and pasting into Word is fraught with translation difficulties. Those descending box things for people to carry on a conversation don’t transfer AT ALL and trying to attach who said what to whom is a freller. You can always go look it up, right? I’m just giving you the context for me to hang an unhelpful, hellgoddessy comment on.]
Well, Ron Driscoll’s got to enter back into this story one way or the other… although I can’t necessarily picture him switching into ‘ye olde speake’ just because we’ve morphed realities…
::grovels and throws dust over her head:: Speaking of other dimensions, I’m afraid poor Ron has got lost in one. When I started KES I was planning on taking it less seriously than it has decided to take me*** and asked Black Bear before I ever got properly going with it if she’d play with me and do her gamesmaster thing to spur me on. And then KES ran away with me.†
I’m still hoping Ron might have a look-in during the post-immediate-climactic mop-up, so to speak, in a you-don’t-think-this-is-over-do-you louring and suggestive manner. Black Bear and I have discussed the possibility of parallel KES stories for the future which makes the best sense to me—like Peter and me finally getting at least two of our joint elemental spirits books out by the simple expedient of writing separate stories.†† But it’ll mostly depend on Black Bear’s patience. I’m not . . . a wonderful person to work with. Sigh.
BUT I WANT TO MEET RON’S DOG.
Pre-emptive “create your own” comment in preparation for tomorrow’s forum outage. †††
Dramatic consequence of reading post:________
A. I can’t breathe!!!
B. How am I supposed to sleep tonight???
C. My heart nearly stopped!!! I’m going to need a pacemaker!!!
A. You evil woman, you!!!
B. Why do you TORTURE us like this!!!!!
C. Evil, horrible hellgoddess!!!
Delighted response to ________’s action, or sympathy for the same character’s predicament.
C. The hob
D. Mr. Watermelon Shoulders
A. Can’t you PRETTY PLEASE post another episode tomorrow?
B. Where’s my time machine???
C. How are we supposed to wait a WHOLE WEEK after that cliffhanger???
This had me so falling down laughing you’ll have to forgive me (again) for hanging it in its scintillating entirety out here on the blog. I do have an excuse, because I know that some of my friends who only read the blog to keep an eye on me never penetrate into the depths of the forum and it would be a pity if they—and any of the rest of you—missed it.
I’ll also just add here that while forum members don’t rank in the millions or anything, if I posted a birthday KES for every forum member who had a birthday . . . I WOULD BE VERY BUSY WRITING KES.‡
|Pre-emptive “create your own” comment in preparation for tomorrow’s forum outage.
‘It can be seen that with this prose the forum member ‘Blondviolinist’ has made a significant and insightful contribution to the forum reading experience, adding to the dynamic expressivity created by forum members engaged with the weekly posting of KES’
‘And causing the top of the hellgoddess’ head to disengage with the rest of her skull just long enough for her to recall in VIVID DETAIL why she bailed on the academic life the moment she escaped her undergrad college with her BA in her teeth and plunged into a sordid life of genre fiction.’
“Lady Kestrel.” Sounds suitably heroic, doesn’t it?
Yes. Poor Kes.
But will all that blood just disappear at dawn the way things just appeared after dark?
No. Next question.
. . . is anyone else tempted to pour five quarts of viscous fluid onto the floor to see how much it is?
I thought about it, then thought about how much I don’t want to clean that. Should have been a visual aid in middle school science class though. Imagine the angry notes parents could have sent!
All of this. I was just thinking about it again yesterday when I bled about a pint all over the landscape from a glancing blow with a tiny pointy wire end near the cuticle of my left forefinger. BLOOD. Really a very little lot of it is a lot lot. Also, in quantity, it pongs.‡‡ And if you’ve ever cleaned up after critter birth, I know it’s not the same stuff‡‡‡, and it’s full of smelly hormones, but it contains blood, and it’s thick and icky and slithery and . . . and that’s even in a good cause, you know? Birth.
I’m feeling really anxious about Kes’s books, too. I want to help her move them out of the way.
YES. THIS. Although this is also an example of the occasional weirdness of doing a serial in tiny chunks like this.§ This ep originally did not have Kes worrying about her books—worrying about her books originally came in the next ep. But I realised that all you book fetishists out there would be freaked out—I would be freaked out in your position: it would be the first thing I thought of—so I figured I’d better register the question immediately. As to what happens, well . . .
Well, if you’ve ever accidentally dropped an entire gallon of milk on the floor…. (Not that I would ever have done such a thing, and a gallon is one quart too few.)
I thought about that, but milk doesn’t coagulate, and I’m enough of a nerd that I would want the fluid to have that feature.
Yes. Viscous. Your word for it the first time. The meniscus, if that’s still what you call it on blood, is a lot more, um, turgid. And the thought of it—this thick wave of the stuff much taller than thin milk can achieve—spreading out and spreading out till it starts getting all crusty at the edges. . . . ewwwwwww. . . . .
Loved Watermelon Shoulders wiping his sword on the dead guy (he would, of course)
Oh good. That’s what I thought. And an awful lot of successful fiction writing (say I, dangerously giving away trade secrets) is declaring, okay, you’re an ordinary person in this situation, WHAT ARE YOU THINKING AND FEELING? And doing. And if you’re a swordsperson with a bloody sword, especially if you’re a polite swordsperson in someone’s house, you need to (a) wipe your sword (b) wipe it on something the householder won’t mind you wiping it on. But I yield to your greater knowledge of hand to hand combat. So I’m glad you think so too.
and knowing the name of Kes’s sword…though if he knows her, why wouldn’t he?
Well, you’re never sure about these cross-dimensional bozos. They often have surprising lapses in their info.
Am thinking “Would I be worrying about the blood getting on my books…or my air mattress and blankets? Because bloodstained books are one thing, but sleeping under bloodstained blankets–not that Kes is going to sleep anytime soon, I can tell (I think I can tell. Maybe)–is not going to be pleasant for her at all.
Unless the floor lists in the wrong direction—and I will put in a special petition that it doesn’t—the bedding is okay. The dead guy is in the front hall, not the kitchen, and Caedmon’s niche is off the kitchen.
But you’re right that sleep isn’t coming up in Kes’ schedule any time soon. . . .
* * *
* Mostly. So far. There’s still time for everything to go dimensionally skew-whiff. And most of my friends thought Peter had kidnapped me.
** Except for Sid.
*** There’s going to be a dead guy and a large yucky pool of blood, okay? And Kes has a sword with a name. Are you taking notes carefully? Are we making ourselves clear?
† I have a very long history of failing to collaborate. Peter could tell you about the last twenty-two years. But I can remember starting to illustrate [sic] the story a friend wrote about a mare and her foal when we were both nine, and my deciding that the story would go better like this and my friend taking exception.
I just didn’t think, to begin with, that KES was quite, um, real and therefore at such high risk of my Anti-Collaboration Gremlin.
†† Even if some of them have had the distressing habit of morphing into novels, trilogies, etc.
††† WHICH DIDN’T HAPPEN BECAUSE BLOGMOM IS A STAR. HIP, HIP, HOOOORAY. HIP, HIP, HOOOORAY. HIP, HIP, HOOOOOOOOORAY!!!!!!!!
‡ Hey. Stop that. You do want me to finish PEGS II and III, don’t you? And hellcritters would pine if we never went hurtling any more.
‡‡ Aside from other bodily functions that may occur involuntarily as a result of sudden death.
‡‡‡ Does human blood smell any better or worse than other mammalian sanguineous fluid? Discuss.
§ And no I’m NOT going to make them any longer. See previous footnote †††.
Do you dream Middle Earth, Robin, or is that just Kes? (If you’re willing to tell, of course.)
Yes. Absolutely. I was probably ‘dreaming’ the Shire before I got to the end of chapter one and it went with me when I went to bed. I read LOTR for the first time at eleven, like Kes, and it immediately altered the entire shape and extent and bias and EVERYTHING of my mind and imagination.* It was like adding dye to your rinse water: suddenly all your white shirts are hot pink. And will never be white again.** And you become a different person, wearing pink shirts, when you used to wear white. I really can’t exaggerate the effect reading LOTR had on me. And I’m a very visual person, both awake and asleep.
Middle Earth is so irretrievably and inextricably mixed up with my mind and heart and life and memories that I can’t always be sure what is dream and what is memory—or what is dream-memory of Middle Earth. You dream something enough and you develop a kind of belief in it: I think before a year ago last September it was also my Dante and my Milton. A lot of its landscape is as familiar as anything I’ve seen when I’m awake, and it’s mostly fairly consistent. Also I’ve been dreaming it for fifty years. [Note: eeep.] By sheer accumulation it’s a lot realer than some of my so-called real-life stuff. And I’d much rather spend time there, even when there are Balrogs involved, than—oh—sitting in endlessly stalled traffic breathing exhaust and missing your appointment or discovering that your favourite dress in the universe has moth holes.
About questions I won’t answer: when I used to talk to school groups a lot I used to tell them I’d answer almost anything but what I had for breakfast and what colour my typewriter was.*** The idea being that there are no stupid questions although there are a few irrelevant ones.† I can usually put a spin on the ones that I consider to be invading my privacy;†† people have different ideas about where the lines are, and I don’t have a tattoo on my forehead that says PRIVACY FETISHIST. A lot of mistakes are genuine: even a hellgoddess knows this.
And I’ve relatively rarely been heckled. It’s happened a few times, and very unpleasant it is—and I’ve also, a few times, had classrooms that were out to get me, but every one of those without exception I saw coming by the relationship of the kids with their teacher—but I don’t (much) write the kind of edgy, controversial, in your face stuff that attracts aggressive or splintery personalities.††† My problem more often was the warm fuzzy patroniser: the perfect stranger who would walk straight up to me (around a podium or signing table at a publisher’s booth as necessary), give me a hug, and tell me what a sweet little story BEAUTY is. ARRRRRGH.
One additional reason why I am the snarling hellgoddess you see before you today is because of all those people warping me when I was a tender young author. ‡
* * *
* This effect may have been exaggerated by the fact that it was happening in Japan. I’ve told you this before of course. My US Navy father was stationed there—this is the early sixties, less than twenty years after the end of WWII—and we lived on a ‘dependents’ base in a Tokyo suburb. You don’t get a lot more alienated from your surroundings and apparent reality than being an immediately-identifiable kid belonging to the military-occupation gang, surrounded by a people and a culture who don’t want you there—and where by the shape of your eyes and the colour of your hair don’t belong. Going native is only a limited option: you can’t just go over the wall, borrow some clothes and hang out. Japan itself looked very strange to me but—and I’ve told you this before too, but it’s also one of the major influences on my life and my storytelling so on a blog that only exists because I write books for a living it’s worth repeating—when I got back to America it looked strange and—alien. Home was no longer home.
And I missed Japan, where I didn’t belong and never learnt to speak the language. Speaking of dreaming: I’ve dreamed of Japan all my life since we left too, and I guarantee it has as much to do with reality as the Shire does to the Worcestershire of Tolkien’s childhood.^
Lots of writers and other artistic types feel like rejects, oddballs, exiles and outcasts for one reason or another, and I was a dweeby, awkward kid and would have found my dork status quickly enough even if I’d been born and grown up in the same town and graduated from high school with the same class I’d started kindergarten with. But I got to have the whole creative-doodah-stands-apart-from-society made manifest by being a Navy brat. As the saying goes, if Tolkien hadn’t existed I’d’ve had to make him up. I’m very glad I didn’t have to make him up. I wouldn’t have done nearly such a good job.^^
^ My dreams of Middle Earth are, of course, dead accurate.
^^ Although there would have been more WOMEN.+
+ How frelling convenient is it that dwarf women are never seen? And that there aren’t very many of them, and to outsiders they look just like the blokes? Why didn’t Tolkien invent cloning and get it over with? Or maybe they slam a couple of gems together and SHAZAAM!, new (male) dwarf?
** Which is a good thing. White is a nightmare to keep white.^ Although I have no idea why I would necessarily think of this image in terms of hot pink.
^ At least if you spend a lot of time in the company of garden plants and hairy hellcritters. And chocolate.
*** It’s been a very long time since I did a lot of school groups.
† I was also lucky. No one ever asked me anything like ‘Have you ever had sex with a giant tortoise?’ That one is perhaps easy^. But I also pretty much escaped any of those questions where the discernable pause before I said ‘no’ might have been suggestive.
†† Where do you live?
††† Mostly. I have referred occasionally to the fact that a few of my letters and emails are real snorters. And it’s funny not-ha-ha what some people think is edgy and controversial and in your face.
‡ This is also one of the reasons I’m a bit testy about a certain attitude toward my first novel. I know, I know, long-time blog readers have heard this all before. The people who love BEAUTY because it’s sweet and who therefore (inevitably) think all the rest of my books are less sweet like this is a failing, FRELL ME OFF. I know, I know, it’s just another demonstration of the ‘if you do something once successfully DO IT AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN.’ This works pretty well with kicking footballs and making brownies. IT DOESN’T WORK WITH STORY-TELLING. NOT REAL STORY-TELLING.^
^ And please don’t remind me that some of those purveyors of the same frelling story, yea verily unto the ninety-sixth volume, are wealthy and I am not. You win some and you lose some.
I really need a night off.* So I thought I’d leave you with two Exciting Announcements and a few links.**
Peter’s IN THE PALACE OF THE KHANS has been nominated for the Carnegie long list:
And just in case you haven’t already bought your copy, here’s a reminder:
The ‘buy now’ takes you to amazon.uk but amazon.com and Barnes and Noble have it as well.
And SHADOWS is coming out in the UK:
EBook 5 December
Paperback 2 January
The cover will look pretty much the same and the blurby stuff has been rewritten but it’s still about Maggie and some very peculiar shadows. It should be available for pre-order by now.**
And if you wish to be encouraged, possibly inspired, but not to say hectored, pleeeeease read this:
* * *
* You know there are several people out there who have offered guest posts and then disappeared. . . . Just thought this might be worth mentioning.
** You’ll have to look the link up yourselves. I don’t go near the Robin McKinley pages on amazon.
*** Or if you want to be reminded of my back catalogue you can read this:
I’m so glad it’s short Wednesday, I’m so tired I am in grave danger of falling off my chair.*
Also, I am in shock. Which is very tiring.
***MY BANK APOLOGISED.***
FURTHER TRUMPET FLOURISHES. IN FACT AN ENTIRE CONCERTO, INVOLVING SEVERAL ORGANS WITH FIFTY THOUSAND PIPES EACH AND A FEW OF THOSE HUGE JAPANESE TAIKO DRUMS THAT FEEL LIKE YOU’RE BEING PUNCHED IN THE CHEST WHEN SOMEONE THUMPS THEM.
It’s taken my bank nearly four months and they’ve still got both my name and my address wrong BUT NEVER MIND. THEY APOLOGISED. They’ve REFUNDED the substantial number and £££ of fines they charged me and have sent me copies of all the letters they wrote to all the people whose cheques bounced—including scary, credit-rating-ruining people like my credit card companies—saying it was THEIR FAULT. NOT MINE. THEIRS. THE BANK’S. THE BANK’S FAULT.
Good news. I can USE some good news.*** And I can continue to contemplate the goodness of this news tomorrow during the three and a half hours I am due to be in dentist from R’lyeh’s torture . . . I mean, chair. † I think you had better expect tomorrow night’s blog to be short too.††
* * *
* It was a bell-ringing night, one of those nights when there were only six of us so all of us had to ring all evening. You know retired people may still have some BRAIN left by the end of the day. . . .
Also my beloved Celtic-knotwork-pattern-cover cushion is going—has gone—to pieces. There is no security in this insecure world where things wear out. I am sure I am much unsteadier in my chair in the mews kitchen with my chair cushion in SHREDS,^ whether or not I just spent an hour and a half on the end of a bell-rope.^^ And I’m totally failing to get my head around replacing it. There are gazillions of cushions out there.
^ It disintegrated all by itself, with no help from hellterrors whatsoever.
^^ One of the other ringers, whom I would have said I had never met before, stared at me for a minute and said, I know you. I rang a wedding with you at Ditherington last year. You’re the knitter.
** Pity they can’t make an itsy-bitsy further error, move the decimal place over six or seven or eight places to the right and make me wealthy.^ Then I could not only keep Third House I could build a conservatory off the sitting-room.^^ I suppose, having noticed one error, they might notice this one too. No, wait . . . I pointed their previous error out. I had to point it out. Hmm.
^ And for those helpful people telling me if I’d only write this or that book/sequel I’d immediately become wealthy . . . in the first place *&^%$£”!!!!!! and the frelling horse you frelling rode in on. In theory this blog nonsense—and the Twitter nonsense, and the Facebook nonsense, and the public email address nonsense—is so that public people can have some direct contact with their private readers/fans/supporters. And vice versa. Which seems to me to be mostly a good idea: we’re all human beings first and last. But shouldn’t there be some FAINT responsibility in that vice versa-ing, for paying attention? Which is to say HOW MANY RATBLASTED TIMES DO I HAVE TO SAY I ONLY WRITE WHAT I AM GIVEN TO WRITE? I’D BE ON SUNSHINE SEVENTEEN AND DAMAR THIRTY-TWO BY NOW IF I COULD.
And in the second place . . . SUNSHINE and Damar didn’t make me wealthy the first time. There’s no reason to think that a second or a third or twenty-seventh book would do any better. Remember that for every GAME OF THRONES there are 1,000,000,000 series that only did well enough to bully the poor sweating author to keep trying.
. . . an autographed book sale? I’m sure that the hell-hounds and -terror would cooperate to place ‘official’ pawprints.
Sure. The minute I finish the last frelling doodle from the now-ancient-history Bell Fund. Siiiiiiigh. . . .
^^ Have I mentioned that one of the knock-on effects of letting Third House is that I won’t have the little summerhouse as a greenhouse this winter? I have therefore, with Atlas’ aid, brought the grow-light to the cottage and hung it from one of the big ceiling beams in the already-small sitting room, and in cold weather we will have to have handbells at Niall’s because my sitting room will be full of PLANTS.
*** There are way too many alligators in my immediate vicinity. As the saying goes.
† On Halloween.
†† And apropos of nothing at all, any of you folk on this side of the Atlantic have experience with Lovefilm vs. Netflix?
Yesterday was a black hole, by the way*, but I’m better today. I think.
Oh, yes, the “Are you published?” after you’ve said that’s what you do. Even after you say how many novels you’ve written (since occasionally that comes first) and you know perfectly well that no one (I think no one in history but I could be wrong) writes over 20 novels just for the heck of it. It’s work. It takes time. It takes time away from other things in life that a writer might want to do. I wrote one monster . . .when I wasn’t published, but chances are very, very high that if the thing had not been published, I would now be much better at knitting, singing, gardening, riding, and the house wouldn’t look like it does…and it would have been my only novel. . . . .(Of course I’d have gone mad. Madder than I am. But I don’t think I’d have sat down to write just about a book a year without deadlines and checks. Also, we’d now be very broke.)
Yes. And that’s the other thing: if you can’t earn a living by writing, then trust funds and/or wealthy spouses aside, you’re going to have to earn it some other way. Now earning a living is a major time suck. It’s just that if you’re doing it for love, you can manage to ignore the forty cents/shilling thruppenny per hour you’re ultimately getting paid, so long as you can keep eating.
Not being a blog follower when PEG came out, but still having visited the website enough to know that sequels were definitely not the hell goddess’ thing, I came to the end of the book . . . I tried my hardest to reason with myself . . . if this was where the story ended, then this is the story that needed to be told and I should look inside it to find the meaning, and I came up with all these beautiful ideas about friendship and perseverance and had completed the grief process up to acceptance… Then discovered the sequel tantalizers online.
::falls down laughing:: Sorry. It’s friendly laughter. Still . . . ::falls down laughing some more::
There certainly could be a story about how Sylvi and Ebon, Marked for Life by Their Tragic Separation, went on to do Great Things Alone. That’s just not the one I’m writing.
Er, this Peg II crashing to a halt business is a little frightening. I’m glad it was past tense and I feel like I’ve heard positive things about it lately? Hmmm.
PEG II crashed and burned because I was refusing to recognise that it needed to be two books. Two more books, making a [YAAAAAAARRRGGH] trilogy. So the pacing, the story arc, the way everything fit together, was totally bodged and gleepy in the original PEG II. This was scaring me quite a lot, as you may imagine. I still don’t know whether it was just I had my head down so far I couldn’t see the forest for the trees or if I really was suffering a total mental block about the idea of a [twitch] trilogy [twitch]. Anyway. By the time I finally figured it out, or let myself figure it out, I had the morale of club moss or a dead octopus or something. I could not face starting over from the beginning right away. Meanwhile—remember that benchmark about eating?—I had to keep eating. So I wrote SHADOWS.
I admit PEG II and I are still not the best of friends. There’s an awful lot of I Have Been Here Before, But Not in a Good Way. But we’re getting there.
I really like the family dynamics in your work- I get rather sick and tired of lowly orphan/foundling hero/heroines- is that just fantasy writer quick hand of being able to send them off questing without too many obstacles??? I think I’m going to do a short story on the peeved mother who gets left behind on the farm who suddenly has to do all the chores and swears at that mysterious old stranger who has gotten little Timmy all excited about saving the world.
Thank you. Yes. I agree. Orphans are fine, but there are a lot of families out there.** And families are interesting. I’ve been thinking about that story about the left-behind mum too. And the other three children, the herd of goats and the ill-tempered pony. And the cabbages. And the mortgage payments. Feel free to write it first. All good stories can be retold indefinitely.
As an avid fantasy reader one thing that bugs me IS sequels that are done just for sequels sake. Singletons are lovely.
Singletons are different. They feel different, they read differently, they hold together differently. It’s not just that they’re perforce shorter, although that’s the obvious thing. It would be a gigantic pity if The Serial Mind totally took over. But I want to put in a word of defense of writers writing less-than-great sequels. Some of them . . . are just writing less-than-great sequels. It happens. But some of them have been told that either they’re writing a series or that there’s a rumour that Wal-Mart is hiring. Remember the need to keep eating. I’m lucky: I’ve been around a long time as a writer of singletons and most people are mostly used to it. I’ve been haunted by sequels all my working life but when I wrote SWORD and HERO while series were desirable they weren’t yet a stick that your public and your publisher beat you with.***
…. I think I’ll stick to quilt pattern designs. Hmmm. A pegasus would look great.
A pegasus would look great. But if it’s a McKinley pegasus remember they are NOT horses with wings.
Thank you for the glimpses into your mind and life that you provide in the blog. I’ve become a compulsive blog reader in the last year or two. It’s not only what you write but the way you write that draws me irresistibly. Thank you!
You’re very welcome and thank you. And I want to say out here on the blog that generally speaking I try not to copy and paste the really nice compliments because it makes me look like such a prat. But I read them with ENORMOUS PLEASURE. Just sayin’.
We shall make t-shirts that say “FRELL YOUR FRELLING SEQUEL” and wear them around.
I’m beginning to think I should officially look into the t-shirt thing as an author who needs to keep eating while she [re]writes her next [frelling] novel. There’s also the footnote t-shirt. Maybe there should be a PEGASI ARE NOT HORSES WITH WINGS t-shirt too.
What I love is books that continue around the edges of them. They are so much more ‘real’ than books where the author finishes everything off.
YES. EXACTLY. As a reader I way prefer books where it’s not all tied up with a big shiny ribbon at the end. The big-shiny-ribbon conclusion tends to kill it dead, for me, and send retroactive gangrenous ripples back through the book that I had perhaps been enjoying—or at least successfully suspending my disbelief for—till then.
. . . I sometimes approach sequels with an attitude of “oh, so these poor characters — don’t they just get to live, well, not happily-ever-after necessarily, but out of the spotlight maybe? With no more than what the rest of us typically have to deal with, at least?” Whereas if they’ve landed in a sequel again it’s because something Very Exciting has happened.
Snork. As a fairly dedicated stay-at-home myself†, who relishes her hot baths, pillows and blankets, and mains-electric reading lights, as well as a writer (mostly) of singletons, I like your attitude.
. . . why, a good 60% of the time is the next sentence out of someone’s mouth Oh, are you published?
AND this one…
Oh, I’ve always wanted to write – everyone tells me I should write a book about (blah blah blah) …
SOOOOO, my question is always: Do you like to read? To which, invariably, the reply from alleged aspiring writer is: ohhhh noooo – I hate to read!
‘Invariably’? You poor thing. You need to find a better class of pub/gym/chat room/alternate reality to hang out in. The aspirers who talk to me usually do love to read—and seem to think this means they’ll be natural writers. Cough. Cough. And it’s a beginning, of course—it’s even a good beginning, being a reader: it’s just not enough.††
* * *
* What a good thing it was already a Saturday! Or I might have been forced to hang a KES ep out of order!
** Harry has a brother! Okay, she’s an orphan, but she has a BROTHER! Also, I was younger then, and it was harder to keep account of too many important characters. Trying to hold everyone straight in HERO was a steep learning curve. If someone had told me then I was on track to write a book with PEG’s cast of characters I might be a manager of graveyard-shift supermarket shelf restockers by now.^
^ This is the Mysterious Disappearing Footnote from the other night, for anyone who was confused by the forum exchange about it.
*** There’s a similar sort of defense to be made about orphan protagonists. I’m sure there are some out there that were created orphans for no better reason than that the author wanted to get on with the story . . . but that’s not actually a bad reason either. What starts to get on my nerves is if there’s a huge doodah about the protagonist’s orphaned or otherwise tragedified state when it isn’t, as I-the-cranky-reader sees it, earned.
† Bell ringing is VERY EXCITING! I rang a HARVEST FESTIVAL today!
†† And the awful truth is that there are a few good writers out there who are not great readers. I Will Name No Names, but I know a few of them. Arrrrgh. It’s like the comforting truth that it takes time to write really well. No. Wrong. It takes some of us a very long time to write anything worth reading. Not all of us. Arrrrrgh. On the whole I’m willing to leave the non-readers in peace because I pity them for what they’re missing. THE FAST WRITERS I WANT SHIPPED TO ANOTHER GALAXY. NOW.