Letting go of people you love is difficult, um, er, that should say characters you love, yes, they’re not really people, right? No. Of course not. Sheesh.
Only some days they certainly seem so. No really, the last 30 years of my life have been devoted – from 25% to 150% of the time – to a cast of characters I dreamed up and then wrote about in an epic story called Guardians of the Word.
And then I published those stories and discovered that other people felt the same way. They love these characters. They got into their heads, Became part of their lives, part of the story, invested time, money and energy into how they would turn out, which is of course, is something I can sympathies with completely. They love Dynan. They ADORE Dain. They like everyone else and care what sort of problems they could have, even off the page.
I once asked my readers as I neared the completion of the last book, what do you most want to see for the ending, and by far the biggest response I got was don’t leave anyone hanging. People wanted to know how it turned out for all the characters, and so I tried to do that to the best of my ability, but found it surprising how attached folks had come to not just the main characters, but everyone. (You can substitute I for they throughout, ok.)
So letting go of them as a writer has been a bit of a struggle, though I’m less and less preoccupied by that world as I slowly but steadily move into another. It has been harder than I thought it would be to stop thinking about. For the longest time, most of my energies were devoted to thinking up ways to make the story better, what complication can I add into their lives. Who is going to live through this? Who isn’t? And then it was finished, the last word – the end – typed and the book published.
It was weird not having to think up new and different ways to torture these people, or fix their problems, or add a bit of this or take away that word for another one. Decidedly an odd sensation.
I’ve had a couple of people say to me that they hate that the series is finished, but they love the ending, so I know I’m not alone in this odd dichotomy I exist in.
Getting into the next story, finding my way into the next world I will inhabit for who knows how long is like trying on gloves. In some places the fingers can’t move freely enough, or the tips are too long and floppy. They’re too small or they are too large. I’m like the bear in Goldilocks, looking for something that fits just right.
A month later, I think I’ve found it. There is a sense of a supremely fitted sleeve, a supple leather that glides on and wants to stay. It’s still slightly on the fringe, this thing I’m trying to weave, out of reach and not in complete focus. I’m outlining the plot of another book(s). I really wanted to write just one book, not part of a series for a change, a one off, so to speak, but clearly that’s just not how I do things. One of my readers said, of course it’s going to be more than one book with such certainty I had to stop fighting it and agree.
Tentatively, meaning the name may change, the next book(s) will be called Aiden’s War. Book title or series title, Aiden Quell is a nice young man, a good son, a brother to many and like so many of us, is trying to find his way in the world, one that is fraught with peril because he has to go do something heroic – or just plain stupid, depending on your point of view. He is aces with a bow, and he loves a pretty girl he’d do anything for, which is the main thing that gets him into trouble. He and his companions will fight and win, and fight and lose, and learn how to run away when they have to, and hopefully they will prevail. He will encounter great beauty and great danger. He will meet things that make him question everything he knows to be true, and grow and learn. I think you’ll like him as you come to know him. I am warming up to him.