When I was sixteen I was given a book written by a writer I had never heard of. He was already a fairly successful author, this wasn't his first book by any means, but to me he was brand new. Since then, I will say, he has become wildly successful and has millions of books in print in more languages than I knew existed.
But this isn't about him.
This isn't even about the book but, bear with me, I have to talk you about the book to get to what this is about.
The book grabbed me from the first few pages and everything else in my life fell to the wayside. I didn't want to eat or sleep and God forbid anyone attempt to engage me in conversation. They were met with a bothered glare and an irritated sigh. I was at the mercy of the pages I held in my hands and was loving it. The main character, regardless of the constant peril he seemed to be in, was someone I would have wanted to have for a neighbor. He was a cool guy who was easy going and quick with a joke despite all the trouble he was in and I could picture hanging out with him, firing up the grill and enjoying the simple ease of a warm summer day.
The book had me fully vested in his well being. My heart jumped when his did, I could feel his frustration and anguish as the odds continued to stack against him. I wanted nothing more than to see him overcome his current, dire situation and I could not put the book down until I was sure he did.
The last 50 pages were a blur of nervous excitement. I would not have put that book down if the mother ship landed in my backyard and little blue men offered to take me away and show me the secrets of the universe. The final page turned. The last word was read. I closed the book and stared at the cover. The feeling that consumed me at that moment was as unexpected as so many of the story's plot twists.
I was disappointed.
I didn't like the ending.
I felt SCREWED! Not just for myself but also for the main character I had come to like so much.
I immediately grabbed a pen and some loose paper and started to write the ending as it should have been. At that point in my life I had never written anything other than a few sub par essays in English class but let me tell you, I could write a better ending than that!
After a few hours, a cramped hand and a basket full of crumpled up nonsense, I came to the conclusion that writing is a whole Hell of a lot harder than I imagined. On top of that, I realised that I loved every frustrating minute I spent trying to re-write the ending to the book I enjoyed so much.
Fast forward some years and countless other books, I once again found that book in my hands and decided to go for the ride once again. This time, though, I found that I liked the ending even though I had spent every page leading up to it knowing, in the back of my mind, that I was going to hate the ending.
But the ending was good. It worked. I was exactly what it needed to be. It ended the story how the story was meant to end.
So what had changed?
Certainly not the book. Then, by process of elimination, it must be me.
Then it came to me. Back when I had read it for the first time it wasn't the ending that I was disappointed in, it was that the book ended.What I felt that day I had first read that book was a good-bye to a friend I wasn't quite ready to make yet. Even now, many years later, I still think about that book and that character and I hope, for his sake, his life has calmed down a little and he has found some peace.
So, I'm sure by now you are asking yourself- If this isn't about that book, then what is all THIS about?
Excellent question, and thank you for your patience.
That book was the first one that never left me. And that, to answer your question, is what this is all about for me.I want to offer people characters that they never want to say good-bye to and antagonists that will haunt them for years to come because when it's all said and done, whether you love them or hate them, are afraid of them or afraid for them, if they make you laugh, cry or scream in frustration, I hope you find here characters that stay with you long after the final page is turned.