Obviously everyone and their mother has been in touch about the ending of book five, so I thought I’d share with you the story of how that ending evolved.
The interesting thing is that Tempest’s Fury wasn’t supposed to end that way.
Instead, I’d had a neat, pat ending that would have resolved everything. In the original version, book five ended with everyone alive and well and the person who became the White was the person everyone expected.
And that was how the outline read until the very second I sat down to write it. I read over my outline and started writing along with it, just like I always do.
But then my brain said, “Nope, that’s not how this book ends.”
I said, “Yes it is. It’s right there! In your outline!”
Fortunately, the brain wasn’t having it. “That ending sucks. Can’t you see that?”
“It does not suck! It’s awesome! And it wraps everything up!”
And that was the problem, as my brain proceeded to reveal to me. That ending did wrap everything up. It was entirely expected, and exactly what “should” happen. There were, however, two problems with ending a book with what “should” happen:
1) It was boring.
2) It left me up shit creek for book six.
Basically my plan for book six went something like this:
- Figure some shit out.
- Battle some shit.
- Jane wins.
And that’s all I had. When I would actually devote some brain power to figuring out what the shit was they’d figure out and/or battle, I really couldn’t come up with much. I’d tell myself I wasn’t writing the book yet, that such details would come when I started focusing.
But sitting there, about to write an ending that was all neat and clean, I realized that the problem I’d set up with that “neat” ending was one of stakes. There were none.
Indeed, the reason I couldn’t figure out what would go down is because I hadn’t set myself up for anything to go down. At least not anything that really mattered. It’d be another book in which Jane figured stuff out with the help of her friends.
Book six, however, couldn’t be just another book, because it was the last book. Since the beginning, when I wrote six columns to plan a six book arc for this series, I knew Jane had to start the series one way, and end it another way. She had to be a true hero by book six.
All of which made it obvious what had to happen. Jane had to face book six alone, without the people who had become her crutches. Only then could Jane become whom she is, my very Nietzschean desire for our little halfling.
After I realized this, I denied it. I said to myself, “That’s ridiculous. You can’t do that to everyone. It’s too intense. People hate cliffhangers. They like nice, easy books that don’t hurt.” So I went back to my original outline and I started writing.
Again, the writing sucked. But I persevered, and wrote another few hundred words before I finally gave up. Keep in mind that all of this was happening while I was in London, staying in my little flat in Bloomsbury that I love so much. I can’t remember exactly, but I think my friend had gone back to York a few days before to tend to his cat, although he definitely returned that day. But I know I was alone when I realized all of this. So, naturally, I thought I had lost my fucking mind. I kept getting up and cleaning things, as I do when I’m distressed, saying to myself, “This would change everything! It’s huge! You’d give everyone a heart attack and you’d totally destroy book six!”
Then, somewhere between scrubbing the toilet and snaking the drain, I realized that the ending I was envisioning didn’t ruin book six, it gave me book six. Suddenly, I had stakes. Suddenly, I had a way for Jane to demonstrate how much she’s grown and just what she’s capable of. Knocking away her crutches was going to hurt, but it was necessary.
Not that I didn’t still think I was crazy. So I called my agent, spending massive amounts of money to be told I was not, indeed, insane. And as I told her my new idea, it all made perfect sense. I suddenly had the ending–the ending that had to be, the ending that gave me a springboard from which to write an amazing book six.
And book six, if I say so myself, is amazing. We see Jane become herself, using her own, special strengths in ways that defy all the powers that be and that make her a true champion.
Coming into her own could not have happened if I hadn’t ended book five the way I did. My friend returned that afternoon to find me a babbling mess as I told him I was changing everything. He nodded sagely, then nipped out to the comic shops because I may have been gibbering and he was giving me time to write. Then he returned early, and kept trying to talk to me as I finished that ending. I threatened to eviscerate him, and he shut up. Then I wrote and wrote and maybe cried and then I knew I had an amazing book.
A book that might not be easy, and might not be wrapped up in a neat little package. But I can show just what Jane is made of in book six, Tempest Reborn.
I think you’re going to like our evolved, independent Jane. I know I do.
And now, our wiener! First of all, I can’t even begin to count how many times I cried reading all your GORGEOUS comments about Jane and the series. I am a weeper, to begin with, but you guys are seriously THE most amazing fans a girl could have. Jane feels loved, I feel loved, and she and I love you guys right back. I wish I could give ALL of you a present, but authors don’t make that much money anymore. 😉 So without further ado, the completely randomly chosen wiener is:
Yey Tenaya! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your choice of five massmarket paperbacks and your address and I’ll have them Amazoned to you!