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Saturday, September 25, 2010

A Different End

Every author feels a sense of accomplishment when they type two words, "The End." Sometimes they experience relief and sometimes they're let down because the characters they've spent so much time with are now committed to paper and the story is over. Usually, they get over it quickly because the follow up to writing "The End" is edits and then release. There's no author that doesn't enjoy release day, the day we get to share this new work with all our readers.

But there's another kind of ending that some authors have to write and this one is a lot bigger and lot more emotional than the end of a book. The end of a series can have a serious emotional impact on an author and, in turn, on the readers. Recently, I read some of Kate Douglas' thoughts about the end of her popular series "Wolf Tales." Reading her emotional words made me start to think about the end of "Tales of the Darkworld."

On October 7, Sunstroked, Tales of the Darkworld Book 6 releases. This is the second of the M/M stories in this series. It is also a quietly intense romance, almost sweet despite the hot scenes and fiery sexual tension. To me, it also serves as notice that this series is drawing to a close.

Tales of the Darkworld started with two novellas about brothers and sisters. Two vampire siblings who own a cemetery in the Darkworld and two black dragon siblings, one who suffers from unrequited love and the other who feels cast out of her family. From Shifting Winds and Hot Water came the bigger picture of the Tales. Two families, three best friends, and a man with a mission to ensure that all his friends and relatives find their mates. Ten tales of love, lust, betrayal, pain, triumph, redemption, life, death, rebirth, sexuality, and friendship.

The series revolves around the machinations of three Machiavellian best friends, black dragon Sean Antaeus, vampire Marius Granville, and the man with a mission, magia Alfred Stone. Alfred's task is to ensure that his friends and family find their mates. However, the reason for Al's task isn't clear until Book 9 Rain of Tears, Al's own story. At that point, I'll close out the series with the story of the most dominant character across all of the books, black dragon Sean Antaeus.

The release of Sunstroked next month means I'm on the downslope of the series. Each book from this point on is less standalone. Each book will bring me closer to The End. And I'm not sure I'm ready to face that. Sure, I have other ideas and another series in my worlds planned. I know my publisher and editor is rubbing her hands together in anticipatory glee of receiving the next of my Five Dark Realms series. We've had long discussions and conversations about all my ideas for these worlds.

Even so, I feel the emotional pinch of ending the Tales and I know when it's time to write "The End" at the end of Force Majeure (Book 10 Sean's story) I will probably sit and have a long cry. It will be time for me to let go of the Antaeus dragons, the Granville vampires, the Stone magia, the McCallan werewolves, the wildling, and the demons. I'm sure it will be difficult for some of the series fans as well. Letting go of Holden and Garret, Colin and Eden, Emily and Vahid, Sean, Marius, Declan, Alfred, Careen, Corey, and all the others will be emotional at best for them too.

This series launched my career and it will be with profound sadness and a huge sense of accomplishment that I write the final book probably sometime late next year. Between now and then, as I write the last four books, I'll be working to showcase the series as a whole. With each of the last releases, I'll be talking about not just that story, but all of them. Because in the end, when I write "The End", I'll have given my readers one very big love story that encompasses more than just dragons, vampires, werewolves and demons but also includes the relationship between me... and them.

Happy reading!

10 comments:

Jackie Uhrmacher said...

I think it's noble that, even though you are emotionally invested, you're willing to end the series at a natural point. There's nothing worse than watching characters you love disintegrate into shadows of their former selves because the author dragged the series out.

I've been captivated by the Tales from day one. Not only are they amazing novels, but they brought me to your reader group and you. : )

Megan Rose said...

Wow, Lex. When you said it was an emotional blog, you were right. I think it's fantastic that you've shared these feelings with your readers. They can really see how much of yourself you have invested in the series and that can only be a good thing :)

Tina Donahue said...

Congrats on a wonderful series, Lex. We're looking forward to the next one you come up with. :)

Lex Valentine said...

Jackie - Thank you! Fans like you are what makes doing this so much fun! I know that nothing lasts forever so I had a clear cut path when I started this series. I've had some nudges since then about secondary characters I didn't plan books for, so I may a six and a half book so I can tell Alastair's story as a short...things like that. Not to drag out the series but to give better closure really.

Megan - All along this series has had some dedicated fans and I wouldn't be giving them their due by keeping to myself what the series means to me and what they mean to me. I think the relationship is one that's been beneficial to us all.

Tina - The next series is a bit darker. All HEAs of course, but a little darker in tone because the characters will be from the other realms.

Carolyn Rosewood said...

It's always difficult to leave your characters, and with a series I imagine it's that much more painful. Thanks for sharing this.

Jo Ramsey said...

I definitely know where you're coming from, Lex. When I finished the first draft of book 10 in my YA series Reality Shift, I cried. I didn't want to let Jonah and Shanna go. When I finished book 30 in my other YA series, I couldn't write for a week because I didn't know what to do without those characters.

Fortunately, now I get to revise all those novels :)

Your Tales of the Darkworld books have such real characters, they practically jump off the page, so I can definitely see how hard it will be for you to let go of them.

Kate Douglas said...

Lex--you have my sympathy. I wasn't really ready to end Wolf Tales, but about the time I started work on Wolf Tales 10, which, counting novellas, is actually the 19th story in the series, my editor asked me to consider winding the series to a close. She cited "reader fatigue," and the fact that a lengthy series stops gaining new readers who are intimidated by the sheer number of books.

That gave me two novels to tie up the loose ends of my series, and I have to admit, it was harder than I thought it would be, emotionally, but also more gratifying. By the time I got to WT12, things that had happened in earlier books suddenly began to make sense. It was as if I'd been writing with the ending in mind the entire time.

I will miss my Chanku shapeshifters--they're like real people to me. I hear their voices and worry about them, and I keep wondering what they will do when I'm no longer telling their stories. And no, I don't "think" I need a good therapist--it's jut that when we write a series, the only way to bring the stories to life for our readers is for them to live within us.

I wish you well as you bring your series full circles, and I hope both of us will find new characters who mean as much and who live and love as fully.

Katalina Leon said...

Wowee what an emotional blog... I have not published or ended a series yet and I'm already dreading it.
Lex, be proud of your accomplishment and persistence. You're doing so well.
It was a special treat to see Kate Douglas here! I love the Wolf Tales series and personally I'm not the least bit 'fatigued"
I wish both of you very talented ladies the best with whatever comes next.
XXOO Kat

Janice said...

Lex,

You will be sad to see if go, but at least you will be ending your series at a natural point. GFY.

Janice~

Lex Valentine said...

Carolyn - I think by the time I finish #10 I'll be ready. But it's going to take me the year to get used to the idea.

Jo - I know it will be awhile before you see the last of your series published. Hopefully by then you'll be ready.

Kate - Your words really resonated with me because I truly did understand how you felt about finishing and letting the characters go. It's true they live on in your head and you wonder how things really would turn out if you could follow them all to the ends of their lives. At least for us, we have some idea of how things would go for each couple, but I feel bad for the coterie of readers who want more.

Katalina - If you ever do a series you'll understand the feelings, but even as a reader I'm sure you get most of it. If you've followed Kate's series from the beginning I'm sure you know.

Janice - I did try to end the series in a natural stopping place. These stories were told out of order, in part to preserve the reasons for who was meddling and why. It's why Alfred's story is the ninth one and why Sean's story (which actually encompasses the entire series) is the last.

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