ah, wednesday. i shall now indulge in an attempt to be all alliterative and call this a “writing wednesday” post. aren’t i clever? gack.
last tuesday was a red-letter day in the world of urban fantasy novels. not only did the new sookie stackhouse book come out, but another series that’s quickly gaining in popularity, the chicagoland vampires, had a debut as well (book 4). and good christ was it a doozy.
have you ever been just cruising along in a book, enjoying the increasing familiarity you have with the characters and the storyline, when BAM! a twist of epic proportions hits you smack in the stomach and you have to go back and re-read that section again, just to make sure you weren’t hallucinating? that’s what happened in hard bitten (why, oh why, chloe neill, do your books have such silly titles? especially since the books are so frickin’ awesome?)
the general reaction at work later in the week, after myself and a few of my like-minded coworkers had read it, was “i can’t believe she did that!” this gut punch was so big, it could quite possibly alienate a chunk of her readers. yes, when i say epic, i really mean Epic, with a capital “E”.
the last time i felt my stomach drop was toward the end of the likeness, and tana french did it so well, i almost skipped it. it was toward the end of the book, and it was one line buried in the middle of a paragraph toward the bottom of the page. granted, if you hadn’t read in the woods first, you might not have felt that it was that big a deal. but i re-read it probably four times, just to make sure my eyes weren’t playing tricks on me. then i wanted to bawl.
all this has made me realize that I WANT TO DO THAT TO SOMEONE. i want people to become as invested in my characters as i’ve become with neill’s chicagoland vampires, as i was with french’s cassie maddox. i want to yank the rug out from under you and shake your foundations so that you want to scream at me and curse my existence, and then grumble about having to wait to find out how i’m going to “fix this mess”.
quite a lofty goal for a reluctant writer, i know. and one that may really only be achieved through genre fiction. i read copious amounts of books, and not all of them are genre fiction. most of them are just straight up fiction. and as i sit here an think about the times that i was socked in the tummy, all i can remember are characters that i was already familiar with. merit. cassie. cannie shapiro of good in bed and certain girls. marley from marley and me. actually, that last one was more about the inevitable than something coming out of left field.
i have to say i’m not entirely pleased with the ending of vanishing. i know, i know, i’m the author. i can change it if i want to. i just might do that. the problem is the ending fits with the direction the story ended up taking, and i’d have to do more than just change the ending. as it stands now, frankie gets her happily-ever-after. sort of. i’m tempted to leave it that way because the story needs some levity. but with all the stomach-swooping that’s been happening, maybe, just maybe, i’ll do something completely different.