How many times have you, as a reader, mourned the end of a favorite long-running series? It’s hard to say good-bye to characters we’ve come to know over the years. As best-selling author Kate Douglas explains, it can be even harder on the author.
On Ending a Series…
It doesn’t kill the characters, but it can be hell on authors.
On June 28, the final book in my long-running Kensington Aphrodisia series, WOLF TALES, will release. The title is Wolf Tales 12, but it’s actually the twenty-first story in the series when you add up all the novellas in the one Wild Nights and eight Sexy Beast anthologies. I’ve lived with many of these characters since 2004 when I wrote the first story in my new serial for Changeling Press. Kensington contracted the first six short novellas in 2005, combined five of them into the first Wolf Tales and the sixth became the opening for the first novella, Chanku Rising. The first Wolf Tales launched the new Aphrodisia line when it officially released in January 2006, and featured Alexandria Olanet, Stefan Aragat, Oliver (no last name at the time) Keisha Rialto, and Anton Cheval. The final page of the final book will come full circle, returning once again to Anton, but so many things have happened to those characters of mine over the years that writing that final scene was like writing an obituary for a beloved family member.
Except Anton is fine, and I’m the one dealing with depression. I hear from so many readers who have grown attached to the various characters they’ve met between the pages—not only in my books but in so many others where long-running series feature many of the same characters in story after story. They tell me how sad it is, to read the final book and know that may be the last time they read about new adventures for their favorites.
You think it’s hard for you? Try writing a final scene for someone you’ve essentially lived with for years.
Trust me—it ain’t easy. I got so caught up in the telling of Wolf Tales 12 that for the period of time when I was actually writing it, and discovering answers to so many questions my readers had posed, I didn’t really think about writing that final scene. My editor had asked me for a bigger book, which left me free to explore a lot of different things I hadn’t thought I’d have room for, and I really got caught up in the story. So many things happen—there’s a new character I hadn’t seen coming, and things happen that I really wasn’t expecting, but that’s the fun stuff. Writing for those of us who don’t really plot is all about the discovery—sitting down and channeling a character and letting them tell their story.
Well, my characters ran me ragged in this last book. The minute I’d think something was tied into a neat little package, something else would happen, or another voice would start nagging me and I’d end up switching gears. But finally, I got to the very end, and I didn’t know how to finish it. The original ending I’d envisioned happens about half way through the book, so that messed me up, and then some other stuff happened that wasn’t even on my radar, and that took the story in a whole new direction, with new problems to solve and new issues to deal with, but finally I knew it was time.
And I knew, that of all the characters I’d gotten to know, of all the ones I’d climbed inside of for this amazing ride, it would have to be Anton Cheval who brought down the final curtain. He’s been my constant companion throughout the series—he wasn’t the star originally. No, that was Stefan Aragat. I really thought that Stefan and Xandi were going to be the ones in charge, but Anton does not share the spotlight well at all. He barged in long before I expected to even add another character, when Stefan and Xandi went to him in the first book to ask him to remove the curse that left Stef caught half-way between human and wolf.
Only it wasn’t a curse at all, as those of you who’ve read the stories know. It was Stefan’s inability to complete his shift because he’d not had enough of the nutrients, but Anton’s vicious sexual attack, one that Stefan finally admits he wanted, changed the entire course of the series. That wasn’t planned, but it brought Anton front and center while setting the dynamics for all the sexual relationships to come. Once Anton had the stage, he refused to relinquish his spot.
Thank goodness. When I look back at the series, Anton is the muscle and brains, but his mate, Keisha, is the heart and the glue that holds the pack together. Between the two of them, with Stefan and Xandi’s support, with Adam and Oliver, Mik, AJ, Luc, Ulrich, Tinker, Jake and Baylor, and yes, Igmutaka and all the others, I have a feeling the pack will continue.
I am working on a series about the children and I still have hopes of finding a home for it somewhere. I really have to tell their stories, and the first one, of course, will be Lily’s. She’s one of the stars of Wolf Tales 12, as is a seriously disabled woman named Sunny Daye. In fact, everyone from the entire series shows up in the final book, and since it takes place five years after Wolf Tales 11, you’ll get to meet a lot of the newest members of the pack. Think about it—with all that sex, you’re going to get a lot of babies!
I do hope you enjoy this final book. I finished writing it almost a year ago and yet I still find myself thinking of Anton and the others as if they’re old friends I haven’t seen for a while. Which makes me wonder—who are some of the characters in books that have stuck with you? I can think of dozens, and I really want to hear about the ones you’ve kept close.
Do you read a lot of series books? How do you feel when the series comes to an end?
Join us on Wednesday, June 22 when Samhain Publishing’s Managing Editor Lindsey Faber talks about the differences in epublishing and traditional publishing from a publisher’s standpoint.
Some people know what they’re meant to write. Kate Douglas was not one of them. She started out writing commercials for a country western radio station in 1972, wrote and illustrated an educational cartoon strip for a number of years, was a newspaper reporter for a small town weekly, and then, in the mid-1980s, decided to write her first romance.
Many submissions and rejections followed, but she’s proof perseverance pays off.
Kate currently has twenty-two novels and twenty novellas and short stories published or due for release. She is working on her new Aphrodisia series, Dream Catchers, as well as a short digital-only series, Demon Lovers. The first story, Unbalanced, released (ebook only) on June 15.
Kate and her husband of almost forty years have two adult children and five grandchildren, with number six on the way. They live in the beautiful mountains of Lake County, California, north of the Napa Valley wine country.
www.katedouglas.com and www.katedouglas.com/eroticromance for full chapter excerpts of all of Kate’s books.
You can find Kate on Facebook at www.facebook.com/katedouglas.authorpage or on Twitter @wolftales
Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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