The other day, I finished book 8 in a series of books I’ve been reading by Karen Marie Moning. Now, I thought I’d finished this series three books back and a few years ago. But low and behold, there was more to the story.
This isn’t the first book 8 of a series I’ve read. I also recently completed reading My Own Heart’s Blood, book 8 of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series. Each book is about 850 pages and should come with its own little red wagon to make transport easier on the back. But after 25 years of writing well-researched historical fiction spanning countries, wars, and decades, there seems to still be more to Claire & Jamie’s story.
Now, as many of my regular blog readers know, I love books. I am passionate about reading. But, I have to admit that I’m getting pretty weary of the series thing. I find myself seeking a one hit wonder. Hard to find these days. Authors create ongoing story lines for their characters and their faithful readers want to know the rest of the story …
There was a time when One Book actually told a complete story. Mansfield Park covered Fanny Price. No need for a book 2. Dickens fit A Christmas Carol, including extensive visits with three ghosts, glimpses of past days and time travel into one book, ending with the redemption of one Ebenezer Scrooge.
More and more though, writers create multiple book “stories.” Perhaps there’s an arch like Hunger Games and the Discover of Witches series. Or the characters have continuing adventures, like Kathy Reichs’ Temperance Brennan or Deanna Raybourne’s Lady Julia. Or, somebody years after the initial publication decides to write a sequel, like Scarlett for Gone With The Wind and Mrs. de Winter (*not recommended) for Rebecca. Don’t even get me started on the number of Pride & Prejudice spin offs about Elizabeth, Darcy, their kids and zombie encounters. One wonders what Jane Austen would have to say about that.
Even fairy tales have their “continuing adventures.” And they lived Happily Ever After is not necessarily the end of the story anymore, as Sondheim’s Into the Woods and the numerous recent Disney film sequels years after original air date and additional stories illustrate.
See, there is always more to the story. When you complete reading that final paragraph, you wonder what happens next. Good fictional characters become friends that you care for. You want them to find happiness in their unwritten continuing story. You wonder.
It’s so like … life. When you say goodbye to someone whose played a role in your story — however it’s said be it at an airport for a few days apart, a move to a place not nearby, or perhaps a more final farewell as someone you’ve cared for embarks for places or a life separate from yours — you still wonder what happens next in their story. You are still invested because their story brushed up with yours for a time. And you still find moments to ponder what remains unwritten and if a sequel might perhaps be composed — or even in the works — in the days, weeks or even years in the future.
When your child goes off to college, their story spins off and a new tale begins. They may re-enter your story from time to time. But, they are truly in their own series now. Even as a younger child, you are separated from them by school or activities for hours at a time … they craft their own tale on their own.
And with each person you encounter on your adventure — no matter how well you “read” them — there is more going on than you can discern. More to the story …
See, writers figured out something we simple readers didn’t catch on to. A good character draws us in and keeps us coming back. We don’t want a good story to end. So, sequels sell.
People, like characters in books, come in and out of our lives. They touch our souls in ways we can’t define at times. They change us. They make us smile and laugh and bring us to tears. They affect us. They are part of our story. But no matter how well we know them or what role they play in our story, they have their own arch going on. And there is just more happening behind their eyes and in their thoughts that we just don’t know. There’s a subtext we don’t have access to. And even our deepest curiosity and desire may not fathom all that is happening from our vantage point reading their pages.
They branch off. They weave back into our tale. Only the Great Writer truly knows the “rest of the story.” We are just part of a larger tale, glimpsing short stories on our continuing adventure into parts unknown.
So I will keep reading about Mac & Jerricho Barrons and about Claire and Jamie … and the numerous other characters I develop relationships with in our written encounters. They have taught me, in their continuing sagas, that there is always More the Story. That “The End” is never really an end. It’s just a conclusion to my peak into their world. And the subtext I interpret on the written page and in the characters of my own story is never fully known … not when applied to real life.
There is always More to the Story. An arch yet to cover. An adventure yet to experience. Challenges, losses, joys and so much more. And though it may take time to be written, Book 9 is only a blinking cursor and publication date away.