On June 20th of this year I released Gingerbread Wolves, the fourth novel in my series, The Book Of Lost Doors.
Some time after I released it I realized that it was also the last book in the series. I hadn’t planned it that way. I don’t really plan anything in my work, I just kind of let it happen.
I was expecting, in fact, to have at least two more novels, and I had some ideas for what was going to happen in each of them.
However, once I had some time and distance to look at the series as a whole, it became obvious to me that the story that I had set out to tell was over. Again, I hadn’t planned it out in advance, but the events in Gingerbread Wolves completed the overall story arc.
While it wasn’t always obvious, even to me, there is a definite three act structure to the series–Catskinner’s Book is act one, Cannibal Hearts and The Worms Of Heaven are the second act (with the midpoint coming at the end of Cannibal) and Gingerbread Wolves is the third act.
The ending of Gingerbread Wolves is the ending.
“Life must go on, I forget just why.” I must have known on some level when I lifted that line from Edna St. Vincent Millay’s poem “Lament” that I was saying goodbye to James and Catskinner and Agony and the world that they had lived in and saved at such great cost.
And now, damnit, I’m grieving. I spent four years of my life with James and even though the breakup is amiable, I am going to miss him. He’s going to leave a hole in my heart and no matter what I do from here on out, nothing will ever quite replace what he means to me.
I’ve been listening to the series on audiobook and I’m in the middle of the last one now. It’s strengthened my resolve that it is over and we can’t go back, but it makes me wish that we could.
I’m scared. I’m scared that I’ll never be able to write like this again, that the spark is gone and I’ll spend the rest of career trying to recapture something that is gone. I’m scared to move on, to try to find a new voice and new characters.
But I know that I can’t stay here. I’ve seen that happen to too many other authors, unwilling to give up something that is dead and dragging a corpse behind them for book after book. I don’t want to write Friday The Thirteenth Part Six. I need to let James leave the stage when he’s ready, to take a Greyhound bus to some town where no one knows him and fade away into well-deserved obscurity. Send me a postcard sometime, kid, let me know how you and Catskinner are doing.
And me? Well, I’m going to work on stories for a while. Nothing serious, just play the field. I’ve done some good pieces since Gingerbread, and I’ll probably crank out a few more before I start another novel project. I need some space.
Life must go on, I forget just why.