Mom and I were commiserating yesterday about the fact that she had finished a book called A Fall of Marigolds, by Susan Meissner. We've read several of her books, and they are always great reads, with vivid characters. I read Marigolds first, and passed it along to Mom. Meissner researches her books carefully, but it's her character development that really shines. I plan to read all her books, eventually.
Mom was saying how bereft she felt to be ending the book. This is how you know you are in the grip of an excellent writer. You mentally move in with the characters and their world becomes your world. In the best books, there is an emotional investment, and you may lose sleep or read during lunch, desperate to find out what happens next.
When Michael and finished reading the Harry Potter series of books we both felt sad. Michael cried. He was really upset that we wouldn't be reading about Harry, Hermione, and Ron and their adventures every night. I felt bad for him, but I also felt a bit excited because I knew that J.K. Rowling had transformed a boy who didn't like to read into one who loved to read. What a gift, to be able to do that for children and adults.
Books have long been my salvation when life seems too much of a grind. In my early days working as a paralegal in Knoxville I would walk down to the downtown library [which was 2 blocks from the building where I worked] once every week or two, on my lunch hour or after work, and peruse every single volume on the New Books shelf. It got to where I knew every book [of interest to me] on the shelves, and I knew all the rental videos, too.
I remember quite well when the book Outlander was released in 1992. It's about a nurse in 1945 who accidentally travels back in time to 18th century Scotland and falls in love and has adventures. The book was listed as a Romance novel, which made me pause. I quit reading Romance Novels when I was about 19 because even then I thought they were usually silly, but Outlander seemed different - more of a supernatural/adventure book with historical underpinnings. I took it home on a Friday night and read all weekend. By Sunday I was ready for the next book in the series.
Years later I heard Diana Gabaldon speak at a luncheon for romance writers and she explained that after she wrote the book, her agent had asked her to define the correct genre, for marketing purposes, and she got upset. It's not really a romance book, although the central story includes a lot of romance between Claire and Jamie. She said to her agent, it's much more than just a romance - there's time travel, adventure, history. He pointed out that Romance readers are very loyal and she would sell more copies by marketing it that way, and she reluctantly agreed. It was about 1997 when I heard her speak, and the books were already huge bestsellers. Now, of course there is a whole series, and a TV series on Starz.
I have been a writer for years but only recently have I been really working on creating fictional stories and books. I wrote a book last year but it needs a lot of work, so I am working on some short stories before I plunge into revising the book. I bit off more than I could chew, with the book, and I need to hone my skills at pruning a plot.
I spent a fair amount of time yesterday finishing a new short story. As a writer, I am reluctant to let go of my characters, I find. I don't want to put them away. I want them to live and breathe, because I take great care in trying to paint them vividly for the reader, so they do seem like real people, not just characters on paper.
In a way, I actually hope this story ending grief gets worse, because I think then I will have become a much better writer.
What books have made you cry, or at least made you upset when you finished them? Drop me a comment and let me know.