Writing my final Walker novel is...painful at times. It feels big and unwieldy: like a big-headed baby just learning how to walk that I'm running behind ready to catch. Okay, bad simile. See? It's robbing me of basic brain function. It's probably more like a belligerent teenager shooting me the bird. I think, on some level, I'm sad to let go of them, so I want to see all of them riding off into their individual sunsets in the best possible way. I'm agonizing over the details. I don't want the final volume to be the weakest link.
So when I get stressed, I remind myself why, overall, writing a series of novels is so rewarding:
1) No stubbed-toe endings. Instead of tying up very loose ends too quickly and too unbelievably, some conflicts can stretch between books the same way they would stretch across years in real life.
2) Continuity. I - we - get to revisit characters. Original characters become the supporting players for new characters, and the family, and the fictional world, builds.
3) This is my favorite: Growth. There are certain situations and challenges that just don't arise in the first few weeks of acquaintance. There are emotions that can't be evoked too quickly. Arriving at important life stages with characters has to happen over time, and a series provides an opportunity for that. It gives me the chance to write snippets like these:
Somehow, Jo had always thought growing up would feel like becoming a whole new person. But it didn’t. It felt like first day jitters and letting go of childhood hopes and the warm squeeze of her heart as she listened to the boy who’d taught her how to skateboard singing their daughter the Allman Brothers.
For a wondrous golden second, they basked in the afterglow, not caring that it was four in the afternoon and they were naked in front of the windows. “I missed you,” Ellie whispered right against his ear. “Don’t ever think that I wasn’t missing you like crazy all that time.”
I'm still hoping for a March release date, but we'll see. I know Keep You has been seen as a young adult or new adult novel, but Fix You - Jessica's story - is a whole other beast entirely. That's another thing about series - they evolve.