I’d be interested in your views on the concept of authors giving up on series without completing them. At the end of the day an artist’s work is their own and if they don’t want to write further books in a particular series they don’t have to (unless they are under contract to a publisher I guess).
However, fans often feel that they have somehow bought books on the basis of a misrepresentation by the author that they will get the “end of the story”.
The most obvious example of this is George RR Martin and his Game of Thrones books – which I very much doubt he’ll ever finish since he’s obviously lost interest and wants to write Wild Cards books instead.
I’m most interested in what your views are on whether an author should allow someone else to finish a series if they lose interest in it. I know the situation with Brandon Sanderson finishing off Wheel of Time was somewhat different in that Robert Jordan died – but would you ever consider allowing another author to finish off your work if you lost interest in something?Ruth
First things first: no bashing of any authors in the comments. Please feel free to express your disappointment with any unfinished series, but let’s keep it to series only. Any comments calling author lazy etc will be removed.
I hated the fourth Edge book. Hated. I was in a terrible place emotionally because one of the children had issues and writing a book about a healer was like torture. I cried a lot during that point, and I’m not a crier. To this day, when I have to reread passages from it, I get this gnawing sense of dread. There are many reasons why that was the final book, but my mental state was definitely one of them. So when we talk about final books in a series, we have to take into account the writer’s emotional state.
As an author, you know that your final book in the series will be hated. No matter how good it is, some readers will shred it. Everyone has preconceived notions about how the favorite series should end. Look at some of the reviews for STEEL’S EDGE, WILDFIRE or MAGIC TRIUMPHS. Readers are upset because we killed too many people, didn’t kill enough people, killed the wrong people… Fans are upset because the series ended. Haters are gleeful that the series has ended and can’t wait to tell you that they’ve read all of it, it always sucked, and now you finally ruined it. 😉
Writers are human. Most writers don’t want to just write a final book. We want to write the final book. We want to knock everyone’s socks off. Setting the bar that high can be paralyzing. Writing comes from the place of play. It’s enormously entertaining for the writer. There should be joy in it if it’s done right. But the weight of expectations and self-imposed pressure can make it into a soul-draining grind. Fortunately, the readers can’t tell when the book was difficult. I’ve seen all sorts of speculation about our mental state on various books and I promise you it’s usually laughably off the mark. But reader enjoyment doesn’t change the fact that writing the final book can be like pulling a load of bricks across a parking lot.
When it comes to George R. R. Martin, I think we can all agree that HBO ruined the finale of that series. There are hundred of thousands of fans who are now looking to him to “fix” it. That’s a ton of pressure for the man who by his own admission was never a fast writer. I don’t know him personally, so I won’t speculate about the reason for the delay. Perhaps writing Wild Cards meanwhile is keeping him sane. I know that I have to switch between series. If you ask me to write two Innkeeper novels in a row, I will hate it and probably give up.
As to your second question, about letting someone else finish our work, if something happened and I was physically unable to finish the series, then yes, I would want someone to write a conclusion. But if I was still of sound mind and body, no. That’s my work. They can get their own.
Most readers don’t care what difficulties and pressure the writer is facing and neither should they. If you are reading this, you’re in a somewhat unique position because if you ask me something, I will try my best to answer honestly, but most people don’t frequent writer blogs. As a reader, dealing with an unfinished series is extremely frustrating. I’ve been that reader. If you promise me a story and then don’t stick the landing, bitter butthurt will flow.
But as a writer, I would rather do the story justice and take my time than throw something out there just to be done.