I’ve just discovered that my books have seasons.
Adiós, Accent, and Stars are all summer books. Not only does their action primarily take place over the course of a summer, I wrote them all during summer months. I also lived in Florida when I wrote all three, which is the Land of Perpetual Summer, but that’s besides the point.
Now I’ve got a couple new stories I’m toying with, a YA and an adult, and they’re both what I’d call “winter” books in terms of the time period during which their action is taking place. Admittedly, I started working on the YA during the late summer, but I’ve done the most work on it in the last month or so.
I never really gave it much thought, but when I set my books has a real effect on its overall tone. The “summer” books, even though they can have some serious underpinnings tend to have an overall lightness and definitely happy-ish endings. The winter books are darker, more somber, the pace and tone of the language a little slower—to use musical terms, adagio (slow and stately) versus allegretto (moderately fast). Maybe most telling, the endings, while they’ll still be hopeful, aren’t going to be of the obviously happy variety. There are too many variables involved for there to be a simple solution but it will be a satisfying one.
And that’s how I like it. Not only as a reader, but as a writer. My endings don’t have to be tied up in happy, sparkly bows. I’m not the reader who’s going to fling a book against the wall if the characters aren’t riding off into the sunset together. One of my favorite book endings ever is from Anne Rivers Siddons’ HEARTBREAK HOTEL.
There’s a line on the last page– it’s not the final line, but it’s the most telling line of the ending: “Lucidity that trembled on the edge of something radiant that could not be looked at, yet.”
There. Right there, the reader has all the answer they need. You know she’s broken through the boundaries that have been holding her hostage throughout the majority of the book and that while she’s not quite ready to face the future breaking free promises, you know there’s something ahead. Something better than what she’d ever allowed herself to imagine. That she even knew she was permitted to imagine. Of course, the reader knows this because of how masterfully Siddons crafted the story leading up to that last scene.
And that’s enough for me as a reader. Yes, I have questions and oh, my heavens, what I wouldn’t give to poke Siddons’ mind to find out what future she envisioned for Maggie, the lead character, but the story she told in that book was complete to my way of thinking.
But, I digress. This is what happens when I haven’t blogged regularly in yonks. Sorry about that. Guess I just haven’t had much to say, even when being attacked by book pirates as an “odious woman.” (Yes, that really happened, no, I’m not going to link because what’s the point?)
Anyhow, I’m finding it kind of surprising that I’ve not written a true “winter” book before now. I guess it’s because outside of the occasional surprisingly cold temperatures, I hadn’t lived anywhere with winter for over seven years. There’s no denying, though that fall and winter are definitely my time—when I perk up and start moving faster as the temperatures drop and the days grow shorter. Unlike so many others, I’m comforted by that early blanket of darkness and I find it gives me a greater appreciation for spring and summer when they roll around.
Regardless, I’m enjoying the evolution of my “winter” books and looking forward to seeing where they take me. Already, I’m exploring styles I’ve not ever considered before, so that’s another new experience.