I have the unique opportunity to be the first stop on the 2nd leg of the “In the Red” blog tour with Selah Janel. Let me start off by saying that not only is Selah one of my best friends but she’s also a fantastic writer with more creative ideas in her little toe than in my entire leg. Well.. at least to the knee. On today’s stop, she’ll be telling us about writing the perfect ending. And I can tell you, kittens, In the Red has one of the best endings I’ve ever read…..
Endings are funny things. Just when you think you’ve got everything wrapped up, just when you think you have a fabulous, punch-in-the-stomach ending that will have everyone on the edge of their seats and talking…things change.
I’ve kept mostly mum about the second half of In the Red on purpose. I don’t want to give everything away, after all! It’s more than that, though. In some ways the second half of the book is also based around a postscript to the fairy tale The Red Shoes, depending on the version you read. Like the first half, it definitely is more urban fantasy in style and takes it’s time. It’s the part of the book where I really began to realize just how much I liked my character Jeremiah Kensington, and just how much I could relate to him in some ways.
Ever since the plot was a short story, it was my instinct and intention to end it at the height of the action, where the first part of the book ends. I was all for it up until my first round of edits…and I just couldn’t do it. I’m not sure how it exactly happened, but I suddenly, instinctively knew that there was much more to Jeremiah, and much more to the story.
This was a very hard and very long section to write. Not only did I keep thinking up ideas, but they kept shifting, and it took a long while for me to make sense of everything. It also required a lot of research into places I was unfamiliar with. I think people forget that it isn’t just about the research – you still have to find a way to make sense of it all, relate it to your plot and characters, and make it make sense for the situation…otherwise it’s just showing off how many facts you’ve been able to find out. You have to relate it in a way that accents the story instead of overshadows it. Thankfully, I was able to tap into the more emotional side of things, because I also had an unholy fear of getting something wrong or out of context. Most of the time my life became a mix of work and writing, and even when I was away from my computer I was going over everything in my head repeatedly, trying to get things to make sense.
Jeremiah comes to grip with a lot in the second half of the book. Not only does he have to realize that his life is changed forever, but there are some very serious consequences to making a deal that seems too easy, especially when it’s with a dark force. He has to face up to his addictions, his desperate need for fame, and his use of the red boots as a crutch – a crutch that has dire consequences that he only realizes way too late in the game. It’s interesting to me that sometimes when we realize something is bad for us, we still depend on it. We still want it. We still long for it, and lash out at those that have our best interests at heart. I’ve done it at certain hard points in my life, and revisiting my own behavior and reactions was not an easy process, though I’d like to think that it made Jeremiah’s actions a little more believable. He starts out as a selfish person, he’s enabled to become an extremely selfish person, and now he suddenly has to decide whether he’s going to break or try to move forward.
It’s a hard fact of life that sometimes you’re dropped to your knees. Sometimes you have to face the music, so to speak, or at least deal with repercussions to actions you never thought would lead to any bad results. Sometimes it’s an accident, sometimes it’s something stupid, but sometimes, sometimes you have to take a deep breath and realize that you’ve had moments where you’ve acted truly horrible. Jeremiah definitely has to deal with that, and at the same time he has to figure out what exactly is his reality, and what isn’t…or are all the strange things he’s seeing really withdrawal or is there more to his business deal than meets the eye? He has to learn that not everybody is going to like him or even want to understand him, but there are people who are in his corner, though they aren’t the people he initially wants there. He also has to learn that there are things that are harder to face than “evil” or “darkness.” At the end of the day, even if a person survives those encounters, they’ve still got to look in the mirror and decide how they feel about what they see there.
I also had a really tough decision to make with the ending…how much did I wrap up? Should I give it a clean, button-type epilogue that ties everything up in a nice and tidy bow? Do I answer every single question that people have? Do I make sure to overly explain it all so there’s no doubt as to what’s going on?
I did think long and hard about that one. I even asked some friends and people who just plain liked to read what their feelings were. Interestingly, their opinions were very similar to mine. There is no neat ending to a situation like this. There’s no reason to have a tidy little vignette where we see how everyone ends up and where they are in ten years or more. Life isn’t like that, and with everything Jeremiah goes through in the book, I couldn’t honestly say that life would be easy for him even a year down the line. People don’t have “they lived happily ever afters.” That’s unrealistic, and honestly I find it insulting to the readers. People do their best. They move forward. They stumble. They get stuck. They get out again. Sure, I have an idea of where Jeremiah ends up, but I didn’t feel that it was necessary to give that away. Instead, I wanted to leave it hopefully vague, in the spirit of the fairy tale that inspired me. I want people to have some sort of idea of where things are going, but do they honestly need to know the definitive ending? Do they need to know if he continues on the same path, makes a lot of money, or falters, regrets his decisions, or any of the rest of it? In this case, no. At the end point of the book, even Jeremiah isn’t looking that far ahead, so I think it’s unreasonable for everyone else to try to. Instead, I hope that people appreciate his journey, his battles, and his growth and become of fond of him as I have.
Alright, here’s the deal– Selah’s giving away a pdf copy of In the Red. If you want to enter, just comment on this post with a question for Selah… and don’t forget an email addy so you can get your prize! If you aren’t comfy with putting your email on the post, just find me on Facebook (Alexandra Christian) and drop me a message! Coming up later this week– MY review of In the Red and a new trailer for the book…
Selah Janel has been blessed with a giant imagination since she was little and convinced that fairies lived in the nearby state park or vampires hid in the abandoned barns outside of town. Her appreciation for a good story was enhanced by a love of reading, the many talented storytellers that surrounded her, and a healthy curiosity for everything. A talent for warping everything she learned didn’t hurt, either. She gravitates to writing fantasy and horror, but can be convinced to pursue any genre if the idea is good enough. Often her stories feature the unknown creeping into the “real” world and she loves to find the magical in the mundane.
She has four e-books with No Boundaries Press, including the historical vampire story ‘Mooner’ and the contemporary short ‘The Other Man’. Her work has also been included in ‘The MacGuffin’, ‘The Realm Beyond’, ‘Stories for Children Magazine’, and the upcoming Wicked East Press anthology ‘Bedtime Stories for Girls’. She likes her music to rock, her vampires lethal, her fairies to play mind games, and her princesses to hold their own.
More about In the Red:
Live like a rock star. Dance ‘til you die. Are you in?
What kind of a rock star lives in a small town in the middle of nowhere and plays at weddings and funerals? That’s what Jeremiah Kensington is thinking after an unsuccessful bar gig one night. Then Jack Scratch comes into his life, ready to represent him and launch him to stardom. Jack can give him everything: a new band, a new name, a new life, a new look, and new boots…although they aren’t exactly new. They once belonged to The One, a rocker so legendary and so mysterious that it’s urban legend that he used black magic to gain success. But what does Jeremiah care about urban legend? And it’s probably just coincidence that the shoes make him dance better than anyone, even if it doesn’t always feel like he’s controlling his movements. It’s no big deal that he plunges into a world of excess and decadence as soon as he puts the shoes on his feet, right?
But what happens when they refuse to come off?
You can harass Selah around the web at these locales:
Fandom Scene Column – http://www.fandomfestblog.com/blogs/selah-janel
Facebook Author Page – http://www.facebook.com/authorSJ
Facebook Book Page – http://www.facebook.com/intherednovel
Twitter – http://www.twitter.com/SelahJanel