Bittersweet Endings: What Happens to the Characters When You Finish Your Novel ?

After eight years, I’ve finally finished the third book in my trilogy. Because I like a challenge, I accidentally on purpose stuck writing another novel in the middle of what was already a long process – nevertheless, a first draft of Book 3 is safely tucked in a file folder on my desk, as I write this post. Now, as they say, comes the hard part: creating a second draft that is coherent enough to warrant the attention of my editor. Cassandra is a saint, but she deserves a well-written manuscript to sink her teeth into. 

Coming to the end of a novel is bittersweet. The main characters in the story – Olivia, WIliam, Josef, Elsa, Lily and Gabriel – have been living with me for a long time. So much of what I’ve seen has partially been viewed through their eyes. Every walk through Golden Gate Park – from the moss hanging from the cherry trees outside the Shakespeare Garden to the aging patina of the exterior of the deYoung Museum – is a detail I’ve carried in my head to help make the books richer.

My literary journey with my characters has taken me all over the world, as I sought out the places of my imagination and made them real so they would feel that way for readers, too. Although not a complete list, Olivia and I have: walked the streets of Paris and enjoyed drinks along the Canal Saint-Martin. We’ve been inside an orthodox church in Montenegro and visited a castle on the shores of Lake Bled, Slovenia. We also lived in an apartment in Belgrade, Serbia in the dead of winter, which is something I will never forget, surrounding by the inscrutable letters of the cyrilic alphabet, which turned even the most mundane experiences into something more foreboding in the early dusk of December (or maybe I just have a paranormal writer’s imagination).  In March of 2019 before the pandemic took hold, I was in New Orleans, strolling through graveyards and Voodoo museums to help make a strong connection for Olivia in Book 3. The one thing I never got to experience in person was a Duran Duran concert in Serbia, but you never know, maybe my luck will change! 

Every word of the trilogy is hand written in multiple Moleskine notebooks, along with a three-ring binder with pictures and maps, guides to cities and other reference materials I’ve needed over the years to work. Eventually, it will all end up in a box in my garage as I move on to another novel. Sigh. It seems cruel to shut these six away, after the marvelous lives they’ve lived, which is why I am toying with extending their reign through a prequel for Elsa and a new series for Josef where he heads up his own paranormal mystery series. I think the story of how Elsa became an ageless timewalker could be of interest to readers and Josef strikes me as the perfect sleuth to seek out rare and cursed objects for mysterious clients. I look forward to starting work on those stories sometime next year.
Fortunately, I have a little more time with my favorite witches and vampires as I tighten up the first draft of Book 3 and divine a title. Maybe I should be wishing for divine inspiration – either way, I’m glad to have a little more time with characters that have brought me so much happiness.