Finishing the Series


The Eighth Court, the fourth and final book in the series, The Courts of the Feyre, is finished. It’s with my publisher, who may request some revisions or amendments, and after that it has to go through copy edit, and proof-reading, and all the other publication magic but, to me, it feels finished. I’m not going to spoil it for readers by sharing the plot, but I would like to reflect on the series, and what writing the last book was like.

It was hard. The last year hasn’t been the easiest of times for reasons to do with the health and well-being of the people closest to me. Fortunately everyone seems to be pulling through and things are generally on the up, which is a relief to us all. Setting myself apart from all that to write has been difficult, but even without the events of the year this book would have been hard.

The Eighth Court

The Eighth Court

I’ve been working full-time while I’ve been writing, which is great because it pays the bills. I have a job in IT that is engaging, complex and sometimes difficult, and one of the challenges has been the gear-change between working, where I’m thinking about networks, servers and infrastructure, and  writing, where I’m thinking about characters, plots, scenes and settings. Writing requires a different mind-set, and I confess that some evenings I wasn’t able to make the switch, which meant that either I got no writing done, or the next day I would sit down and delete everything from the previous day and start again. Although the book is just under 120,000 words, I estimate that I’ve written closer to 180,000 words. Some chapters have been written two or three times before I felt they were right.

I set out with some clear goals. I already knew how the series would end, or I thought I did, and I had to work towards that end in a way that made sense for the characters and the situation that had already been created. There were some questions that were created by the previous books in the series, and those questions needed answers. The series themes, of things hidden in plain sight, of events from long ago having impact in the present day, and of a hidden world beneath the one we know, needed to be continued and developed. The one big question – what has this all been about – needed an answer.

With this being the final book in the series, I didn’t want to bring in a lot of new characters or elements which hadn’t been seen before. There are already well over 50 characters in the books, some of whom are dead, or won’t be seen again, but I felt there was plenty to work with. There are a few minor characters that appear in this book but mostly they’re people we’ve already encountered earlier. The magic in the book is consistent with the magic that already exists. There are some surprises, but those are consistent with what we already know. The world of the Feyre has a lot of detail behind it which dictates how and why things are the way they are, and in this final book more of this will be revealed, but the world will remain largely mysterious. Be assured, there are rules and constraints and reasons, but they’re not in the book. Perhaps one day there will be a Courts of the Feyre bestiary, but not yet.

Most of all, I wanted this to be a satisfying end to the series, and that meant delivering on the promises set by the previous three books. Niall, Blackbird and Alex each have their own plot arc, and each of these arcs needed to reach a conclusion in this book. Each of them had been changed by the events in the series, and in the final book those changes needed to bear fruit – we should feel that they have reached a conclusion and a resolution. It turns out that writing the final book in a series is harder than writing any of the others. I think I said once that if I’d known how hard writing would be I would never have started – that applies even more to a series. I liken it to rolling a snowball – the more you roll it, the bigger it gets and the harder it is to roll, but roll it must.

And when I got to the end that I’d planned from the start, it didn’t work the way I thought it should. I was forced to step back, reconsider, and write a different ending. I like the new ending, but it was a total surprise. I had no idea it was going to end quite like that, but the new ending works so much better.

Before I sent the book to my editor, Lee, I went back to my goals and asked myself where exactly I had delivered on the objectives I’d set for myself. I found the pieces in the text and read them back to make sure I’d done what I set out to do. To me, it’s all there, and that’s why I can say that it feels finished. Of course, I’m not the final arbiter of that, and you the readers must judge that for yourself.

To me, though, The Courts of the Feyre feels complete, and I’ve told the story I set out to tell.

 

 

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  1. #1 by Mike on April 28, 2013 - 6:10 pm

    Hi Sheryl, thanks for the comment and I’m glad you’re enjoying the books. I think the next thing I write will be something a bit different – I’ve been playing around with some ideas and I have some more work to do before I have any certainty about it. One of these is set in the real world, but it’s not a feyre book. I think I have to give myself some time before I go back to those characters, especially after everything that happens in The Eighth Court.

  2. #2 by Sheryl Boyle on April 28, 2013 - 2:46 pm

    Congratulations Mike! I am waiting with anticipation as I’ve thoroughly loved your books. I’m also saddened that this is the last in the series, so I cannot help but ask what the next writing project will be. Have you thought of writing about this world on characters we already know?

  3. #3 by Laura on March 24, 2013 - 5:38 am

    I just picked up the first book, on recommendation of a friend, and was ten chapters in before I realized it. I’m hooked. Very much looking forward to the rest of the series.

  4. #4 by Mike on March 16, 2013 - 8:46 am

    Reading all of Sixty-One Nails in a few hours is an achievement in itself – it’s not a small book. Very glad you’re enjoying it, and I hope the other books live up to expectations.

  5. #5 by Jamie on March 15, 2013 - 2:51 pm

    Hi! Congratulations! Let me tell you, I’m a fan of your stuff now. I picked up your book, Sixty-One Nails, on a whim and I’m really glad I did come across it when I did. Finished it in a few hours in the bookshop cafe and went right back in to buy the next two books. I’m looking forward to getting my hands on the last book! Well done, really.
    Thank you very much!

  6. #6 by Mike on February 12, 2013 - 1:16 pm

    Good to hear! Say Hi for me :-)

  7. #7 by Suzanne Wright on February 12, 2013 - 12:30 pm

    Hi Mike! Glad to hear the hard toil has piad off. All the guys at Sheffield libraries are eagerly awaiting the final installment.

  8. #8 by Tim Ward on February 3, 2013 - 12:14 pm

    Congratulations, Mike! I can’t wait to see how it finishes. I’ve thought about emailing you to see how it was going, but didn’t want to take time away from the task. You have accomplished a great feat.

    Now, go “fire” some arrows ;)

    p.s. I’m glad to hear those close in your life are doing better. I pray they continue to heal.

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