I’ve been getting the question lately about why I decided not to write a fourth book in the The Arkwell Academy, and I figured it best to just lay it all on the table here, down and dirty and completely candid. But before I get started, I’ve got to say that I’m really grateful to get the question at all. It means that there are some people who would welcome a fourth book, and that fills my imagination with baby unicorns and kittens. I would insert a cute picture right now, but my silly website isn’t working (side note: I would love to hire an assistant with some light skills in html – email me, maybe?)
Anyway, back to the point. First let me just say that I think endings are pretty much the most important of any story, both in individual books and in a series. You might have a great beginning and middle but if you botch the ending you pretty much cancel out all that came before. Or you color it an unpleasant shade, leave people with a bad taste, [insert every other metaphor here]. Given my feelings on endings, here is why I stopped with book 3:
- I saw the chance to write the ending I wanted− early. This is totally thanks to my brilliant editor. I had an idea in mind for the ending of this series I finished the first book. And while my editor was down for not wrapping things up in Charade, she did have some comments when she read the first draft of the book that got me questioning my ending. What I discovered was that I could end the whole series on the right note, the way I intended− and most importantly, the way it was supposed to end, in Charade. There just wasn’t a need for a fourth book. This was a shortcut that proved worth it. I’m pretty certain that if you liked the other two books, you’ll be happy with where we go in this last one. Just hang in for the ride.
- I didn’t have a true “story” for what would’ve been book 4. You know how the last Harry Potter felt so different because Harry and his friends were out wandering aimlessly through the books instead of attending Hogwarts? Well, I was facing something similar if I decided to do book 4. I didn’t want to do that. I didn’t want to tread water or draw things out. These books are not Hobbit movies. Why do it in two when one will work?
- I was ready to write something new. I love these books, don’t get me wrong. But I was ready to close the door and say goodbye. And I was ready to open the window on something new.
- Sales are king. I wish I could say that in the real world story is king, but sadly, it’s not. There are plenty of awesome stories that never really take off and crappy stories that sometimes do. I can’t say I know what makes for good sales or not, but I do know that when it came to book 4 I was afraid. Even though my wonderful publisher, Tor Teen is so supportive and great, I worried what a fourth book might do− or more accurately, what it might not do, i.e. sell. And again, given that I saw my ending sooner than I expected why wouldn’t I take it? Sure, the journey is the best part, but sometimes taking the long way around just isn’t worth. Not when the destination is so great. And trust me, getting the chance to finish this series on my own terms? Well, it doesn’t get much better than that.
Anyway…please come back next Wednesday for the “official” cover reveal of The Nightmare Charade + a giveaway of two ARCs (international). You all are the best. Oh, and don’t forget, you can send me questions anytime over on Goodreads or Tumblr.