“Inspirations and Influences” is a series of articles in which we invite authors to write guest posts talking about their Inspirations and Influences. In this feature, we invite writers to talk about their new books, older titles, and their writing overall.
On October 18 we will publish the last Extrahuman Union book – never published before, Extrahumans closes Susan Jane Bigelow’s series, set in a dystopian future science fiction novel with superheroes trying to survive under a totalitarian regime. Extrahumans has all the answers we have been waiting for and a LGBT romance at its core.
Please give a warm welcome to Susan Jane Bigelow, folks!
If writing a series is a difficult task, then ending one feels nearly impossible. But I knew as I began to write this book that it would be the last in this cycle of stories, and the last with this cast of characters, so it was up to me to make that ending as satisfying and emotionally resonant as possible.
Good endings for a series are actually hard to come by, and a bad ending can feel like utter disaster. Take, for instance, the ending of The Chronicles of Narnia. Spoiler alert: everyone but Susan Pevensie dies in a train wreck and the big lion is actually Jesus. I know. I’m still not over that one.
The ending of Harry Potter left a lot of people cold, as well. The last few pages, about who married who and what their children’s names were, seemed oddly out of place and dreary for a series that had dealt with such earth-shattering events. And really, Hermione could have done better than Ron.
A good, satisfying ending for a series should do a couple of things: it should wrap up whatever the overarching storyline was, it should give the reader closure, and it should, above all, feel emotionally true to the story and characters.
I thought Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Mercy did all three very well, for instance. Breq’s character development comes to a satisfying conclusion, the overarching story is wrapped up well, and even though I was left wanting more, Leckie picked an excellent place to stop.
Two other series I thought did this exceptionally well were Jim C. Hines’s Princess novels—I still think The Snow Queen’s Shadow is the best thing he’s ever written because it’s both so heartbreaking and so right—and N.K. Jemisin’s Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, which ends with a completely satisfying bang.
That’s who I looked to when I tried to write this story. A tall order, to be sure! And, I’ll be honest, my first attempt didn’t go well. The rough draft was a terrible, disjointed mess, and I had to let it sit for over a year before I could go back to it and find its emotional heart. It took several brutal revisions before it was ready to be sent out.
But I felt in the end that I had given these characters the ending they deserved, and that I’d taken them to a place where I could actually let them go. I wanted to answer the questions that needed answering, complete Penny Silverwing’s emotional arc in a way that made sense for her character, and wrap up the major overarching plotlines.
Did I succeed? That’s up to readers to decide! But I’m proud of this one. And, of course, I’m grateful that it’s coming out at all. My thanks to all of you who have read these books and supported my writing, and my special thanks to Ana and Thea, who gave this series another lease on life.
And that, I think, is a good place to end.
Extrahumans will be published officially on October 18, 2016. If you haven’t read the first books in the series yet, you can grab a copy of Broken (book 1) for just $0.99 and Sky Ranger (book 2) for $2.99 and get started right now!