So, I got to read the sequel to THE NOCTURNIAN, the YA Sci-Fi novel Francesca's querying right now, over the past couple of weeks.
(I know. You're seething with jealousy. And you should be. Here's why:)
I finished the book and I felt like I needed a moment to be alone, just so I could deal with it being over.
Chessie's asked me what I thought about it, and I feel bad that I can't really put it into words any better than that. But it's true. There was a sense of completion, victory and hope, underlaid with a very acute feeling of loss. Something irreparable. Something life-changing. It felt like there was sort of an emptiness, where the book had taken a little piece of my heart that I couldn't really ever get back.
What I could say about the book was this: The last book that made me feel that way at the end was POSSESSION by Elana Johnson. The one before that? CATCHING FIRE, the second book in THE HUNGER GAMES trilogy.
Now, there have been plenty of books I've really really enjoyed that did NOT make me feel like that. Those books fall into the (much more easily definable) category of "Obsessed." That means, to me, that even when I'm not reading, I'm thinking about the story. Songs I hear on the radio make me think of that-one-chapter-when. I see someone at a coffee shop, and think, "Oh! That looks just like Alexis." I can't hear something about Paris on the news without thinking of the fictional hi jinx that occurred there in that one book I loved so much.
So all my CPs' books fall into that category, (duh) right along with HARRY POTTER and TWILIGHT.
All these books are ones I am passionate about, for one of two reasons:
1. I'm obsessed with the world and/or the characters and/OR
2. I feel like my heart got torn out and trampled on by the end.
Of course, I want to write a story that others are passionate about. After all, a book's not going to sell too well if people pick it up, read some pages, say, "eh," and put it down again.
This is only my second project, and so I'm still not quite sure how to go about inspiring obsession. But I think I have some idea of how to tear hearts out.
This brings me to a post my CP and writing-life coach Jean made recently about war in fiction. In the blog, she discusses her WiP, and how even though it's about kid assassins (I know! Awesome, right?) it's really about war.
Then I commented that reading about war is so gut-wrenching, because at the end, no one wins. And that's the worst part of the whole thing.
And then I thought, well, that's really how real life is, isn't it? There are no one hundred percent happy endings. For stories to feel real, and identifiable, and to tear the readers' hearts out and put them back in again not-quite-whole...there has to be a sense that no one really won here. Even if there was a literal win, like of a battle (oh hey HARRY POTTER) there's still going to be a lot lost.
The same sense we feel in our own lives.
The same things that build us up and tear us down.
The same things we know to be true.
The same things that make us human will make our characters and our stories human too.
Quite frankly, this is something I think is a little flawed about my first project. Sure, there's a bit of loss, and it's something that punches me in the gut every time. But I'm not sure it's something every reader would care about. In writing ONE, it was one of my hopes that, in achieving some of her goals, my MC also had to sacrifice a great deal. I think I'm getting a lot better at that with this second project.
So, what makes you crazy-in-love with a book? And what are you doing to make that happen in your own writing?