August 25, 2017

It’s Hard to Say Goodbye

I finally typed the end for Queen of the Night Time World. Yay!  But am I really happy about it? It's the last book in the trilogy. Most of the characters came over from The Night Songs Collection. In some form, I’ve been writing this story my entire writing career. And last night, I said goodbye to the characters.

It's Hard to Say Goodbye--Writing The End of the Cirque Macabre series.

I put this off as long as I could. This story was hard for me to write—for a number of reasons. I actually started it in February and had to keep putting it down so I could meet deadlines. I had to race to get it to the editor August 1.

That wasn’t a typo. I sent it to the editor without the epilogue. After spending the better part of five years messing with these characters’ lives, I had no idea how to make them all happy at the same time, and better yet, make it stick.

It’s done now. They’re happy. I’m happy. We’re all different people now—the characters and me. We grew up together in the writing world, and I made all my mistakes with my Vegas vampire crew. They were patient with me when I didn’t get their story right the first time, when I made decisions that weren’t best for them, and when I didn’t give them the chance to thrive. They let me learn from those mistakes, fix them, and now their story is as I always meant for it to be.

More than that—the stories told by Callie and Holly are the closest to me of all my characters. It used to catch me off-guard that readers thought they made terrible decisions. I let the characters take the lead and used my real-life experiences as my guide. Because the Night was my first book, and I wasn’t ready to create a character that wasn’t…me.

Fifteen years ago, I had an actual dream about a girl trying to make her way in Vegas. Up to that point in my life, I’d never spent more than a weekend in the city. I couldn’t stop thinking about the dream, and I realized that this story was a book. I’d never written a book, either, but I always wanted to. That was a mantra for my life at that point, I hadn’t done a lot of things. Or really, anything. I was floating along, getting nothing done. Doing the safe thing because I let everyone scare me out of pursuing my dreams.

I moved to Vegas so I could write the book. That dream changed every facet of my life.

It's Hard to Say Goodbye--Writing the End of Cirque Macabre

It took me ten years (and a move back to Massachusetts), but I did it. I wrote the book. But it was so much more than that. The move broadened my view of the world. It took me out of my comfort zone and eventually gave me the courage to walk away from a crappy string of retail management jobs and go to cosmetology school. And then the courage to say I didn’t want to work in a salon and pursue makeup.

If it wasn’t for that dream, I wouldn’t be an author and I wouldn’t be doing makeup on movies.

I owe these characters everything. They helped me realize who I really was and that it was okay to be me. That I didn’t have to follow the “rules” that made everyone else happy and me miserable.

Man, I can’t imagine where my life would be if I hadn’t listened to the inner voice that said you’ve got to do something about this.

Even though the story is complete, I’m not sad. I’ll always have these characters with me, and now I can share them with you. And if I know this crew, they’re happy now, but soon enough, they’ll screw something up and need my help to get out of the mess. That’s just how they roll.

And I’ll be there for them, whatever the next chapter brings.

kristenstrassel