Last night I was awakened at 2:30 AM by a book. No, not my husband swatting me with one for snoring (and please don't suggest this to him). I was prodded into wakefulness by the book I'm currently writing, (working title) CODE TRIAGE, the third in the Mercy Hospital series. The characters, San Francisco police officer Nick Stathos, ER physician Leigh Stathos, chaplain Dana Hale, a one-eyed donkey named "Tag," and his thoroughbred pal "Frisco" insisted on face time with this author. Even though (after writing 3,880 words that day) my face was very happily scrunched into my pillow thank you. It was 2:30 AM, for goodness sake. That said, I really wasn't surprised. Because . . .
Yesterday I wrote the final chapter of the Code Triage story, and now all that remains in this initial draft is to write an epilogue. A last chapter, set several months after the plot ends, to gives a reader a stronger sense of what happens to all those characters. As the subject title of this post suggests, it "ties up loose ends." And, if the book is part of a continuing series, may also hint at a story to come. Because this particular book is the third in a 3-book contract, I'm in the interesting position of tying my loose ends into sort of a tightrope, so I can walk . . . into the unknown. Will there be a spin off character? A new series in a new setting? The reality is, at this point I don't know. CRITICAL CARE has barely launched, DISASTER STATUS is in production but won't release until January, and CODE TRIAGE is in draft stage. There are plenty of unknowns, a good stretch of tightrope to walk. Something I've done before as a published author--my balance is pretty good.
My series characters, however, are antsy. Everyone wants to be sure that he (she/it) gets their particular loose ends tied up. In Code Triage and, to my surprise, the preceding books as well. At 2:30 A.M., those folks were prodding this author and whispering, "reunion." They laid out a case for an epilogue party--a wedding--a chance for the characters in all three books to gather together. They said it could work. They told me the locale where it should happen. They promised to behave. And reminded me that it was logical, because:
1) they all worked in the same hospital system
2) most of them already knew each other.
3) All had suffered at my hand (I may have heard that wrong, I was half asleep).
4) And therefore deserved a reunion party
They set forth a pretty good case. The whole caboodle of them: characters you're meeting now in Critical Care (Logan "McSnarly" Caldwell, Claire Avery), folks you'll meet at year's end in Disaster Status (Erin Quinn, Scott McKenna), and my current rabble-rousers, Nick and Leigh Stathos in Code Triage. I won't even go into how surreal it is to have a 2:30 AM visitation from their assorted menageries: one-eared cat, geriatric goldfish, yodeling Chihuahua, a cockatoo . . . and that donkey. Very tough on the bedroom carpet. But they got my attention. So . . .
I'll be tying up loose ends. Writing an epilogue for this third book. Keeping my balance . . . and considering these characters' requests. The truth is, they did struggle for me. And did me proud. But . . .
How do you tie a party hat on a goldfish?