The friend of my friend. . .

Off on another part of Teh Intertubes, a colleague is writing the last book of a series, and is experiencing separation grief.

During our interview at ConQuesT, I made the comment in reply to. . .something, that readers and writers have a different relationship with the writer’s characters; with readers experiencing something like a traditional, real-world “friendship” with those characters they’ve come to like.  The relationship between an author and her characters is more nearly collaborative, and while I do love my children, I don’t worry about them to the extent that some readers report.

Back at. . . Duckon, I think it was, a few years ago, I happened to overhear a young lady in the hallway between panels who was being congratulated by her colleagues for having made an author on a previous panel (on what I suppose was fan fic) break down and cry.  “She had to be made to understand,” the young lady was saying, very sternly, “that she doesn’t own those characters just because she made them up.  They belong to us, because we give them life!”  (Yes, I did check.  No, I didn’t start in with the young lady then and there.  This is entirely due to the fact that Steve grabbed my arm and pulled me down the hall to our next event.)

All of these things, though, speak to the “reality” of fictional characters, and the hold they have over the minds and hearts of readers (and writers, too, if we do only make them up).  My colleague who is wrapping up the series wonders what will happen to their beloved characters in the minds of readers, once their story is told; and if readers will also experience grief, knowing that this is the last book.

I have my own opinions on this (quelle surprise!), but I’d like to hear yours:  How do you handle the ending of a series?  What’s your relationship with — and your responsibilities toward — people who live in books?

8 thoughts on “The friend of my friend. . .”

  1. Ya, I miss them. I look forward to the continuing stories of my favorite characters, even after their authors’ have put them aside. Like others have stated, I hear the echoes of them in the back round of my daily doings. I “jones” for more of favorite literary and screen “friends” and find my fix in revisiting the books or series where we met. I also tend to find real life friends who are familiar enough with the works to be able to have theoretical discussions. There are a lot of us out here.

  2. Hi Sharon,
    I used to join in the comments on the LJ blog, but then you disabled anonymous comments and as I don’t have an LJ account I’m blocked. Are you going to allow anonymous comments again or is the ban permanent?


  3. As a reader, I assume they keep living. That’s one of the problems for me (as a writer) is that they all want to keep telling me their stories when I’m trying to move on to something else.

    “Hey, go live somewhere else for a while. I’ll write about that crazy cat and your fifth cousin’s step-brother some other time.”

    Unfortunately the side stories seem to slip in when I’m not paying attention so I end up writing them anyway.

  4. Melvyn, in Beautiful Theory, anonymous comments are now turned on in my LJ. But. Because I was not the only blogger being inundated with spam posts trying to sell knock off Gucci handbags, LJ Admin has instituted a system whereby anonymous posters must reproduce a CAPCHA(?) sequence in order to have their post passed through.

    I am myself completely unable to do CAPCHA sequences — the blurry letters make no sense to me and my old ears can’t distinguish the spoken letters from all the background fizz and noise, so I’m not sure how useful that is for others.

    I am told, but don’t know much about it, that those who have a Facebook account, or a GooglePlus account may somehow post to LJ as logged-in users, so that may be an option for you.

  5. The stories and the characters are yours. I sometimes feel that writers have concentrated on series writing for so long NOBODY can effectively wrap up a story anymore. Don’t misunderstand me! I will be very sorry to see the day the Liaden series no longer holds your interest or purse strings. I have been a fan and reader from the BEGINNING, and I am always waiting the next book. I hope you continue to write them for years to come. But, if not i will find other books I enjoy, and will probably never miss a wink of sleep.

  6. Thanks Sharon. I didn’t know there were alternatives to an LJ account. I’ll give the Facebook route a go.


  7. For books that I love and read over and over (the liaden series a case in point) I usually fall in love with the characters. I am sure I put my own spin on them but they are never “mine”. I am sad when the series ends but get my “fix” by rereading the books. To me the characters will always be the writers’ and they are friends, heroes and villains for me!

  8. I too get very attached to certain characters, and keep hoping for a new book about them. (I’ve been waiting for “Trade Secrets” for a long time). But worse comes to worse I reread the ones I have or find a new one. But I would never conceive of telling an author he or she absolutely couldn’t kill them off (though I’ll probably cry…). Keep writing and I’ll keep reading.

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