With ‘How Hard Can It Be?’ the follow-up to bestseller ‘I Don’t Know How She Does it’ about to be published in 2017, novelist Allison Pearson said: “I gave the first book the wrong ending. She goes and lives in the country and raises pigs. I gave her a get-out-of-jail-free card. I had thousands of letters and e-mails from readers. Quite a lot of them said, oh I can’t give up. Now I think she should have stayed where she was.”
[in an interview with ‘Good Housekeeping’ magazine, October 2017]
How many authors look back at their books and wish they could change something? It is good to hear Allison Pearson admit this about her bestseller I Don’t Know How She Does It. It is difficult to resist the tidiness of a neat ending, and to read the subsequent reader reviews saying ‘I didn’t get it’, but life doesn’t always have answers. ‘I Don’t Know How She Does It’ by Allison Pearson [UK: Vintage]
This ‘leaving things a bit loose’ is a trend which has come to fiction via television series, I think. Not everything is explained, ends are not neatly tied. I am thinking particularly of the Fargo series by Noah Hawley, based on the original film by the Coen Brothers.
But, and it is a big but, readers can tell the difference between an author leaving loose ends on purpose, in order to challenge the reader, to keep the mystery going beyond the last page, to tempt them to read the next book in a series, and an author who is slapdash with detail.
If you agree with Allison Pearson, perhaps you will agree with:-
Vanessa Lafaye, on weaving together historical fact and fictional characters
Antony Gormley, on answering the question ‘What does it mean?
Truman Capote, learn the rules then re-arrange them to suit yourself
‘How Hard Can It Be?’ by Allison Pearson [UK: Borough Press]
And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
I gave the first book the wrong ending: @allisonpearson on #writing a follow-up http://wp.me/p5gEM4-2PT via @SandraDanby