Sunday, September 26, 2010

Contemplating The End

I promised an entry about Sammy, so here we go! First off, for those of you who don’t know, Sammy Keyes and the Wedding Crasher will be released in a couple of weeks. Yay! It will be the 13th of a projected 18 titles—a number that was finalized with my editor about two years ago. I did not originally intend to write a series. I had the idea for a single mystery and thought no further than the end of that story. But as Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief drew to a close, I already wanted to spend more time with Sammy. She was quick-witted, hot-headed, and, underneath it all, broken hearted. She was also in seventh grade, and man, that’s a tough place to leave someone you care about! So when the idea for Sammy Keyes and the Skeleton Man crept into my mind, I immediately began the ‘sequel’ to Hotel Thief. Midway through the writing of that second book, Sammy Keyes and the Sisters of Mercy began to infect my thinking. After all, I knew Sammy’d be slapped with a ton of detention for what she had to do to clear her name in Skeleton Man, and what better place to serve that detention than with nuns at a soup kitchen? So I wrote and I wrote and I wrote, and I found that no matter where the next story took me, there was somewhere else for Sammy to go…and grow. Thirteen books later, I still like her, still want to spend time with her, still want to see how she’ll surprise me next. Now, I say thirteen books because the thirteenth is ready for release, but in actuality I am almost done with Sammy Keyes and the Night of Skulls…book fourteen…and I find myself in a very emotional place. (Okay, okay, what else is new, right? But that’s how I am and you know that only because you read this blog. Believe me, I don’t let on to my neighbors or even most of my acquaintances.) I think the reason I find myself weirding out about this “place” is because after Night of Skulls there will be four books left. Four. Yes, that’s actually a lot of books…and nearly a thousand pages of writing to do! But I think the four is significant to me because that’s how the series started—with four. Again, you may already know this, but in case not: I didn’t have a contract for Hotel Thief or Skeleton Man or Sisters of Mercy or Runaway Elf…I’d actually be rejected by publishers and agents all over NYC and my response to them was to write the next book in a series they did not want. It was crazy, but I really thought I was onto something with Sammy, and I couldn’t seem to stop her from creeping back into my mind…and out onto paper. With each new book I hoped that one of those publishers who’d asked me to think of them again with my next project, would see Sammy Keyes the way I did. It wasn’t until after the first four books were written that I finally got my “yes,” and the ensuing contract was for all four books. So “four” has significance to me. It was the launch of this wonderful life, the evolution of characters I would have the luxury of getting to know book by book, year by year…it was a license to love Sammy with all my heart because she’d be in my life for as long as I could imagine. But now, here I am, getting ready to face the final four, and what’s been making this increasingly difficult is that I find myself obsessing about the last book. I’ve known for years how I want the last book to be structured, but there’s a new character that keeps appearing in my thoughts, demanding to be written in. One that shouldn’t be in the book because she has no business being there. One that promises to not interfere, but I’m not sure it’s possible for her to do that. Someone I can’t seem to shake. Me. I feel a little Inception-like—if you saw that movie—where I’ve been in my head with Sammy so long that I’m not sure what’s real…or where I belong. And the whole thing makes me weepy and confused, which is ridiculous because I’m still miles away from that 18th book. A thousand pages! All of us know that our time is going to run out eventually. It’s not knowing when The End happens that makes it bearable. And maybe this heightened emotion I’m experiencing is caused in part by the fact that Sammy has spent half of Night of Skulls in a graveyard or a funeral home or trying to understand death and beliefs in the hereafter, but I can’t seem to shake this looming feeling of The End. The consolation here is that Sammy may reach The End (of the series!) before I reach The End (for reals) (which better be how it goes, ‘cause if I reach The End first, how will Sammy get to The End?), but in the end, she will continue to exist much longer than I will. Which is something I can live with. Something that will help me get to—and through—The End.

22 comments:

sammy4ever said...

heyyy therrre.
so first of all, loved last week's post, sorry i didn't get a chance to comment.
but i can't believe you're "almost done with Sammy Keyes and the Night of Skulls!!!" And I think I know what you mean... I'm anxious to get to the end of the Sammy Keyes series. I'm over-the-top excited about finding out how it all wraps up but at the same time i don't want it to end. I'm afraid of it ending. Sammy and her friends and her world have been a huge part of my life growing up from when I was in like sixth grade. I felt like I was growing up with her and at the same time she was helping me navigate my way through the bumps and potholes on the road of life. I'm at the wheel and she's got the map, but when the series ends, I'll be left alone in my Corvette. (That's what I imagine my Life Car to be) What I mean to say is, Sammy helped me grow up. Of course some parts I had to do by myself. I had to make mistakes to learn from them, I had to experience some pain to gain what I needed, but so did Sammy, and just reminding my self of her would always make me feel better.
One thing that always seemed to stick out to me in the Sammy Keyes series is that you'd wrap up each book with an inspirational message based on what Sammy learned from her mistakes and adventures in the particular book. Like Cold Hard Cash:
".... Maybe it turns out I've been rich all along."
I especially loved it in Curse of Mustache Mary when you said (or Sammy said) something like "It's funny. When ever I pictured Taylor's or Heather's or Casey's lives I could always see the ups and downs, the hills and the valleys. But when I looked at my future, I couldn't see anything." I don't have it word for word, but it was something along those lines.
Sammy has taught me a lot, and I am absolutely going to encourage my kids to read the books when they start middle school. I'm like 104% sure they'll love her as much as I do considering they would genetically be half me.
Here's my list of things I've learned from Sammy:
1. Never wave at burglars you're spying on.
2. Never use a borrowed sweater to put out a fire in a stranger's house
3. Don't trust nuns who wear spandex
4. Never volunteer to take care of a dog for a Xmas Doggie Parade Float
5. Pigs are smarter than you think and drugs are very very very very very times a million bad for you
6. Always make sure the guy who you're engaged to doesn't think you're the reincarnation of his first dead wife (side note: check his closets for any sort of shrine...)
7. Stay away from gangsters and never accept packages from strangers. There's a 97% chance it's a baby
8. People have different views on art. And nobody has purple eyes unless they're wearing contacts
9. Make sure you're mom doesn't let your cat out
10. Make sure their are no dead bodies in your neighbor's compost heap
11. Never give up shoes that you're comfy in
12. Don't go looking for money that old dying men tell you to get rid of
13. Overall learn when to keep your mouth shut
I've learned a lot from Sammy :)
XOXO - Sammy4ever

N3WYORKD3VIL said...

Nooo, Sammyyyyy. Oh my gosh! I regret playing with this cat and teaching him how to jump on my lap when I am typin hhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhj

I'm too lazy to delete that. And in too much of a rush. My cat is too energetic for his own good...But Sammy's the best =] She was the first book I ever read. Ever. I skipped Dr. Seuess and went straight to Sammy =] 13 years with Sammy and I'm finally in the same grade as her and the same age. And let me just say one thing, THANK GOD FOR MY DOCTOR. I love him. He scheduled me to get two shots next month...on October 12. I LOVE that guy. Of course, f it wasn't for Ms. Sheehan, I would only be getting ONE shot. Because of her telling my mom that I lookd grayish in class, I'm getting a blood test on October 12. During school hours. So in the morning, I'll go get my book, go to the hospital and wait. And then I'll get my extrmemly painful injections. But I will not feel it. Dr. Prosper is the only doctor who will let me read a book while I'm getting poked with sharp objects. hhhhhfgfffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffff

My cat walks all over my keyboard and then he lays in front of the monitor like nothing happened. He's so lucky that he's a good kitty. But I need to file his claws or something, cuz its very painful wehn my sister throws him at me...

*sigh* I cannot take it...so many days until WC...I'm weaaak...

I'm reading all the Sammy Keyes books again in order. One for every day...I'm a few books short. PLus, Snake Eyes is gone from the library. Gone as in, SOMEBODY CHECKED IT OUT AND ILL HAVE TO WAIT A WEEK TO GET IT...

Wahhhh...I think I know who has it. Evil Markus does. I saw him reading it the other day... He's evil! A pen thief he be. A pen murderer as well.

N3WYORKD3VIL said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Wild About Words said...

Wendelin, that was beautiful. And honest. And true.
We all get emotional and weepy; that's probably why are books are so good.
Long live Sammy . . . and you!
All best,
Donna

Pooja Dimba said...

I've thought that so many times..
and because you mostly publish a Sammy book once a year that means I'll be when the eighteenth book comes out I will be 18.. (wow, 18 & 18 lol) anyway it makes me wonder well am I still gonna like Sammy Keyes.. and I think I am.
My mom says we move on from things, but since she's been reading romance novels since my age to the age she is now (which I will not say). I think I will still adore Sammy Keyes just as much then.

sammy4ever said...

P.S. On Sunday I did a 5k run for Breast Cancer in San Francisco. Um the Susan G. Komen thing. I started calling it a "marathon" but my mom's like "No a marathon is like 26 miles"
Wow.
Anyway it just made me feel really proud of myself and, funny story, whenever I started to get a little tired I imagined one of the bad guys from Sammy Keyes chasing after me, which made me speed up. I gave myself several panic attacks throughout the run, but at least I kept going.
Can't wait to hear from you next week!
XOXOX-Sammy4ever
P.S.S. My mom keeps asking me when the next Sammy Keyes book comes out. I think my mom might just be as obsessed as I am. :)

stuckinmexicogirl said...

It's funny how you can make us sad for the end even though it's still a few years away! I know it will come a lot faster for you! I always think of the middle schoolers who started reading
about Sammy right when she came out. I mean right now some of them are in their twenties and thrities. I bet they are still reading them and waiting for the end too! I can hardly wait for the end but I also don't want it to come! I mean who wants Sammy to go!
I can't wait for WC! TWO weeks! :D

Jinnyd said...

Same here, samm4ever! It feels weird to already be "older" than Sammy, but then you (Ms. Draanen) are old enough to be her mother (a good one, not like Lana, and no offense!). The Sammy Keyes series made me want a skateboard, high tops, and go out and explore my average-sized town and all of its hidden alleys and suspicious happenings. It made life more vivacious, in a way (but so do all the other books I've read--except for maybe Twilight. That was just...a story, in my opinion.).

And you should totally write yourself into the last book(s)! Yes, a writer' writings are their way of self-preservation, but it would be even MORE preserving if you were actually IN the story. That would be so cool!

AND I AM SO EXCITED FOR WEDDING CRASHER!!!!!! OCTOBER 12!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

xzx583 said...

Even when the series ends, there's always rereading!

bookworm said...

it's ridiculous that SO MANY EVENTS ARE HAPPENING IN MY LIFE ON OCTOBER 12!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I'M SICK OF IT!!!!!!!!!!!!! :D But the suspense of what is going to be in SK and the WC is actually pretty enjoyable. I groan almost every day to my mom that the days seem to be getting slower...aanndd sslloowweerr... aaannnddd ssslllooowwweeerrr bbbyyy ttthhheee mmmiiinnnuuuttteee. AKA, there is a very desperate girl here, Wendelin, that adores your books. make the series longer(please!!)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Optimistic4ever said...

SPOILER ALERT FOR THOSE WHO HAVEN"T READ OR FINISHED READING RUNAWAY! Ok, so this has more to do with Runaway than Sammy Keyes, but I've always wondered how Ms. Leone felt when she recieved Holly's journal.

SPOILER OVER!
Really excited about Sammy Keyes. Only 13? days left!

xxCammyLoverxx said...

Jeeesus, only like ELEVEN FREAKING DAYS. :D Only for me, since I preordered the book, its gonna come like three/four days after since its being delivered and all that stuff. So I'll most likely avoid the internet after the 12th until I read WC so I dont get anything too big spoiled AND so I dont break down and scream. :D Sorry for the late comment I was so busy this week, argh, school. :c It makes me angry. Blllaaaaah. OKay so i loved this post so much. <3 yes, it feels weird being older than Sammy especially since I started the series when I was like in fifth grade. I remember always wanting to be in seventh grade like her haha. And then 7th passed by so quickly... hmm. Unlike Sammy's looooooong hell of a year. :P Actually, it was a quite good year for her too. I dont know. Really. And it feels weird being older than Casey especially since I love him so much but he ACTS older than his age 9thats a good thing. You dont meet many people like Casey. except for this one dude I know, Carter. But whatever. He lives in canada. So.) The bell is going to ring so byyy.

xxCammyLoverxx said...

Gosh, I meant "bye". School keyboards = NEED NEW ONES.

sammy4ever said...

ahaha, i remember wishing that i was the same age as sammy, and then i was in seventh grade and it went by too quickly. i remember like in october i would be like 'so right around here would be when sammy was busting heather's halloween party.... but that's after halloween or maybe early november so i'll have to wait a little...." and then in april "oooh, it's sammy's birthday, HAPPY BIRTHDAY" haha

Stefunny said...

I know that when I finish reading the 18th Sammy book, I'll be waist deep in a sob fest.

xxCammyLoverxx said...

Okay so since Sammy4ever shared her little running story. :D So on October 1st (that would be last Friday, I believe), I RAN WITH SEAN FOREMAN IN THE CHICAGO MARATHON :D I missed school for it but it was so worth it, I swear. So basically, we were supposed to raise at least somewhere around $1,250 per team. At the beginning they were all, “Yes, it SEEMS like a lot but in the end you'll realize that all this experience is worth it!” or whatever, something like that. And I'm not much of a runner, really, but that day I was all pumped and, “LET'S RAISE MONEY FOR THE AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY TODAY!”.
GOD THE RUN WAS SO LONG. But it was fun. If there's anything I love in the world, it's running along the Lake Michigan shore and taking stupid pictures of electrohop-singers' backs. Ahahah. And I got the wear his sunglasses for a moment but that's not the point. The point is, is that I'm proud of committing myself to running around the city to a bank to raise money for a good cause. If there's ever one of those ETRTR marathons in Chicago, PLEASE TELL. I'll go. :D Oh and we ran the mile today. A good way to start a weekend of running? I think not. Especially since I bombed the last mile on purpose just so I can get extra credit on this one for getting a “better score”. bahah

Alexa said...

Oh man, The End is almost here, WAHHHHHHHH!!!!!! Well, I mean it's not that close, but still I never want Sammy to end! I know she eventually has to end, but I still don't want her to! SK13 comes out next week!!! Woo hoo!!!!!!!!!

Rachel Bird said...

It feels SO RIGHT to hear you say you feel compelled to write yourself into the story. Harks back to Adaptation and that was solid gold.

Erum said...

dear wendelin,
u may know me as my email address irummunni10@yahoo.com. but u may not. i am soooooo excited!!! that u decided to continue the books!!!!! and i cant wait to read the 2 new books that ur publishing...... email me at my email adress ok???

Sam said...

*sniff sniff* NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!! why does the series have to end sooooooooooooo short????? someone as talented as u should have gotten ur contract at the 1st book.

TheCoCoMixer Productions said...

Dear Wendelin,
I know you have set dates and everything, but if you can try, I really don't want Sammy Keyes to end. I've been reading them, for like, forever and I can't bear to let it fade out like that... But I understand that everything with a start has an ending (with the exception of love, that NEVER ends), it's just that Sammy is sort of a part of me...

--Kimmy

PS: Will there ever be a movie for Sammy? 'Cause that would be awesome. And of which book? In my opinion, I think The Hollywood Mummy would be great. And last question: Will you ever bring in Sammy's dad? It would be a good last book. The dad could come to New York and runs into Sammy during a crime(?). But her dad would be the top suspect. But the dad isn't guilty. It could be like his new girlfriend or something(?)? ('Kay, now I feel stupid for doing two questionmarks) And the dad would feel bad for never seeing Sammy, but Sammy will resent her dad. The dad would give her a cell phone but Sammy would intentionally break it in spite of her dad(?). But it's up to you. And you, Wendelin, could be another sleuth trying to crack the mystery. I don't know. And if you read all that... wow. Now my hands hurt. Gotta go! Thanks for reading this! This is just my brainstorm... :)

TheCoCoMixer Productions said...

Dear Wendelin,
I know you have set dates and everything, but if you can try, I really don't want Sammy Keyes to end. I've been reading them, for like, forever and I can't bear to let it fade out like that... But I understand that everything with a start has an ending (with the exception of love, that NEVER ends), it's just that Sammy is sort of a part of me...

--Kimmy

PS: Will there ever be a movie for Sammy? 'Cause that would be awesome. And of which book? In my opinion, I think The Hollywood Mummy would be great. And last question: Will you ever bring in Sammy's dad? It would be a good last book. The dad could come to New York and runs into Sammy during a crime(?). But her dad would be the top suspect. But the dad isn't guilty. It could be like his new girlfriend or something(?)? ('Kay, now I feel stupid for doing two questionmarks) And the dad would feel bad for never seeing Sammy, but Sammy will resent her dad. The dad would give her a cell phone but Sammy would intentionally break it in spite of her dad(?). But it's up to you. And you, Wendelin, could be another sleuth trying to crack the mystery. I don't know. And if you read all that... wow. Now my hands hurt. Gotta go! Thanks for reading this! This is just my brainstorm... :)