Sunday, April 15, 2012

A Little Confession

A little confession:

I seriously considered giving the advance money back for the last two Sammy Keyes books.

I thought maybe writing more after Sammy Keyes and the Showdown in Sin City would be a mistake.

It has such a beautiful ending.

Really, it could be The End.

And I started wondering, would more be less? How could I write an ending that wrapped the series up better than the ending of Sin City.

What was the purpose?

I talked it over with Mark. I talk everything over with Mark. And he got it, and in a way he agreed. But his advice was to take a little time. He pointed out that I’ve been on a very rigorous deadline schedule. and that the confluence of that and other unrelated but very draining pressures probably just had me exhausted.

Which is true. I try to keep a sunny outlook, but thunderclouds keep storming the castle! Back, you ominous blobs of darkness! Back!

And I have been working very hard to meet my deadlines and NOT SLACK OFF with the writing. It is so important to me that the quality of each Sammy Keyes book is at least as good as, if not better than, the previous one.

I keep raising the bar on myself.

Because I think it’s important!

So…what was the purpose in continuing? If everything’s wrapped up so great at the end of Sin City, shouldn’t I just stop? Who needs a really intriguing final mystery on a cruise ship (my intention for the penultimate book), or to have Sammy…well, I can’t tell you what I’d planned for the last Sammy. I’ll start to cry.

Why not just stop?

I thought about talking to Nancy about it, but didn't. Instead, I went through the motions, hoping I’d get inspired. I did research, came up with a family tree for the cruise ship characters, gave them names, personalities, nailed down the basics of the mystery, conflicts, motives…

And I wrote nothing. Oh, I opened a Word doc and named it Sammy Keyes and the Killer Cruise. I put in the header and wrote Prologue across the first page. But whenever I’d open up the file I'd just stare at it. Or find something to clean. It wasn’t writer’s block. I just wasn’t sure I should write another book.

And then one morning Mark brought me my laptop and said, “Sammy time”. And, I don’t know. After staring at “Prologue” for about five minutes, out of my fingers came:

I look back on things I’ve done and wonder…why didn’t I see that coming?

Why didn’t I know that was a bad idea?

Why didn’t someone warn me?

Grams would tell you she does warn me and that the question should really be, Why don’t I listen?

Which, yeah, I admit, is usually the case.

But not this time. This time I thought it was a bad idea. This time I warned Grams and my mother and Hudson and anyone else who told me it was a good idea that it was a bad idea.

This time they didn’t listen.

Which is how I wound up on a cruise with a dad I barely knew, an endless buffet of party animals, and a family of creepy millionaires.

Happy birthday to me.

And that was all I needed.

To have Sammy appear.

And yes, we've set sail.

See you at the next port!


Yusa said...

OMG now i'm even more psyched to find out who her dad is.
Actually first of all thank you for continuing to write. I was about to have a heart attack at the beginning of the post when it sounded like it was over. So thank you. It means a lot to me that you kept on writing and i'm glad you got rid of your writers block.
Already it sounds like a really good book and that was just the prologue.
Good luck on your next book and please don't stop writing... for us and all your other fans. Even when sammy keyes is over.

Kylie said...

So happy you are writing the last one, but I so understand what you are saying. It is like why continue when something is already complete? But I really glad you are.

And the millionaire line is making me think thy her dad is rich, but also not. I want that book now to, even though you just started and I just finished Justice Jack! (Awesome by the way. Really loved it!). I can't wait to find out about her dad. And if you are about to cry about that book it makes me want it more, because I almost cried in Justice Jack at the one moment where she got that one thing. (if you know why I mean). I can't wait!!!

Wendelin I dedicated my last post to you on my blog and this post right here is yet anoter reason why you are my favorite author. You are telling us this stuff that most authors would never tell us. Thank you! I really love this!

Wendelin Van Draanen said...

I did actually think about you guys as I was agonizing. I kept reminding myself that it wouldn't be fair to you. And here I've told y'all this and haven't even told my editor! Thanks for caring.

Kylie said...

I had a heart attack too! But I am okay now, my breath has returned.

Optimistic4ever said...

I get what you mean by saying that it ends beautifully. It makes sense that if it really ends making it seem complete, there's no point in moving on.

Still, I'm so glad you're writing the last two books :). Your stories are awesome and you are really inspiring.

Please don't stop writing, even after you finish the SK series.

We love you <3

Wendelin Van Draanen said...

I know this is probably confusing because I'm working ahead of what's published, but just to clear up--Killer Cruise (working title) is the one before the last one which is (working title) Kiss Goodbye. (I can't believe I'm telling you this stuff!) And the millionaires are the cruising family, not a hint about Sammy's dad.

So it goes Justice Jack, Sin City, Killer Cruise, Kiss Goodbye.

And now I should really shut up!

(But not before I thank you for the nice comments!)

Kylie said...

Good I hoping he wasn't rich! And kiss goodbye! I hope that's the name! I love it! So cute! Thanks so much for telling us! We really appreciate it!

Harriet said...

omg omg omg. Mrs. Van Draanen you should be more careful about what you say or else all of your readers will hyperventilate and have heart attacks! ^_^ Just kidding (but no really I did hyperventilate and almost keel over!)

Please continue writing! Agh. All those titles! Justice Jack! Sin city! Killer cruise! Kiss goodbye! I can't bear the wait- but I'll have to...sadly -_- we are all sooooooooo excited ^_^

Wendelin Van Draanen said...

Sorry about the hyperventillation. I've been going through some of that too. It's probably not healthy for me to live in this blurred space between reality and fiction! Thanks for the company :)

Yusa said...

I'm glad you didn't just make yourself go on just to write more, but because you actually had more to write. Some people hate when authors keep writing books when it just ruins the series. You took that into consideration so thank you again.
Also these titles are like os intriguing so i can't wait even more.
Are you done writing Sin City? And do you have a plan of what's going to happen in the last book? I hope you still keep writing after that.

Shaina said...

YAY!!! I know what you mean when you say less is more with an ending. I do like a little mystery at the end of a story, so I can decide for myself how all the little details play out. BUT that being said, Sammy is so awesome that I don't really care about appropriately mysterious endings! I'll take as much as you'll give me! Thanks for sharing The Plans. I feel kind of sneaky for knowing what you have in mind...

Anonymous said...

this is so much to take in!!!!!!! i honestly would have broken down sobbing if you hadn't decided to keep going, if you said sammy's story was done. because i have grown up with sammy and i couldn't have handled her growing up too fast. THANK YOU WENDELIN for considering us fans, and that sammy needed 2 more books :D
back to the titles....... i literally shrieked when i read them! and my mom was like "*sigh* what book is this about now?" and i started on this big rant about sammy keyes :) BUT ANYWAY. i can't even handle my excitement to see everything you have in store for sammy! do you have any preliminary release dates? for sin city or any of the others?
thanks so much wendelin, i honestly can't imagine my life without your books!!

Anonymous said...

ALSO wendelin and fellow sammy keyes fans- i just made this for everyone! it's my version of an album cover for Sammy + Casey's song, Waitin' For The Rain To Fall by Darren Cole and the Troublemakers. i know the song isn't real, but i wish it was! WENDELIN you and your band should perform it sometime! but even if you don't, here is my art for it! i hope you like it!!

Anonymous said...

I'm getting really emotional. My latest post is about me being all sad and droopy like Billy in Wedding Crasher in that one moment. I call it Eeyore-Billy.
Honestly, everyone you know is so lucky. Mark, your sons, your family and friends. You are the nicest, funniest, coolest author--actually, ADULT, I know. And you actually care about your readers and you just..SORRY. THIS IS SO CHEESY!
Just so you know, you've inspired me in so many different ways. You even make running look fun! And trust me, I may play many sports, but I am not a runner. The point is, I may be nothing like Sammy (I'm a mix of Billy and Marissa and maybe Grams) but still. Even when the series is over, I'm going to make all my kids read them, so on, so forth. So...even when the world is all dystopian with mutated people or Hunger Games or factions or whatever, Sammy Keyes will live on.
And Killer Cruise? Kiss Goodbye? *having a seizure* JESUS CHRIST. THIS IS AMAZING.

Anonymous said...

One more thought to add (just read yuseyez's comment), so:
Thats very true. A lot of authors just keep going on and on. Don't get me wrong, Rick Riordan, I'm glad I can read more Percy-ness in your new series...but still. It's kind of a sell-out move. "Yeah, everyone loved Percy Jackson and I can't BEAR to part with him so here's just one more money-making series to the list!"
Samy with Stephenie Meyer and her 'Midnight Sun'-whatever. Dude, we didn't like Edward when the series was from Bella's perspective. What makes you think we'd like him in HIS point of view!?
And Fall Out Boy (the band, der) promoting Coke and Vans in their music videos. SELL OUT MOVE.
Needless to say, a lot of people don't think about the QUALITY of their work over the quantity. The fact that you thought about the quality and effect of your series ABOVE the amount (or, in FOB's case, the amount of $$$$), shows even more what a great author you are.

Kylie said...

So true!

Wendelin Van Draanen said...

You have no idea how much I appreciate that comment, Steph. Do you know how much $ sense it would make to write a sequel to Flipped? I've been asked and asked and asked (for, like, 10 years), but I'm holding firm on my belief that more is less. My purpose for SK has always been to get her through Middle School because I believe if you have a firm sense of self during those difficult years, you will be solid in life. What you see as "you" during those years stays with you for the rest of your life. So if you feel inferior or alone, that haunts you. Mission: convey that being you--being different--that's better than okay, that's good. To me "mission accomplished" is so much bigger than what sort of profit I can gain by extending a series (or, in the case of Flipped, book). I know you guys get that, but it was really nice to read the comment and feel understood. Love and high-tops to you all!

Kylie said...

So true! I am watching my sister in her last year at junior high and her friends are all I can't wait to go to high school and I keep telling them to enjoy it! I miss it so much! That is were I have made my best friends and infigured out who I wanted to be!

Yusa said...

Yeah that's exactly what i meant Steph! (though i was never 'allowed' to read twilight). They write more for money or just because people want more. Then people complain that they've ruined it or something.

The Seventh-Born Chronicles said...


The absentee dad appears!

On...a cruise ship? We demand an explanation!

And I, the 20-year old college student who still loves Sammy Keyes, can not thank you enough that you decided to finish up the series as originally intended. Though now I'm at the edge of my seat, trying to figure out what elements could be included to Sin City that make it such a beautiful ending...

See you at the port, Sammy!

Norma said...

OMG! Wendelin! I was freaking out through most of the post when I was thinking you really wanted to stop. If the end of Sin City was really THE END, then as your fan, I would agree, but as Sammy's fan, I'd be bawling my eyes out. Thank goodness we get to see this through to the end! The real END.

Yeah, guys, I thought for a second: Wait. So Sammy's dad comes from a snooty rich family? But then I figured that Lady Lana would Never give up that opportunity for Sammy to know her dad if he was loaded unless there was something really bad that happened. Ugh, I'm in agony! Must know who Sammy's dad is. Also, must read the next book. Just a few more months until Justice Jack!

Harriet said...

I totally agree ^_^

Harriet said...

I totally agree ^_^

McKensie Miller said...

Thank you so much for continuing!
I don't like to think about Sammy Keyes ever ending. That was an incredibly suspenseful blog post!

Cat said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cat said...

NOOOO I can't believe this series is ending! :'( I'm thankful that you aren't going to stop before The Kiss Goodbye though. Sammy Keyes is such a great series!!

littlepie612 said...

I'm so sad about the series ending, it was a good series though! I guess it couldn't go on forever, of course. Anyway, i'm excited for the new books! :)

AprilMayChan said...

I've been trying to find somewhere to leave you a message, so I guess this will have to do. I have been a Sammy Keyes fan since elementary school, and even now, as a college grad, I look forward to every new Sammy mystery. After finishing Sin City (no spoilers), I just wanted to say that the answers and conclusions that were brought up have been well worth the wait. As much as I'd love to see this series continue forever, I know it has to end somewhere. Sin City was an amazing book and it felt like an end and a beginning all at once. As a long time fan, I appreciate all the work and effort you have put into the series down through the years. :)

Unknown said...

You rock so MUCH I could never rite as well as U!!! All my books Never got publidhed! I am so jealous of your gift to write...

:) Good luck finishing up.. PLEASE don't finish this series:( I like it SO SOSOSSOSOSOSOSOSOSO MUCH!!!
Multiply so by google plex... I LUV U!!! THIS IS AMAZING

Unknown said...

SAMMY KEYES WILL never leave my heart!!!
Let this series be a NEVERENDING Story!!!

Unknown said...

i'm psyched, are u guyz???

-Anna Spaghellini