Sunday, 22 September 2013

Guest Post: Carly Anne West (The Murmurings) + Giveaway

Help me welcome Carly Anne West, author of The Murmurings, to City of Books for a guest post, as part of Books that Glow: YA & MG 2013!

The End
by Carly Anne West

I’m going to tiptoe into this discussion, because I’m finding that it receives some seriously fired up responses. Which leads me to believe it’s a topic worth exploring, so let’s begin at the end, shall we?
I’ve been reading quite a lot of discussion lately around endings. You know, that part of the book in which writers reluctantly (very, very reluctantly) tear their typing hands away from the manuscript, breathe in the final word, and exhale that same word like it’s maybe the last word their mind will ever make their busy little fingers type. The end. The final punctuation on a journey several years in the making, several gray hairs in the sprouting, several ulcers in the burning, several pounds in the gaining. The end. Those two words are enough to send me careening into a breakneck downward spiral.
So endings are tough to write, at least they are for me.
And what I’m finding through my reading is that, for as many authors as there are who struggle like I do with writing these moments, there are exponentially more readers struggling with the way their favorite (or not-so-favorite) books are ending. And as a writer, I feel compelled to offer responses to questions that begin with "why." Why this struggle exists. Why these feelings prevail. But I’m not going to offer a solution, as that would suggest I’ve got the answers worked out, the formula chalked and sealed on a board. I have none of that. I have an exploration of how I come to the endings of stories, and with that, please, do what you will.
I don’t know very many authors who know how their books will end when they start writing them. I have writer friends who prefer a certain type of ending over another, just as I have reader friends who share those same preferences. And with hope, those readers find those writers, and we all live happily ever after. The end.
Except that it’s way more complicated than that. Here’s why I struggle so much with endings: I don’t see my characters’ stories stopping. By the time the final page turns, I believe with every fiber of my little being that those characters continue. Their struggles never cease, their joy will perhaps grow, perhaps dwindle, they may continue to make the same stupid, cringeworthy mistakes they were making on the pages, they may outgrow that ridiculous fascination with that ridiculous person. But they live on. And so the real question for me becomes where to stop telling the story.
I have only one answer to that question – it depends. Each character’s story poses a different set of aches and victories and crushing moments and beautiful dreams. Each collection of characters is gathered into a story – crashing into one another until they’re all bruised – and their composite story demands an ending unique to their particular wreckage. That ending might be a bit tidier in some cases. In others, those endings will remain undone. But in every ending I write, I hope to honor the particular journey of that band of characters and leave those last words on the page in the hands of those characters. They’ll tell you what they need to tell you.
Satisfying? I hope so. More importantly (to me, anyway), is the answer to this question: Are you thinking about those characters after you house your book back on its shelf? Then they probably left you with as much information as they felt like they could leave.

Thank you so much to Carly Anne West for this amazing guest post! As a reader, I definitely do struggle with endings sometimes, and it does make me feel better to know that authors feel the same way.

About Carly Anne West:

Carly Anne West is the author of the YA novel THE MURMURINGS and several short stories of the odd and often dark variety. She is a freelance writer with an MFA in English and Writing from Mills College. Carly lives with her husband and son in Seattle, Washington.

Find Carly on:

About The Murmurings:

Title: The Murmurings
Author: Carly Anne West
Release date: March 5th 2013
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Genre: Young Adult Thriller

Everyone thinks Sophie’s sister, Nell, went crazy. After all, she heard strange voices that drove her to commit suicide. But Sophie doesn’t believe that Nell would take her own life, and she’s convinced that Nell’s doctor knows more than he’s letting on.

As Sophie starts to piece together Nell’s last days, every lead ends in a web of lies. And the deeper Sophie digs, the more danger she’s in—because now she’s hearing the same haunting whispers. Sophie’s starting to think she’s going crazy too. Or worse, that maybe she’s not…

Carly Anne West is giving away a SIGNED copy of The Murmurings, and a journal.
This giveaway is US only.
The winner will have 48 hours to reply to my email.
Enter the Rafflecopter below, and good luck!


  1. I completely agree! And I really understand about never seeing a character's story as ending. When I write, I always see the characters living on after I've written the last word. Endings are so hard!

  2. I think about some characters after reading a usually depends on how the book left off.. i have read some books that left off with big cliffhangers and then no news on any other books after that one.. I havent read The Murmurings but i have been wanting to!!!

  3. Unfortunately, I have not read it yet but the plot does seem interesting. :)


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