A Time to Change Anne Cassidy
A bright school student asked me a question a couple of weeks ago.
If you could change any of your books would you do it?
It was a surprisingly fresh and challenging question. I had to think. I gave an honest answer, YES. Since that day I’ve been thinking about many of my books. What if I had the chance to change bits that I didn’t like?
Take my book FORGET ME NOT. It’s about two small children being abducted twenty years apart. The mysteries of both these abductions are slowly revealed in this book. In narrative terms I am satisfied with the strength of both stories and how they have a thematic link. But when I read over the ending of FORGET ME NOT I can see that it ends abruptly. It was as if I’d got tired of it and drawn a line with ruler and a pencil. That’s that! it seemed to say, I’m not interested in these people any more.
If I’m honest a lot of my books end this way. I tell a pretty full on story and then guillotine it when I think it’s over. I suppose I would say that I want the reader to think about what happens next.
This reminds me of when I was about eleven or twelve. I didn’t do a lot of reading when I was a teen but we were given Lord of the Flies for a class reader. We were half way through and actually I was dying of boredom every lesson. One day the teacher gave us a chapter to read for homework.
I started reading it after my tea and became sucked into the book. The gang wars, the violence and the murders appalled and excited me at the same time. Long after my mum and dad had gone to bed I was reading, breathlessly to the end. Ralph had sharpened a stick at both ends and was chasing Jack across the island. I felt sick and fearful and thrilled and turned each page waiting to see what would happen to Jack. Just at the point where Ralph was going to catch Jack he got to the beach and fell at the feet of a navy officer. An adult. Someone who would save him. Someone who punish Ralph and all the others. Someone who would sort everything out.
I turned the page for the next chapter and found nothing. That was it . The end of the book. No more details. No more scenes. No more of Jack and Ralph. I couldn’t believe it. Still, all these years later, I can’t believe he ended it there.
I can’t change my book FORGET ME NOT. Will I change the way I write in future? Slow down my endings? Put flesh on to the aftermath of the drama? Will I?