If you’ve been here a while you know that, Long Cool Woman is Ellie’s song.
The reason for this blog post is because of an email I got this morning. I thought, maybe, we’d have a chat about it. Stick around for some writer truths.
For almost 20 years, Ellie Conway lived in my head. I knew her longer than I knew my own brother. Yep, that’s right. She occupied a lot of space. Her, her team, the videos that ran constantly in my mind. She had a lot to say until one day she didn’t.
But we both knew that day would come and why.
She showed me about 8 years ago what would happen. I just didn’t know the context or the whole story.
I stuck with Ellie until she told me we were done, or rather, she was done.
She did have one final truth to impart and that is the last story in Raidbyte. Surprised the hell out of me, until I started thinking over her reactions to various things, around the Exacerbyte-Databyte era. Bit by bit, I saw the things we weren’t supposed to see. The truth is in there, partially obscured but definitely there.
When Ellie walked into my life, I knew I couldn’t really do much else but what she wanted me to do. And I couldn’t. It’s very hard to silence someone as strong willed as Ellie Conway.
I also knew that she was aging like a real person. As she aged, I knew she wanted to retire and be a full time mom, at least for a little while. I knew she didn’t know what that would look like or if it was even possible. I knew that she could never even begin to take those steps within the US.
How did I know?
Because she was part of me and unless she actually stopped me seeing things I saw everything. She did stop me, sometimes, which is why I was surprised when she confessed to something in a story called “Telephone Line”.
Don’t for one second, think that saying goodbye to Ellie was easy for me. You don’t just walk away from 20 years with a character like her, unscathed. There is a grief process (or tequila, whatever).
It is not arrogance or ignorance that led to the outcome in Vaporbyte. It is not the destruction of any ‘social contract’. It is simply the way it ended and had to end. When all is said and done, my job, is to be true to my characters. And that, is what happened. Nothing else.
The reason there are two versions of Vaporbyte: One is the truth as I saw it, as Ellie showed me. The other, was because my youngest daughter never forgave me for the end of Terrorbyte. She said I should write an alternate ending for the last book. And no one said I couldn’t. I even ended up with an extra ISBN for Vaporbyte so it felt right to use it!
Amazon refused to allow two versions.
But both versions are available everywhere else, including in paperback form from Writers Plot Bookshop.
I cannot and will not apologise for doing my job by creating characters that are believable and that people love. I love them too.
Don’t ever forget that authors are heavily involved with their characters, they know them better than anybody, they live with them day in and day out. To assume that an author is cavalier with their characters lives is ignorance. Not everything goes the way an author wants or expects, and not everything goes the way a reader wants or expects. That’s life, my friends. But in this case, the end is the end. It was always going to be final.
To berate an author for making you care as a reader … now, that’s just weird. 🙂 But thank you, because I’ve been smiling all day.
To tell an author you will never read anything else they write because a book didn’t go the way you expected … fine, don’t. It’s you that misses out on a new batch of characters and some down home New Zealand fun. I don’t miss out. The new characters don’t miss out.
But, also, thank you for telling me I am a powerful writer and I am delighted you enjoyed Ellie’s world.
FYI: [Lure the lie] is a branch of the same world, as in, Dave Crocker was last man standing in Vaporbyte and is part of the cast in [Lure the lie].