Guest Post: Mazarkis Williams on Saying Goodbye

mazarkiswilliams-thetowerbrokenWhen thinking of a topic to ask Maz for a guest post on, I kept coming back to the fact that they’ve just finished a series and that it means saying goodbye to the characters that have accompanied them for a long time. So I asked Maz the following:

How do you say goodbye?

When you’ve written a series featuring the same cast of characters, I’d assume that some of them become almost friends and companions considering the time you’ve spent with them. How hard is it to say goodbye and move on to the next book or series and a new group of characters? Or do you avoid saying farewell by staying in the same world and group of characters?

Here’s Maz’s answer: 

When you start writing a character at the beginning of a book, it’s like having a baby. There is so much ahead of them, and so many choices they have yet to make, and you don’t know what those choices will be or where it will lead them. They will change and develop and you don’t know how – or at least, I didn’t. (Some authors plan these things ahead, but not me.) You are excited to meet the person that child will be.

Or perhaps you can look at it as a journey. When you start out, there are so many roads to choose, so many turns you could take. You start in one place but you could end up anywhere in the world, and the promise and excitement of not-knowing is exhilarating.

But by the time you begin book three, it’s fairly clear where you are going. You’ve taken certain exits, made certain turns, so that one particular destination seems clear. That is how it was with book three. At that point, I knew exactly how they would end up; I only needed to finish the journey. And getting them there, seeing them home, was exhilarating in its own way.

When you have characters that you love and have tended over the course of three books, you want to give them a good ending. You want to honour the way they have grown. It does not have to be a happy ending, but it does have to be an ending that acknowledges their path and their choices. Anything else would be an insult to the characters and to the readers.

I can see the appeal of writing further books in the same world. The worldbuilding would grow more real over time – eventually you would not even need to think about the name of a certain mountain or the name of so-and-so’s grandfather. You could stay with the same characters and never say good-bye.

But the fact is that all things end. Every life, every song, every story. That is the way of things that also must be honoured. Better to rip off the band-aid after three books than after ten. I love endings because they’re true, but I also hate them for the same reason. It would be much, much harder to say goodbye after a long series.

At the end of The Tower Broken I felt proud of my characters. They had come a long way and grown quite a bit. It was time to let them go to make their own way in their world. This post is full of similes and metaphors but let me go one more in honour of the American Thanksgiving holiday. At some point you have to serve the last course to the meal and know it’s well-prepared and just the right end, the logical end, to the experience. You can’t keep eating forever; at some point you have to serve that beautiful pie. It tastes wonderful, and then it’s gone.

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mazarkiswilliamsBio: Mazarkis Williams has degrees in history and physics, and a passion for cooking and cats. Mazarkis has roots in both Britain and America and now divides time between Bristol and Boston.

You can find Maz on the web on their blog, on Twitter, and on Facebook.

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2 Responses to Guest Post: Mazarkis Williams on Saying Goodbye

  1. Thanks for sharing this, Maz. This might explain why authors keep returning to characters and worlds after their stories really have ended–letting go is hard!

  2. Mazarkis Williams says:

    It certainly can be. Thanks for reading!

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