So, I'm just starting on the sixth -- and final -- book in my Underworld Detection Agency series when my agent sends me a benign little email, "BTW, forgot to ask: how are you feeling about ending the series? Happy? Sad? Somewhere in between?"
I had decided long ago to end the series on the sixth book, which will finish the natural arc the characters have been on for the past five. And in those past five I have pulled my hair out, swore up and down that I'd never write another series, wistfully dreamed about all the story lines I could write and molest once I wasn't tied to a town, a gang, a particular food choice (Sophie is a sucker for chocolate marshmallow pinwheels). But now that it's here... I'm not happy. I'm not sad, either. I'm somewhere in between, suspended in that "my children will never leave me" headspace, yet terrifyingly aware that in 70,000 short words, I'll have to type the two I'm beginning to dread: The End. Because it will be the end.
And I'd like to be all adult and philosophical and say something worthy of engraving or bellowing in impassioned speeches like, "A character, once inscribed, will never die!" But I'm hardly the bellowing type.
I also know that I've fallen in love with characters well past their prime -- like Anne, who had been in those Green Gables a good 75 years before I cracked that spine, and good ole' Freddie and Flossie Bobbsey who were probably tossing one back at their local while I was engrossed in their Red, White, and Blue Mystery (vol. 64).
But it's still hard to let go. I love answering fan questions about Sophie -- who she'll end up with (it happens in books six!), will she ever catch a break (not likely), will she ever look like the chick on the covers? (in her dreams). I like hearing, "Will would be so happy with the way Arsenal played today," and, "Steve the troll reminds me of my boss!" I know Sophie and the gang will live on -- literarily, through the series, and live actionally (no, seriously, they're totally words.) with the new web series based on Vlad's early adventures. (check out the UDA Channel on YouTube!)
I would love for someone to fall in love with Sophie's misadventures 20 years after the fact. I hope that I've created characters and story lines that connect with readers now and years from now. And for everything I write after the Underworld Detection Agency series, I'll have to thank Sophie for. I cut my fangs on the Underworld and if it weren't for that series, I wouldn't be able to crack open a new book, start a new series, turn the page in a new genre.
I'm still not sure if I'm happy or sad, but I am satisfied that Sophie and the UDA will end on a high note with a great adventure. And I'm happier still that we'll go out with a good title, never having to resort to the lowest common Under denominator -- Under Wear.