May 3, 2017

Five years.

In case you were not aware, CITY OF MIRACLES came out this Tuesday.

It’s a very long time coming. My records show I wrote the first page of CITY OF STAIRS on April 30 of 2012.

When I did that, my son looked like this:

Now, almost five years to the day later, he looks like this:

It is very odd to have a project that tracks time in such a fashion. Children function like clocks, when it comes to time on a larger scale: by changing so rapidly, they let you know that, even though it feels like I wrote STAIRS just last month, it was actually a very long time ago indeed.

Things change. That’s what I write about a bit over here on Unbound Worlds, on my feelings about finishing a series.

Writing this book was a tremendously odd experience. I’ve had an idea of what would happen for over three years now. Three years is a very long time to shut the windows, lock the doors, put out the lights, and say goodbye. Almost half the lifespan of this series, writing-wise, was spent devoted to its ending.

But I did not completely understand how it would end until I was about a quarter of the way in to Miracles. I was in a hotel room, alone and missing my family, and I found a song I liked, and I listened to it over and over and over again. Specifically, I liked how the song was about a singer promising a girl that he would stay, and be with her; and though the words sound like he means it, there’s a sudden, slight dip into a minor key in the refrain, right at the words, “for a while.”

And then you know he’s lying to her. He doesn’t want to leave, but he’s going to. It’s a subtle yet deeply fatalistic moment.

And it was as I listened to this song that I realized I knew how the book was supposed to end. In fact, I’d always known, but hadn’t wanted to admit it. It was a surprisingly unpleasant and surreal experience. It was a bit like waking up one morning and filling out a lot of insurance paper work, and writing a lot of letters to be mailed, and taking care of your business, and then putting on your nice clothes and getting in the car, and it’s only once you’re on the road that you suddenly realize that you are, in fact, about to commit suicide, and have actually been planning this for a very long time, but have hidden your own intentions for yourself just to be polite about it.

That is an odd way of putting it. But it captures some of the truth of that feeling.

Those who have already finished the song will probably find some of the song’s words familiar.