I was talking with a friend the other day, and he admitted that since our last conversation I had blown his mind. What, I wondered, was this amazing thing that I had done?
Earlier in the year he had read my first book: The book with the missing first page. That hadn’t blown his mind, I think he had liked it, but that wasn’t the issue at hand. When we had last chatted, we had talked about the book and he had casually asked about one of the stories, I forget which one exactly, but one of the stories that stops quite abruptly. He said, “it stopped so abruptly, but it’s been bugging me, what actually happened next?”
“Well,” I said, “whatever you want.”
“No. There must be an actual answer. You wrote the story. What happened next?”
“I could make up something,” I said, “but it would only be as valid as whatever you made up. And to be honest I don’t know.”
He’d gone away at the end of this conversation, and thought about it. And now he was back to say, his mind had been blown.
After that, he had gone away and found that everything he had read had seemed more fake to him. As though he hadn’t realised that authors were making up the stories he was reading.
“Surely,” I said, “you knew that authors were making up the stories that you were reading.”
“Yes, of course I do,” he said.
But the part he hadn’t been aware of was the way in which, even in stories which didn’t end abruptly, the author had been controlling his entire expectations of what was going on.
I suppose he hadn’t realised how much he was in the author’s hands. And the way he noticed was to speak to an author for the first time and realise that authors actually don’t always know what happens next either.
So does anyone have any questions? Please ask them, even if you think they sound mad. What they might lead to could be very interesting.