Caitlin Kittredge writes both YA and adult books including The Iron Codex series. She is the proud owner of an English degree, two cats, a morbid imagination, a taste for black clothing, punk rock, and comic books. Visit her website at www.caitlinkittredge.com to learn more.
The Finish Line
by Caitlin Kittredge
I read a lot about starting a steampunk story—how to worldbuild, how to create compelling characters, how to mix up timelines and history to make a unique, compelling universe—but I don’t see much about endings.
The last book in my Iron Codex trilogy was released in February and while I’m sad to have the journey end—as any writer would be—I never intended the series to be more than three books. I always had an end in mind, a destination for the journey. I don’t think that’s necessary—some of the best writers I know start with no end in sight and figure it out as they go. But I knew these characters and their world had a single story to tell, and then I’d exit gracefully.
Yet, as I drew to the end of writing The Mirrored Shard, I found myself leaving little things open. Aoife, Dean and Cal get their endings—some happy, some not so happy—and the plot that carried me for three books wrapped up, but I left more ends open than I anticipated. Was I just being wistful? Maybe. But I think it’s a sign that maybe I didn’t say quite all I had to say about the world of the Iron Codex. Maybe there’s a short story, or a novella in my future. I can’t say!
I like little openings for future stories scattered here and there in the natural arc of the story I’m actually telling. I don’t like ambiguous endings. I blame a childhood of serial stories, mostly in comic book form, that led me to be the sort of writer who has to leave a few trails of breadcrumbs here and there for alternate storylines.
I tried to strike a good balance in Mirrored Shard—all the major threads ending where I’d always intended them to. But there’s still one large element left without resolution at the end of Mirrored Shard, and that’s absolutely on purpose. In another time, with another set of characters, this could absolutely be its own series. I’ve only ended one series before the Iron Codex, and since those stories were serial, not really connected, it was very different. The heroine got her ending, the plot wrapped up, and everyone could pretty much go home happy (except the bad guys, of course.) This time, I like to think I was smarter, and left myself with another story to tell, a small door left open to sneak back into this world I’ve devoted close to half a decade to writing in, imagining, dreaming about.
Like I said, maybe I’m just wistful. I love steampunk and Victoriana, so I know I’m definitely nostalgic! But maybe in the future I’ll get another chance to go back to the start with a new set of characters and revisit Aoife’s world, explore that last thread left loose. Loose threads, after all, beg to be pulled and they exist in all of my favorite books. Tantalizing possibilities that, once explored, can lead to brave new worlds of their own.