Join Prism Book Alliance® as Kelly Jensen goes Outside the Margins today.
The end of a story is always a bittersweet moment, for the writer and the reader. Even when the tears are happy, there’s a sense of loss now that the story is done. As a writer and a reader, I will often reread the last page or last paragraph, just to put off getting to the end. Sometimes it’s just that hard to say goodbye.
Last night (being the night before I wrote this post) I sat at the dinner table barely able to eat. I’d just finished reading the third book in a trilogy that had consumed my attention for some time. I felt a little stunned. It was over, and while it had been a good ending, I was in mourning not only for the characters that didn’t make it to the end, but for the characters I’d just said goodbye to. The book was Ship of Destiny by Robin Hobb and if any of you have ever read her books, you will probably understand what I was going through. Some call it a book hangover. To me it feels more like a rude awakening. As if I’d been asleep having the best dream and someone woke me up.
Writing can be like that. When I’m lost in a scene, I can be so caught up in the thoughts and feelings of one of my characters that the world around me ceases to exist—until I have to come back. Even then, I carry those voices in my head for the rest of the day, week or month as I look forward to the next scene, the next book.
One of the most emotionally devastating moments of my writing life was when I wrote the last post for a character I had been roleplaying for three years. I loved Andy probably more than was healthy. I saw him through some of the most painful years of any young life—age nineteen through twenty-one. His heart was bruised, broken, mended and filled. His pride was bent into more shapes than a pipe cleaner. Throughout it all, however, Andy remained true to himself. Writing him was one of my most rewarding experiences to date. But with a publishing contract in hand, I didn’t have the time to keep writing him. Also, he’d reached that natural point in every fictional life where it was time for me to let go and let him live happily ever after. So my partner and I wrote a picnic for him and the love of his life and I said goodbye. I cried so hard writing the last post I couldn’t see the monitor. I hurt for days afterward.
Since then, I’ve had a few more tearful goodbyes, but none has been as much a relief as writing that final chapter of Felix and Zed’s story in Phase Shift (Chaos Station #5). I thought I’d be a mess by the time Jenn and I got to the end, but I wasn’t. I did type my last scene with a feeling of melancholy, but I figured that at that stage, we weren’t quite done. We still had revisions, developmental edits and line edits to get through. I’d be writing more Felix at each of those stages, even if it was just a couple of lines.
By the time Phase Shift got to the copy edit stage—which is where you have to mostly sit on your hands and say what’s done is one—I was more tired than anything else. Jenn and I had written five novels in fifteen months. In addition, I’d written another two novels, five novellas and a number of short stories. I was more than tired. I was exhausted.
But now, as I write this post (two weeks before the release of Phase Shift), I’m sad. In two weeks, it will be over. Officially. For some reason, I’ve been holding onto my grief until now. I’ve been waiting for this moment—the impending release of the last book in the Chaos Station series—to say goodbye. It hurts. These guys consumed nearly two years of my life—and Felix is still one of the loudest voices in my head. I love this guy.
I put a lot of myself into all of my characters. It’s the only way I know how to write. To be them, to travel with them, to feel with them. They’re my children, in a way. But they’re also me, and so I took this five-book journey with Felix. I fought with him along the way—when he wanted to do things that I didn’t understand. I cried with him when he was in pain—mental and physical. I fell in love with Zed right alongside him. Writing his thoughts about the man he idolized and adored was always easy, even when he needed to be snarky and snarly. Now, he’s found his happy ever after and it’s time for me to let go.
We could write the continuing adventures of Felix and Zed for years to come, but when I look back over their journey to this point, I’m glad we won’t be. Not because I’m tired or sad, but because more than anyone else I’ve ever written, Felix deserves to rest in peace. He’s a fighter, for sure, and he’s going to continue to test the patience of Zed, his crew and the galaxy. But it’s time for him and Zed to move on to the next stage of their lives unguided by us. And it’s time for me and Jenn to move on to the next project.
Phase Shift releases today, so I’ll be celebrating as I say goodbye. It took us five books to tell the story of Felix and Zed and now that it’s done, I can look back with pride and a huge sense of accomplishment. We did it, and I believe we did it well.
I hope readers agree. 🙂
Read on for the cover copy and a short excerpt!
Title: Phase Shift (Chaos Station #5)
Author: Kelly Jensen & Jenn Burke
Publisher: Carina Press
Publication Date: 05/02/2016
Cover Artist: Carina Press
Genre: Action/Adventure, Gay, Gay Romance, Science Fiction
Book five of Chaos Station
Zander and Felix’s relationship has always pushed boundaries—personal and professional alike—but their love and commitment is stronger than ever. So strong that Zander’s ready to ask commitment-shy Felix the question of a lifetime when he’s interrupted. The Chaos is being hacked, and crucial, top secret information about the project that created Zander—and his fellow super soldiers—has been leaked.
Neither man could have expected the enormity of what’s discovered at the end of the data trail: an entire colony of super soldiers run by the very doctor who changed Zander’s life forever. And now she needs them both—Zander to train her new crop of soldiers, and Felix’s new crystalline arm to stabilize their body chemistry.
With help from the unlikeliest of allies, Zander, Felix and the Chaos crew must destroy the project and all its ill-gotten information. But when the team is split up and Felix is MIA after a dangerous run, galactic disaster is a very real possibility…and Zander may have missed his chance to ask for forever.
Felix slapped his neck for the tenth time in a minute and felt something squash beneath his fingers. “Got you, motherfucker.”
But not before the dead bug had bitten him. The warming itch on the side of his neck was just one reason Felix hated planets. In less time than it took for another bug to find his neck, Felix counted several other annoyances: the water swallowing their ship, the smothering darkness, the whisper and hiss of whatever lurked under the cloak of night, and the absolute fucking lack of information about their environment. They could breathe, but the air smelled and tasted weird. Air shouldn’t have a flavor.
“Tides go back out, right?” When Zed didn’t answer right away, Felix nudged him with his boot. Zed jerked and smacked his lips. “No sleeping,” Felix grumbled.
“You need to tell me about tides. And fire. Then you can take a nap.” Felix aimed the meager light of a holo into the chittering darkness of night and wondered if he was brave enough to go looking for something to burn.
“Best thing we can do tonight is stay close and make a lot of noise,” Zed said. “We’ll scout the area when it’s light again. As for the tide, it depends on the moon.”
“This planet has three satellite bodies.”
“We know at least one of them is exerting a gravitational force.” Zed shifted in the near darkness. “Why do you want to know about the tides? Even if the tide goes back out, you don’t think you can repair the Apex Rapere, do you?”
Felix considered the muted glow of his crystalline fingertips. He could make small tools. Repair tools, not ship-salvaging tools. “I’m good, but not that good. No, I was thinking we need more gear. Some more protein bars, water pouches and maybe a hidden stash of Mendo.”
“Wrist doesn’t hurt much.”
Ignoring the lie, Felix chose a direction and peered into the darkness. “I wonder if that energy signature was a settlement. Maybe they saw us go down?”
“Not sure I want to run into the kind of people who choose to live in uncivilized space.”
Felix turned back to the vague shape of Zed and leaned in to bump their shoulders together. “I’m supposed to be the pessimistic one.”
“I was trying for humor.”
Wrapping an arm around Zed’s broad shoulders, Felix encouraged him to lean forward, into his lap. “Why don’t you try for that nap now? I’ll keep watch and see if I can do something with the comms equipment I saved.”
Zed nestled his head into Felix’s thigh with a deep sigh. “You know, the tide is a good thing.”
“Do I want you to explain that?”
“It’ll hide all traces of our crash.”
“Still trying to find the good in that.”
“Think about why we’re here, Flick. The data trail? This isn’t a chartered planet. There shouldn’t be anyone here, settlement or otherwise. But there is.”
About Kelly Jensen
If aliens ever do land on Earth, Kelly will not be prepared, despite having read over a hundred stories of the apocalypse. Still, she will pack her precious books into a box and carry them with her as she strives to survive. It’s what bibliophiles do.
Kelly is the author of a number of novels, novellas and short stories, including the Chaos Station series, co-written with Jenn Burke. At lot of what she writes is speculative in nature, but sometimes it’s just about a guy losing his socks and/or burning dinner. Because life isn’t all conquering aliens and mountain peaks. Sometimes finding a happy ever after is all the adventure we need.
You can chat with Kelly on Twitter @kmkjensen or visit her blog at http://kellyjensenwrites.com where she rambles on about anything and everything.
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