Saturday, 14 June 2014


This morning, I woke up and changed the end again. I've lost count of the number of times I've proudly told my kids that the blasted book is finally finished (again). Maybe now, it is.

Sara didn't like this original (super-brief) ending as she said it left too many questions unanswered - what happens to the mother; what is the fallout from Sally, and more. In truth, I wrote it in a lazy mood, putting down the absolute bare minimum, so I think she had a point. But the last version I replaced it with was just so grim! I'm still not sure it's OK in a kids' book to kill all the main characters (by wiping their memories). But it was just so logical. Of course the police would go down into the cellar. Of course they would take Frank, Eris and Bobs away for testing to check they were OK and they'd realise they weren't quite human.

But I felt quite sad that we lost the happy resolution, and the message that kids are the ones who will solve climate change (get working kids!). For a while I meant to return some kind of comment about Frank lying on the cellar floor thinking it was bad that they stopped Sally but never mind because Umar and Eris would figure out how to solve climate change, but try as I might, I couldn't find a place to put it without making a mess.

The solution: restore the old ending - just before the real ending - and add a coda.
That’s how it was supposed to end. But the police came and they looked inside the cellar. Then they looked inside us. And what they saw made them afraid.
I love the idea that you think it's over and there's a happy ending. Maybe, like Sara, the reader will feel that not all the questions have been answered. Then we go into the real ending. After the unsatisfying happy ending, reality comes as a shock.

What I also liked about the new ending - apart from how much more real it felt - was the massive outrageous cliff-hanger. It slams all the characters into an abyss from which there seems no way out. I'm still not totally sure if this qualifies as an ending. Does it give closure? It certainly brings Frank full circle back to where he started, trying to be normal.

The last line made me realise, nowhere in the book do I actually describe Frank. In most novels, the writer gives a few clues - even if it is first person, there's the obligatory scene where the main character stands in front of a mirror.

Frank never describes himself. Except for here.
Find me. Show me. You’ll know it’s me.
I’m the one who looks just like everyone else.

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