When I finished the Artifact Hunters, I need a break. I found MOSEH’S STAFF a
really tough book to write and I needed to recharge. Writing ELLA was the mental equivalent of sending my brain to Hawaii for a week, a fun wee romp. It has come to my attention that there are numerous opinions about ELLA, how I ended it and what should have happened.
I thought I would outline what went through my head. If you have something you want to say, please chime in!
There are spoilers in this discussion, in case you haven’t read the book yet :)
Cliffhanger endings are a marketing ploy
I wrote ELLA as a standalone. I never intended it to be a series or to have a sequel. After all, it’s based on Cinderella and there’s no sequel to that. Sure Ella said no to Seth’s marriage proposal, but she’s only eighteen years old. She loves him, but she doesn’t know if she’s ready for the whole marriage and being a duchess thing. She needs time to figure out her life.
Yes, there are unresolved issues (like the two last seen walking down the road) but I didn’t see that Ella had to pursue them to conclude her story. I saw that the main arc of Ella’s journey had come to a conclusion. She stood up to her step mother and got the guy. Yes it is an open ending but I’m not a person to neatly tie up every single loose thread. I like to leave something for readers to chew over, but it would appear I left ELLA a little too open ended :(
This has been the hardest bit for me to get my head around, because to me it’s not a cliffhanger. At the end of ELLA, when I asked readers what they thought about the possibility of doing a sequel, it was never meant as a marketing ploy to trick you into buying another book. Now that someone has pointed out that my question comes across that way, I absolutely apologise. I am trying to figure out how to fix things for readers, which is what inspired this blog post.
Ella would never have done that!
Here’s the other thing that seems to provoke a reaction…
In the original draft, I had Ella intentionally infect Elizabeth but it didn’t sit right with me. Ella wouldn’t do that to another human being, no matter how much she despised her. This seems to be a sore point for some readers, and it’s on me that I failed as a writer to convey just what Ella was going through at that point.
She had a number of high stress situations in a short space of time. Ella went to the ball, confronted her step mother, took back her emotional power, vermin attacked, they found the nest then she gets home to find Elizabeth trying to smother her father. By this stage she is not only physically exhausted, but mentally numb. There’s only so much your mind can process before it shuts down. In that instance, her mind clutched at the familiar and what it knew – being the maid. She had to stop the blood from hitting the carpet. It really was that simple.
Why didn’t she slay them? Because they hadn’t turned. Elizabeth’s infection is running faster but it wasn’t complete. Ella is a slayer, not a murderer. If she had slayed Elizabeth and Louise it would have been murder. She struggles with the work she does for the village and the toll on her soul, she wouldn’t intentionally murder someone and that would have been inconsistent and if she had, imagine the mess on the carpet!
How can I fix things?
Here’s where I need your thoughts, because I honestly don’t know what to do. There are a number of options. I could pull ELLA from sale, rewrite the ending to make her actions clearer, and sit on it until I write a sequel to tidy up all the loose ends. Or I could add a disclaimer at the start that there are unresolved issues.
What do you think? Should it have had a happy, tidy ending? Do you think the story should wrap up in one edition or should I pursue the idea of a sequel?