I recently read a book by one of my favorite paranormal romance authors. I’d loved everything else she’d published thus far and I knew this one would be no exception. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The entire tale—more than 300 pages—read like a teaser, and I sat on the edge of my seat frantically scanning the pages for the resolution. It never came. The book ended with a giant question mark requiring the reader to buy the next book. Instead of feeling excited to see how the story line would play out, I felt cheated and I had no desire to buy the second volume of the new series.
The “cliffy,” as I keep hearing it called, is a current trend in the genre. Authors seem to be so concerned with readers continuing with their series that they feel it necessary to string them along, forcing them to buy the next book to receive answers. Rather than having a beginning, middle, and end, a story will simply cut off at a suspenseful moment. In fact, it is becoming so prevalent that some book descriptions have begun leading with “This is a standalone novel with no cliffhangers.”
As a reader, I appreciate a glimpse of the direction the next book will go. If the first book has introduced me to a world I enjoy, I either “one-click” the following book or anxiously await its release date. What I don’t appreciate, however, is feeling like I don’t have a choice. I paid for a novel in its entirety. Ending a book with no resolution at all is like having a movie turned off during a climactic scene.
As an author, I begin each book with a story to tell, and I don’t type “The End” until I have finished that particular story. I owe it to my characters; I develop a relationship with each as I write. I owe it to myself to finish the vision I have, the plot that must unfold. But perhaps most of all, I owe it to the readers. They trust me when they take a chance on my book. They trust me to entertain them and tell a good (complete) story, and I feel like ending with a cliffhanger is a betrayal of that trust. Cliffhangers also feel insecure—if an author creates a world and a cast of characters that readers will enjoy, why not trust them to continue their experience?
It’s best to write what you love; that’s why I began writing in the paranormal romance genre last year. I’ve published two novels in my Phoenix Warrior series and each book does have a beginning, middle, and end. The cast of characters remains the same, but each book focuses on a different Warrior and his love interest. I write my books so that someone could pick up one anywhere in the series and it would still make sense, but each complements the others.
The Phoenix Warriors are a group of hunky immortals who are guarding the human realm from interference from otherworldly races. I chose to make my heroes Phoenix because I wanted to do something different than vampires and werewolves. I love stories about both, but I really wanted to try something more unique. These Warriors are literally hot. I hope you’ll give them a try.
Many thanks to Delilah for inviting me to share my thoughts and my books on her blog. I would love to hear from readers. How do you feel about cliffhangers? What about teasers for subsequent books after the end of the previous novel?
About the Author: Karida Clarke is a romance writer with a penchant for anything otherworldly. If it has scales, fur, poisoned talons, throws fire or casts magic spells, it might find its way into her stories. Karida likes her heroines multifaceted and her males swoon-worthy, Alpha-style. She believes that relationships matter more than things and places. In her free time, Karida enjoys lacing up for long runs and cooking ethnic cuisine. Pet peeves include Saran Wrap and people who don’t put their shopping carts away. Karida has an M.A. in English Literature, is a former college English instructor, and currently writes for a small newspaper. She lives with her nerd-tastic husband and two spunky kids in Ohio.