May 28, 2003

Original Ending Of Bitter Waters

While at Balticon, I was met by fans with cries of dismay over the ending of BITTER WATERS. “It just ends!”

I thought I'd explain here...and give fans a chance to see the original ending.

Well, this is one of those ill-chosen moments of writing. I wrote more of a wrap up piece, but it felt like a fake ending to me. When I submitted the manuscript to Laura Anne, she said she had trouble with the ending but didn’t specify what part of it. I was confused. Was it the ending with Core on the boat? Was it the part with Max at the hospital? Was it the conversation between Socket and Hutchinson? There was LOTS of ending. I didn’t rewrite anything while trying to get clarification, because rewriting the last four pages seemed pointless if it was the last forty pages that were the problem. I had like three weeks to rewrite to the revisions letter that Laura Anne gave me, which unfortunately, was in the middle of her most hectic time. Queries of “what don’t you like?” was met with “ummm, I’m not sure now, let me FIND my notes and get back to you.” On the last day or so of my three weeks, when I was growing sick of the whole story anyhow, she got back to me and said “It’s the last three pages. It’s really sappy.”

And it was. I thought like five minutes on this and just deleted them. So…. the book kind of just…ends.

And in thinking about talking about this, I’ve realized I had to step back and talk about the series as a whole, not just BITTER WATERS.

Originally ALIEN TASTE was written as a standalone. I loved the characters, so after I wrote it, even though I moved on to write A BROTHER’S PRICE, I wrote my own fanfic. What if this happened? What if that happened? I collected a folder full of bits, which turned out lucky when ROC asked for a sequel.

DOG WARRIOR was actually going to take place immediately after ALIEN TASTE. When I sat down to consider a real sequel, though, I realized that TAINTED TRAIL would make a much better sequel and would better before DOG WARRIOR than after it. Basically, Ukiah needed to learn about Magic Boy before meeting Atticus. As I wrote TAINTED TRAIL, however, I realized that I needed another book.

The main plot of DOG WARRIOR revolves around an alien drug. I needed to set up where the drug came from in BITTER WATERS. I also needed to give Sam some space to come to Pittsburgh without crowding her out with Atticus. (As it was, I skimped on her in BITTER WATERS too, but at least she gets some scenes.) Lastly, I needed to explore what effect that taking in Little Slow Magic would do to Ukiah in the long run.

So DOG WARRIOR got bumped back another book.

When I wrote BITTER WATERS, at the end I wanted to leave threads to start DOG WARRIOR, but the sappy end was tacked on to resolve the book. Yet the dangling threads were SO looming, that the happy ending that follows seemed wrong. In the rewrite, I moved some of the information into an earlier section to keep the information on the other children that Ukiah rescued.

Original ending:

In summer, on the first night he and Indigo made love, they had walked along the sea of wheat, so close they were nearly touching. Shy and unknown to each other.

The wheat had been shorn to stubble. The night wind now carried the taste of autumn death and the bite of coming winter. And at the edge of Ukiah’s awareness, he felt the Pack’s protective watch.

This time, though, he and Indigo held hands, and Kittanning made them three.

“If he’s too heavy, I can take him.” He offered as Indigo shifted sleeping Kittanning to her other shoulder.

“No, he’s perfect. I just wanted to do this.” Indigo tucked herself under Ukiah’s shoulder. “Children’s Hospital released both children this afternoon. Jonah’s mother is out on probation and regained custody of him and Shiralle’s foster parents have decided to adopt her.”

“Ah, good.” Ukiah shared his good news. “Cally’s gotten over the worse of her jealousy, although I suspect that she would have preferred the puppy.”

“Ukiah!” Indigo cried in outraged tones but then laughed. “I’m sure he made a cute puppy, but I love my little baby boy.”

She kissed Kittanning’s forehead who snuggled closer to her in blissful contentment.

“He loves you very much.” Ukiah translated for Kittanning. “And so do I.”

They came to his treehouse. Indigo reluctantly surrendered Kittanning to him, and climbed up to the lofty platform where they first made love. His son asleep on his shoulder, Ukiah picked his way carefully up the ladder to join her.

There they made a nest of blankets and lay under the night sky, high in the tree branches, just the three of them, watching the stars. It felt very right, despite the night chill. The wind made the branches dance over their heads and leaves spiced with autumn drifted down, kissing them lightly before whirling away into the darkness.

“If only we could stay this way.” Indigo whispered.

Ukiah lifted his hand and pointed out a bright streak passing through the big dipper. Ursa Major. The big bear. “Falling star. Make a wish. It will come true. All you need is faith.”

- The End -

Posted by wen at May 28, 2003 08:03 AM
Comments

THERE'S NOTHING WRONG WITH A LITTLE SAPPYNESS IN A BOOK. THE QUIET AND PERSONAL HAPPINESS TIMES HELP TO MAKE A BOOK MORE REALISTIC.

I NOTICED WITH THE 1ST CHAPTER OF DOG WARRIOR THAT YOU DON'T EVEN GIVE THEM A FULL DAY BEFORE THE ADVENTURE CONTINUES. HOW ARE YOU GOING TO GET THEM FROM PITTSBURGH IN THE MORNING TO ALREADY BEING DEAD BY THE NEXT NIGHT IN MASSACHUSETTS. IT SEEMS LIKE A LONG DRIVE ON A MOTORCYCLE AND THE ADVENTURE STILL HAS TO HAPPEN.

I ADMIT I AM LOOKING FORWARD TO READING MORE ABOUT ATTICUS AND HIS TEAM. I LIKE RU ALREADY.
THANKS FOR THE HINT THAT THEY'RE INVOLVED WITH THE ALIEN DRUG. IS THAT PING IN THE PARKING LOT?
I THINK ATTICUS AND UKIAH WILL HAVE AN INTERESTING ADVENTURE IN THIS BOOK. CAN YOU CONVINCE YOUR PUBLISHERS YOU SHOULD WRITE AT LEAST TWO OR MORE OF THESE BOOKS A YEAR? I'D BUY THEM.

ALI LONGACRE

Posted by: ALI LONGACRE at June 3, 2003 10:05 PM

I hope the wait for Dog Warrior and Atticus will not be long. Your books are fun to read and I hope for more of these books as soon as possible.

Bubba

Posted by: Gubjrg Gslad at June 6, 2003 11:25 AM

I generally don't like Science Fiction. It's too bizarre for my taste; but Dear Lord! I started with Tainted Trail, then had to go back and find Alien Taste. Now, with Bitter Waters reluctantly finished for the year (ten to one I'll be reading the series again a couple times before next May) I realize I am solidly addicted. You have managed to take the few bits of the SF genre that I do enjoy -- the tension, the cutting edge technology -- and meld them into a series that keeps me hooked from cover to cover.

Okay, I know that sounds corny, but so what. I love your books. It can't be said any better than that. I've always had a soft spot for Native American History, and to see it worked so seamlessly into a SF/Fantasy novel is a treat. You have managed to take a culture and work it into your story without butchering the individuals. Yet, you also refrain from drowning the reader in usless detail. Nothing in these books is overkill.

Thank you for such a treat. I longingly await Dog Warrior, and all the books I hope are still to come.

Tara

Posted by: Tara Renae at June 12, 2003 09:08 AM