There is something both satisfying and sad about bringing a continuing story to a close. The satisfying part goes without saying. Authors have the opportunity to tie up loose ends, revisit familiar places, and reexplore comforting themes one last time. Last month I began doing all of these things when I started work on The Mirror, the fifth book in the Northwest Passage series.
In this novel, Ginny and Katie Smith, the 19-year-old twin daughters of Joel and Grace Smith, will travel from 2020 to 1964 and see Seattle at the dawn of the sixties. They'll see the Beatles, the civil rights movement, and a changing culture through modern eyes and find new purpose in an era they knew only from their grandparents' stories.
They will also put a final stamp on a family saga that began in The Mine and continued in The Show -- much like Kevin Johnson did in The Fire, the recently published sequel to The Journey. They will give fresh perspective to a story I have enjoyed writing since starting The Mine two and a half years ago.
The sad part is no less obvious. Ending a story means saying goodbye. In The Mirror, I'll say so long to the extended Smith family, which includes not only the Greens and Vandenbergs of the early 1900s but also the Gillettes and Jorgensons of the rest of the century.
Whether I do the same to the Northwest Passage series is still an open question. Sometime next year, probably in the spring, I'll decide whether to continue the distinctive series with a new cast or start down an entirely new road.
Whatever the case, I will strive to give readers the very things they have come to enjoy in this particular collection: times and places they can explore, themes they can embrace, and characters they'll never forget. I expect to finish the first draft of The Mirror by the end of the year and publish by April 1. Stay tuned.