"There is a moment..." - Danie Ware on completing the Ecko trilogy11
The final novel in the Ecko trilogy, Ecko Endgame, is published today in the US and UK. Here is author Danie Ware on the experience of finally closing the door on a story…
There is a moment, at the end of any book, when you lay the fantasy down and come back to reality – sometimes with a bump that knocks the breath out of you. If you’re immersed in it enough, it lives and breathes for and with you, and takes you to worlds beyond your own – we’ve all been there, and blinked at that inevitable sense of loss as we close the last page.
When that book is a trilogy, that loss can be a powerful thing. And when that trilogy is your own, and you finally let it go – you can find yourself reeling.
I have no shame in admitting it: when I finished Ecko, I burst into tears.
Some of those characters have been with me a very long time. They’re personal friends whose voices and lives and attachments are known to me. The writing project alone has been seven years of my life, and many of the characters strayed from RPG days before that. The Banned was created in 1991, in my boyfriend’s front room in Ashford in Kent (every fantasy needs bikers-on-horseback, doesn’t it?) and Ecko himself, originally named ‘Oxy’, came from a CyberPunk campaign that spanned over a decade and some three generations of gamers in various cities across the UK.
Hearing my Audible narrator, Peter Noble, do some of those characters’ voices – Lugan, Fuller, Collator, Mom – was the oddest feeling.
I’m moving house at the moment, in the process sorting and packing my stuff – and every so often I come across notes, written when I very first started on the story that Ecko would become. I have a single side of A4 lavishly detailing Oxy’s first arrival in the fantasy world, in a forest, seeing trees all picked out in moonlight (no, really, it’s absolutely terrible). And I remember presenting this at a creative writing group and Chris Morgan just putting the proverbial Red Pen through it and commenting, ‘The character’s a pyromaniac’.
Little (and very valuable) lesson there about writing to a character’s point of view – not just how you see the scene, but how they do. It did make me jump at the time, though!
From humble beginnings, completing a lifelong ambition is a momentous thing. Those first looks at book covers; those sightings of The Thing What You Made in bookstores and on Amazon… that’s a magic all of its own. But saying goodbye to a pantheon of characters that have lived with you for more than twenty years – that’s one of the hardest things of all. They still haven’t quite left me alone, and of course there’s a fourth book brewing…
It’s time to accept the loss, and step back. For the sake of my sanity, if nothing else, it’s a change that’s as good as a rest, and it’s time to do the next thing. To find some new voices, and a new world for them to inhabit.
Though matching twenty years of backstory is going to be a tough call!