Some of this could be viewed as “spoilers”, but it lacks any degree of specificity beyond than “some bad things will happen to some good characters.” You have been warned.
I know this will sound odd. It sounds odd to me as I think about it. A final factor that is slowing my writing is fear of the future. Not the future for me (I already have three or four different ideas for stuff to write when I finish this series), but the future for the characters in my story. I know where my current book is going, and I know where the series as a whole is going. I have painstakingly crafted characters someone can care about, and I have already decided what good and tragic things await them as the tale progresses.
No good story can have triumph without some degree of tragedy, and my story is a good story. In The High King, Lloyd Alexander kills Coll, Math, Llonio, and many others on the path to ultimately separating Taran and Eilonwy from the rest of their friends forever. Tolkien kills Boromir, Denethor, Theoden, and several others before separating Frodo from the Shire he worked so hard to save (and he kills Thorin, Fili, and Kili before that in his “kids book”). Before the final Harry Potter book came out, I told a friend (one of my beta readers – one of two people with whom I have discussed the ultimate outcome of this series) that one or more of the Weasleys would have to die and that it would include one or both twins because that would be a tragic, epic sacrifice. I also said Harry would have to die, so I guess I only get partial credit for my predictions.
Great stories often involve terrible things happening to the main characters, and I will tell you without providing any more specificity that terrible things will happen to some of my characters along their journey. They might involve death, they might involve tragic separations from friends and family, they might involve something else entirely. As an author, this is hard. I am already writing many of these tragic scenes in my head and the compassionate, human part of me wants to hold back. I guess I am like Grover in “The Monster at the End of this Book” – working to hold back something that while seemingly unpleasant, will ultimately make a great story.
I even hinted at this in the prophecy at the end of Book One (for those of you who haven’t read all of Book One I’ll only include the pertinent line of the prophecy): Not all life is victory, not all death is loss.
Will I allow these terrible things to happen to my characters? Yes. Do I want them to happen? No, not particularly. Could I tell the tale I am trying to tell without allowing it? Never. So, I’ll just work hard to make the scenes the greatest scenes they can be.
Book Three has been slowed because in it, some bad things will start happening to some well established and good characters. I won’t say which characters, and I won’t say which bad things, but I will say that there is one song that I hear occasionally on the radio that immediately brings the epilogue of Book Three into my head. My six year old could tell you what “every song on the radio” is about, so that might provide a clue to observant readers, or it might not.