Over the next week, I'll be writing a short series of blogs regarding the upcoming publication of The Long and Winding Road, the last book in the Bear, Otter and the Kid series. This is Part 1.
Imagine, if you will, writing to one of your best friends, telling her that you had questions about what happens to a woman's body during pregnancy and birth.
Luckily for me, my friends have come to expect such things from me, and author S.A. McAuley didn't even blink. In fact, she was ready.
And then proceeded to tell me things that I never knew existed, and never wanted to hear about ever again. (Episiotomy? Holy fucking god.)
The reason that I needed her to hurt my brain (and prove to me once and for all that women are 100% more badass than I will ever be--I stub my toe and am convinced the world is ending), was simple: I was getting ready to write the last book in the Bear, Otter and the Kid series. And since I'd left them with (rather dramatically, I might say) with twins on the way, I knew like any story where I didn't know enough about a subject, I needed to research it until I got it right.
Full disclosure: I am not...big on stories about babies and such. I am not exactly...fond, of children in real life. A lot of times in fiction, it seems as if kids or babies are used as props to tell a story, and it bugs me. Besides, happiness doesn't need to be married and living in the suburbs and having kids, right? Many couples don't go that route.
But Bear and Otter do. And it's mostly because of Otter.
Look, I'm not going to lie: I really think Otter got the short end of the stick in the first three books. Yes, he was stalwart and kind and amazing and awesome and sexy and just the bee's knees, but what he wanted was often put on the back burner for what Bear and the Kid needed. Granted, both of them were a little screwed in the head (for obvious reasons), but still. Otter bent over backwards for two people who he loved and was loved by in return, and maybe sometimes he didn't get the same amount that he gave.
I wanted to correct that in this final book. Much of the motivation, the plot in a sense (more on that later) comes from what Otter wants. And the point Bear realizes it is a big moment for him as a character. Because Ty--who can be a manipulative little shit--is about to have his own life. Bear has sacrificed a whole hell of a lot for him. And it's time that Bear focus on his life outside of that, specifically Otter.
Which is why The Long and Winding Road is Bear and Otter's story. BOATK was about all three of them, as was Who We Are. The Art of Breathing was about Ty. I wanted this last book to be about Bear and Otter specifically. Oh, sure, everyone else plays a major part, the Kid too, but it is more focused on Bear--and in turn, Otter--for a reason.
I've discussed previously how the book is divided into three parts: Past, Present and Future. I was a little wary about the Past part, knowing it would be covering some old ground. I am always hesitant in doing such, and honestly, get a little annoyed in books where I read one POV, and then another POV that retreads the first.
Which is why I was very careful with how the Past is written. I didn't want to re-write The Art of Breathing from Bear's POV. Readers already knew most of what happened there. Retreads bore me, and I know they can bore a reader. So while there will be some familiarity, you will not be reading The Art of Breathing Part 2.
And speaking of familiarity, there is the idea of nostalgia. I was very aware going into this last book about what had come before. I worried about relying too heavily on nostalgia for the sake of having it. It's all well and good, but it shouldn't be allowed to overtake a story in a series. It won't give it enough to stand on its own, and would read like a 350 page epilogue, which isn't what I wanted for this book.
The BOATK series is relatively plotless, if you think about. There is no over-arching plot. They are more slice of life, meandering to the highs and lows. There is a point I wanted to get to with this last book, but I allowed myself to take my time getting there, much like I did with the previous books. That being said, The Long and Winding Road is the shortest of the series. The first book was 120K or so, the second 130, and the third around 150K.
The Long and Winding Road (while still long by MM standards) comes in at 112K words. But every single word was lovingly placed, because this is the end. This is my long goodbye to these characters who have impacted me so much
In Part 2 of my Saying Goodbye series, I'll talk about that impact.