By the start of last year I'd been thinking for a while that I might round the series off at ten, for a few reasons: as I mentioned in my last post, working at home was sending me a little stir-crazy; I wasn't sure I had many more good story ideas; and I didn't know how long I could make the series last. Plus, I wasn't particularly happy. I loved writing but so much of the rest of the business was taking a toll, because being successful has very little to do with how hard you the author work but is a much more intangible mix of luck, marketing, reader taste, yes hard work, and something else nobody can identify (otherwise everyone would be doing it). This meant that the only thing truly in my power was to write the best book I could, but it didn't stop me (and just about every other author I know) worrying about how to reach more readers, how to sell more, how to keep the books alive. It's bad to fret about things beyond your control and I'd fallen into the rut of doing it way too much. As I said, almost every author I know worries about the same things, so I wasn't alone in that rut, but that made it seem normal, like a thing that authors do, and that didn't help either. I disliked how I felt, and the prospect of feeling that way in the future was awful. I'd worked on changing how I felt, but in the end realised maybe time away was the answer.
Then, around this time last year, I got the heads-up from my agent that sales had been falling and the publisher was considering not taking any more books, then the publisher herself got in touch. The series was no longer financially viable, and they weren't going to offer another contract. I half-heartedly asked about going to ten (it's such a nice round number) but they said no. I felt sad that it was over but also relieved. Plus, while book eight was finished, it was still to be edited, so I could bring Ella's story to a close the way I wanted. A close that would also work as a hiatus, I decided, because feeling finished now didn't mean I'd always feel that way, and I have a big soft spot for Ella and her paramedic compadres and wanted the option to come back to them if I felt like it.
So I worked out the right ending, and book eight, TELL THE TRUTH, was released this February. Reviews have been wonderful. most along these lines:
"It is definitely one of my absolute favourite series as there isn’t a dud in the bunch
and TELL THE TRUTH offers a fitting finale" Fair Dinkum Crime
which I am very happy about. Series bring the fear of jumping the shark, and it's a relief that I seem to have avoided that in the reviewers' eyes at least.
I've received lots of emails from readers who are sad that the series is over and hopeful that I'll write more/something else, and I am thankful to every one. As I said in a note at the end of the book, the connection that books and characters build between author and reader is what I miss most, and it moves me to see you feel the same. Thank you for reading my work over the past eight years.
As for my work now . . . when I was thinking about ending the series at ten, I was also realising I missed working in healthcare. I missed people! So I went back to uni. I have a year to go before I graduate as a registered nurse and I work casual shifts as a care assistant in an aged care facility. I feel good there. Right now I have no desire to write, but when assignments and exams are done with, who knows?