You know how it is….you’re watching a series on television and you’re hooked. Anxiously awaiting the next episode because you just have to know what happens next! You so love said show, e.g., The Walking Dead, you read anything you can get your hands on about it. You read about Andrew Lincoln (Rick Grimes) you look at cool (could they be anything else?) pics of Norman Reedus (Daryl Dixon) and you hate it when they have that mid-season break, agonising over when it will be on again, checking the TV schedules, finally happily posting on Facebook and Twitter, that there’s just one more week before it starts again!
And then you read a spoiler. By accident or not, it somehow reaches your eyes and you feel a vast vat of emotions:
Rick does what?
Carol kills who?
Daryl puts down his crossbow and takes up knitting? What?????
Part of you is gleeful at having got some secret info, but another part, the writer part, is a little unhappy. You kind of liked the suspense. You kind of liked not knowing where it was going to go. You kind of liked asking yourself, ‘What If?’ Because, hey, that’s a writer’s favourite question.
So what about when it comes to books? There are people out there, hiding amongst us, that when they come to choose a book for purchase, they check out the cover, they read the blurb, maybe the acknowledgements and the dedication and the first page and then they READ THE LAST PAGE OF THE STORY!!!!!!
They do it on purpose. They want to know how the story ends, before they even start reading it properly. To make sure…..what? That it has a happy ending? That it’s not secretly some part of a trilogy and they can’t be bothered to trawl through three books? What is it?
I don’t understand this. To me, a book is the start of an exploration, an adventure, in which you get to delve into the lives of some people and follow them through their life, laughing with them, despairing with them, crying with them, sometimes (ooh, matron!) being with them whilst they have sex! I want to be with them during all of this, I want to feel their pain, their hope, their joy and yes, whilst I do very much want a happy ending, I don’t want to know how that ending will be, until I get there naturally. I still want to be surprised. I want to smile to myself and think, “yes, of course!” or “oh my god, I never expected that!”
I couldn’t possibly enjoy a book, knowing how it ended, before I started reading it. Unless I’d seen it in a film first, for example, but even then, books are often completely different and have more depth than a film. It’s more intimate.
Isn’t reading the last page first, like knowing what presents are under the Christmas tree? Is it about being in control?
So I’d like to know where you all stand on this point. Are you a back-page-reader? Do you have to know without a shadow of a doubt that there will be a happy ending? Or are you like me and enjoy the delayed gratification? The (j-word alert!) journey? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
In the meantime, let me finish by saying, my fourth title, One Life-Changing Night is released on March 1st! It’s my favourite story and stars the delectable Dr Tom Williams. Do take a look and er…don’t read the last page first!