Tim Downs Blog The Official Blog of Author Tim Downs

14Sep/09Off

Can’t Make Up Your Mind? Neither Can I.

SPOILER ALERT! THIS POST DISCUSSES THE SURPRISE ENDING OF ENDS OF THE EARTH! READER BEWARE!

The official release date for Ends of the Earth isn’t until tomorrow, but comments are already coming in about the surprise ending and the way the story should be resolved. It only seems fair that I should get to take part in this debate, so I thought I’d fuel the fire by throwing in a few comments of my own...

Okay, go ahead and say it: “What do you mean, ‘take part in this debate’? You already know how it comes out!” It might surprise you to know that I don’t. The question I’m most often asked about this story is, “Who does Nick marry?” as though I’m guarding the secret but refuse to tell anyone else.

The truth is, I’m not sure who Nick was proposing to—yet.

One of my jobs as a writer is to set up tensions in my story that are resolved by the end in a (hopefully) satisfying way; the greater the tension, the more satisfying the resolution. If the brilliant Nick Polchak vanquishes a bad guy who’s little more than a moron, where’s the satisfaction in that? No, Nick’s nemesis has to be his equal—even his better in some ways. In the same way, the two women vying for Nick’s attention had to be equals, and it was my job to balance Kathryn and Alena so that each would be a sympathetic favorite and each would have a legitimate claim to Nick’s heart.

I did a good job.

So good, in fact, that I’m not sure who I would vote for. But in a way it doesn’t matter, because as a writer I’m forced to look at characters in a different way than you do. I have to think of them as tools and consider questions like: What can I use them for? How do they work together? What can I create with them, and how long would they last? You might think that taking this god’s-eye view would make things easier, but it doesn’t. Kathryn and Alena are both good tools, and I could spin a lot of fascinating tales with either one.

So help me out here. One woman might make a better wife, and the other might make a better partner—but which one would make a better tool? Think like a writer for a minute…Which character do you think has the greatest potential for the future?

Comments (31) Trackbacks (0)
  1. I don’t think Nick is ready to marry anyone. It would hamper the plots of future novels that were written about the bug man. I also am waiting for the next bug man novel. Don’t make me wait too long! Really enjoy reading about the situations he finds himself in and how he uses his zany personality and bug knowledge to get himself out. Thanks for Nick Polchak!

  2. I want him to marry Alena. She is smart and can really work with him. A great pair like the Donovans. He’ll like the dogs they get bugs on then!! I love these characters. I love the science and the way you give a little of the gospel of our Lord. Way to take a stand for Jesus who am sure loves your novels as well. All talents comes from the great creator.

    I have read Shoo Fly Pie and First the Dead. I just this moment finished Ends of the Earth and now I am opening the Head Game.

    Keep writing and I can not wait for the book with the married couple Alena and Nick.

  3. SPOILER ALERT! THIS COMMENT DISCUSSES THE SURPRISE ENDING OF ENDS OF THE EARTH! READER BEWARE!
    I just finished reading the book and I agree with Julie. I like Kathryn and Callie, but I love Alena. I think she will definitely make much fun for future reading. I loved the dogs also. I hope she will find others to replace the two big black guys who were shot and thank you that you didn’t kill off Phlegethon too! That would have been too much. I have Plague Maker by my chair waiting to read it. I’ve read all the other “Bug Man” books. I’ve loved all of them even tho’ some were a little graphic! UGH!!!

  4. SPOILER ALERT! THIS COMMENT DISCUSSES THE SURPRISE ENDING OF ENDS OF THE EARTH! READER BEWARE!
    Alena all the way. All Luke P’s reasons apply. Plus: Alena’s dialogue is too much fun to pass up. She’s had a lot of practice training dogs, that should put her in good stead for Nick training, but he’s just stubborn enough to let nothing faze him. I think Kath and Callie could even still show up from time to time, but Alena’s got a greater chance to be more heavily involved in the cases. Nick needs blunt; Alena can do blunt.

  5. SPOILER ALERT! THIS COMMENT DISCUSSES THE SURPRISE ENDING OF ENDS OF THE EARTH! READER BEWARE!
    I vote for Alena for the following reasons:

    -She went after Nick and made it clear she loves him. Nick is completely clueless when it comes to women (like me, but about ten times worse), and thus Nick would choose Alena

    -It would be very fun to see Nick trying to deal with all those dogs, and Alena’s character is much too good to lose from the story. She’s a lot more dynamic than Kathryn.

    -You can eventually have a kid (or more) in the Alena plotline; you will forever loose the aspect of the dogs if you go with Kathryn.

    -Kathryn and Nick are just too opposite for it to work out well. They’d just end up annoying each other in the end. Also Callie would be quite hard for Nick to manage (especially without Alena around).

    -I imagine Alena would be much more understanding and forgiving of Nick’s quirks than Kathryn as Alena is a bit quirky herself.

    -Kathryn and Callie are necessitatively passive characters unless the bad guys are constantly going after them. That will get redundant real quick. Alena’s character, on the other hand, is naturally active, as she works in the same field as Nick (forensics) and thus will much more naturally fit into Nick’s adventures.

  6. SPOILER ALERT! THIS COMMENT DISCUSSES THE SURPRISE ENDING OF ENDS OF THE EARTH! READER BEWARE!
    Question about your writing process-
    So you haven’t decided who he was proposing to, what comes first?
    Do you have to make a decision before starting your next book or can you put the major components of the book into place before deciding which woman (if either) becomes his partner?

    • I’ll definitely have to decide before the next Bug Man story begins. I always work out all the plot details before the writing ever begins, and Nick’s choice is a fairly significant plot element!

  7. SPOILER ALERT! THIS COMMENT DISCUSSES THE SURPRISE ENDING OF ENDS OF THE EARTH! READER BEWARE!
    As soon as I read the ending, Nick’s role as a father came to my mind and I couldn’t let go of that. After reading about considering which would be a better tool I decided my vote is for Kathryn. I think you could go far with Nick as a husband and father, but that doesn’t mean it was easy to say No to Alena. As another reader said, she stuck it out, and her relationship with Nick was more developed in the book as far as dates and such. Still, I’m sticking with Kathryn. Nick would do better living with a child than a bunch of dogs :). I also think he needs someone to balance him….bring out his human side a bit. So for what it’s worth that is my opinion. I can’t wait to see what happens!

  8. SPOILER ALERT! THIS COMMENT DISCUSSES THE SURPRISE ENDING OF ENDS OF THE EARTH! READER BEWARE!
    I picked the Alena ending because she is the only one of the two whom Nick wouldn’t ultimately hurt very badly. She’s tougher and more like him than Kathryn. And the dogs might help keep him focused, more than a child.

  9. SPOILER ALERT! THIS COMMENT DISCUSSES THE SURPRISE ENDING OF ENDS OF THE EARTH! READER BEWARE!
    Mr. Tim, it has to be cadaver dog woman for the bugman. Alena is as interesting as Nick, I agree with Melissa that she could carry a book on her own, but please don’t let her. You surely knew that when you sent Nick to “the ends of the earth” in Less Than Dead to save Alena that you had created the perfect mate for the bugman.

  10. SPOILER ALERT! THIS COMMENT DISCUSSES THE SURPRISE ENDING OF ENDS OF THE EARTH! READER BEWARE!
    Alena’s the better tool. She has a more diverse, quirky personality. She’s like Nick in a lot of ways, but different enough that it’s not just two characters with two different obsessions. She’s got the independence and determination to handle Nick. Her dogs could also be used in Nick’s work. The one problem I see with her is the possibility of routine. While her dogs are great, it could easily become a predictable ‘requirement’ and those tend to show a lack of imagination. Additionally, the wit between the two could become predictable and loose it’s charm.

    There are some good things that Katheryn brings, especially with Callie. Callie could go a long ways in helping Nick with his transition into the human species. However, Katheryn’s going to have to show some growing and flexibility in her relationship with Callie for me to really want to follow her character. I didn’t find Katheryn’s character, by itself that interesting. There could be some good scenes between her and Nick over the bugs, but other than that, she’s not multidimensional enough to keep me interested in her character. I would eagerly read a book that only featured Alena, with no Nick. She’s diverse enough to carry a book. I’d probably read one with Katheryn and Callie, but it would not be a pre-order sit down and read now. I’d check it out from the library.

  11. SPOILER ALERT! THIS COMMENT DISCUSSES THE SURPRISE ENDING OF ENDS OF THE EARTH! READER BEWARE!
    I’ve read just about all your Bug Man books. I’ve been a been a fan ever since ShooFly Pie and I read PlagueMaker (I do love the Nathan Donovan cameos in the Bug man series). My opinion is that Alena would be a better person for Nick because In my opinion she totally ‘gets’ Nick, better yet, she speaks Fluent Nick. Nothing against Katheryn, she’ll keep Nick in line, but Alena just gets Nick. and I agree with Nathan. his wife Macy would love to hear about this. In fact I would love to see how she would react to this. Keep writing Mr Downs, and I’ll keep reading. maybe you could write another Nathan Donovan/Macy Monroe story. I liked PlagueMaker like I said.

  12. SPOILER ALERT! THIS COMMENT DISCUSSES THE SURPRISE ENDING OF ENDS OF THE EARTH! READER BEWARE!
    I agree with Shauna; Nick is not ready yet. After reading Less Than Dead, I thought Alena was the best match for Nick (unless you bring Riley back from the dead!), but her character was not consistent in this book. She came out of her mysterious shell too quickly and was too forward for a woman who didn’t want to be seen in public a few months ago. Either way, Nick has only known both of these women for a couple weeks- and it was years ago in Kathryn’s case. That isn’t enough time for him to sort through “being human.” But please, whatever you do, please…not Beth!

  13. SPOILER ALERT! THIS COMMENT DISCUSSES THE SURPRISE ENDING OF ENDS OF THE EARTH! READER BEWARE!
    Nick is not ready! I’ve read all of your books and love them – thank you. Who knew entomology could be so exciting. Nick’s quirkiness and sarcastic wit make him fascinating and unique. Truly, I don’t believe Nick is ready to propose to either woman. He needs more time to figure out if he wants to re-enter the human race and, if so, how far he is willing and able to take it. I’d love to see him struggle with understanding who he is and who he wants to be in the future.

  14. SPOILER ALERT! THIS COMMENT DISCUSSES THE SURPRISE ENDING OF ENDS OF THE EARTH! READER BEWARE!
    Yes! I’ve read them all, but don’t remember Bugman in PlagueMaker but since I’ve received it back from “the rounds of family and friends” I’ll check it out. I liked Alena right off for Bugman. No dust settles on her!! And I admit I liked Kathryn also. But Kathryn didn’t pan out (in my mind) as a partner for Bugman, where I was so hoping to see Alena be it. But would Bugman be the same? What about this, what about that? Since I love him to death, I have to give him up for another to love (since he so deserves it) and Alena’s got it, hand down.

  15. SPOILER ALERT! THIS COMMENT DISCUSSES THE SURPRISE ENDING OF ENDS OF THE EARTH! READER BEWARE!
    I have read ALL your books Tim, and loved them — love Nick’s character. I voted that Nick was proposing to both; lol, but it sounds like him. After all, he’s just realizing he’s a member of the human species and not an insect. At this point, I just think he’s having human feelings, and wants to see who responds? Maybe I’m very wrong. If so, I vote for Alena for many of the same reasons above.

    Regardless, I too am finished with Ends of the Earth and ready for your newest book. NOW…please hurry. My friends are all reading the books too; they first thought I was really losing it. Of all things, reading about bugs:-)

  16. I meant to say, you gave me a lot to think about when you spoke of us growing corn for fuel while other countries starve. I would like to save the world but most of the world hates us. It’s two thoughts that fight with each other inside me.

  17. SPOILER ALERT! THIS COMMENT DISCUSSES THE SURPRISE ENDING OF ENDS OF THE EARTH! READER BEWARE!
    I couldn’t make up my mind either. I can’t think straight because I don’t have another Bugman novel to read. Perhaps if you publish them two or three at a time?! I still can’t make my mind up, but if a silver pen were pointed at me I’d say Alena. (LouAnn, my husband has MY pre-ordered copy to read now, too!) Mr. Downs, you simply must write more and faster!

    • You’re sure you’ve read them all? Shoofly Pie, Chop Shop, First the Dead, Less than Dead, Ends of the Earth–and don’t forget the cameo appearance by the Bug Man in PlagueMaker. A lot of people don’t know about that!

  18. SPOILER ALERT! THIS COMMENT DISCUSSES THE SURPRISE ENDING OF ENDS OF THE EARTH! READER BEWARE!
    I’m with Judy, Tim. And in light of how Less than Dead ended, I was surprised to see Alena had to compete at all for Nick. (Review will be up next week on my blog.)

    • Hmm…I wonder if you would feel the same way if you had just finished reading Shoofly Pie? Hey that sounds like a good subject for a blog post! Looking forward to that review, Nicole. Send me the link!

    • I agree, Shoofly Pie was so long ago that it seems like he dredged Kathryn up to fill a position.

  19. SPOILER ALERT! THIS COMMENT DISCUSSES THE SURPRISE ENDING OF ENDS OF THE EARTH! READER BEWARE!
    I agree with Judy! Alena (same reasons) and…. when’s the next book due out???!!!! Hey, I pre-ordered this one weeks ago and waited forever for it! Finished it, passed it on to my husband, and now I’m ready for another one! What can I say? I’m Bug Man’s biggest fan!

    • It’s an honor to meet the Bug Man’s biggest fan. You’ll have to compete with Alena and Kathryn, of course. Terrific, now it’s a three-way race!

      • I am so glad your editor made you give us some type of closer. I didn’t see the right page for a minute and let out a scream of anger, my husband came in to see what was the matter, I thought, how like a man to leave us hanging, whew, I couldn’t get on the computer fast enough. Hurry up and write the next one, please. Thanks for all of the thrills reading the others, I truly enjoy Nick and friends.

  20. SPOILER ALERT! THIS COMMENT DISCUSSES THE SURPRISE ENDING OF ENDS OF THE EARTH! READER BEWARE!
    Alena…definitely! A better tool and a better wife/partner for Nick. I think Nick and Kathryn would ‘frustrate’ each other to death. I’m just looking forward to the next Bug Man novel…don’t care for the bugs, but love Nick Polchak. When is the next book due out?

    • Slow down, Judy! Ends of the Earth has only officially been out for one day! You read too fast–I’m going to have to start using bigger words.

  21. SPOILER ALERT! THIS COMMENT DISCUSSES THE SURPRISE ENDING OF ENDS OF THE EARTH! READER BEWARE!
    I too thought that the shrink would be in the running and have been surprised not to see her return to the Nick novels…..for the present, however, I will choose Alena in that she purposely traveled to and then waited around after she had finished with her work at the NC farm….not only because of her developing friendship with kathryn and her daughter….but also to further her relationship with Dr Polchak. Kathryn has been passive in her pursuit of the prey (I am certain that there are insect species that would better characterize both approaches)!

  22. SPOILER ALERT! THIS COMMENT DISCUSSES THE SURPRISE ENDING OF ENDS OF THE EARTH! READER BEWARE!
    Wasn’t there another woman involved at one point? The in First the Dead that helps out with the natural disasters? I always thought maybe he would end up with her and actually I was sort of hoping she would be the one he ended up with. And I hope this isn’t the last we see of Nick just because he’s proposed. I will miss the Nick adventures if this is the last one. I really enjoy your dry humor and wit. Maybe we’ll see another character somewhat like Nick?

    • You’re thinking of the DMORT psychiatrist Dr. Beth Woodbridge from First the Dead. Then there was Riley McKay from Chop Shop…Nick’s had a pretty active love life for a Bug Man. And don’t worry, no matter what happens you haven’t heard the last of Nick.


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