Tim Downs Blog The Official Blog of Author Tim Downs

20Sep/09Off

Men, Women…and Closure

SPOILER ALERT! THIS POST DISCUSSES THE SURPRISE ENDING OF ENDS OF THE EARTH! READER BEWARE!
It’s clear from the comments being posted that you readers have strong opinions about the way you want my novel Ends of the Earth to end, and it’s fun (at least for me) to read well-reasoned arguments on both sides. I can’t resist making a few observations of my own—not about the ending of the book, but what the comments seem to suggest about a difference between men and women...

Larry G. asked in his comment, “Am I the only male to read your books?” Judging by the comments you might think so, since ninety percent of the comments so far have been contributed by women. But my novels are read by just as many men as women—probably more. Why, then, are so many more women than men giving their opinions on the ending of the book?

When I first came up with the idea for the ending, it was my intention to just leave the outcome hanging and let readers wait for the next Bug Man novel to find out what actually happened. My editor—a woman, let me point out—told me in no uncertain terms that I couldn’t do that. She told me that some readers would be furious if I left the story hanging because some readers need more closure than others. I asked her which readers she was referring to, and she told me: women.

We agreed on a compromise: The final page of the novel would say, “I know what you’re thinking…‘It can’t end like that!’ It doesn’t have to. There’s a bonus chapter…but you have to decide what it says.” I showed my 26-year-old son the final page and he suggested this text instead: "I know what you're thinking...that can't be the end of the book. But it is...that's why it says 'The End' after those words there...That's the way life goes, ladies."

Did I mention that he’s single?

It does make me wonder…Was my editor right? Do more women write comments because they have a stronger desire to see the story resolved? Would just as many women have written comments if I had left the crime unresolved? When it comes to relationships, do women need more closure than men?

And will only women reply to this post?

Comments (14) Trackbacks (0)
  1. Ends of the Earth is the first of your books I’ve read. I really enjoyed it. Although I identified more with Alena because of her brutal honesty and independence, I voted for Kathryn because I think she and Callie needed someone to love and be loved by more. I think Nick was growing very attached to Callie, especially in the incident in the cornfield when she was nearly killed. However, I also felt he was clueless enough to ask both women and see which one would say, “Yes.” If it were real life instead of fiction, I would say he definitely was not ready to propose to either woman. I think most women expect romantic conclusion in a novel, but I enjoyed the change and the reader input (although I missed the deadline). I will definitely look for some more of your novels.

  2. I started reading your books a few years back. A friend had loaned me Shoo Fly Pie & Chop Shop. One night I was reading in bed and couldn’t stop laughing. My husband who really doesn’t like to read wondered what I was reading. I read him an excerpt. He was hooked. Since then I have purchased your books. I read aloud to him every night and then lend them to get other people hooked on your writing. My husband’s comment is we need a new bug man novel every two weeks. Thanks again.

  3. SPOILER ALERT! THIS COMMENT DISCUSSES THE SURPRISE ENDING OF ENDS OF THE EARTH! READER BEWARE!
    I don’t what happened to my first comment. Not very comp. savvy. But I love all your books. I think Alena hands down. She will really keep him on his toes.

  4. SPOILER ALERT! THIS COMMENT DISCUSSES THE SURPRISE ENDING OF ENDS OF THE EARTH! READER BEWARE!
    I’m not sure the need for closure a guy vs girl thing so much as a personality type thing. As for acutally hearing opinions, you might get more women to actually respond because this is a good “safe” medium for opinion expression. I was with Alena from the get go because I think she’s a more developed character with much more dialogue options than Kath. She says what most people only dream of saying. It’s very refreshing.

  5. SPOILER ALERT! THIS COMMENT DISCUSSES THE SURPRISE ENDING OF ENDS OF THE EARTH! READER BEWARE!
    I think my dad was more distraught over the ending than me or my mom. I just came to the website and chose my favorite, Alena. As a woman it is important for me to have closure, but I needed more of a closure on the crime than on who he marries. Thanks for all the great books, I have read them all and love them. My favorites have been Chop Shop and First the Dead.

  6. SPOILER ALERT! THIS COMMENT DISCUSSES THE SURPRISE ENDING OF ENDS OF THE EARTH! READER BEWARE!
    I think Nick would be so focused on achieving his goal – proposing – that he would do it without considering how appropriate it would be to offer it in the presence of others.

    I also think that neither Kathryn nor Alena would automatically accept the proposal, especially if made in the presence of the other. Kathryn and Alena have become friends and wouldn’t want to hurt one another.

    That said, Kathryn is the logical choice since she lives nearby and wouldn’t be leaving the life she knows. She and Nick could take time to really get to know each other without a major disruption of her life.

    Alena would give up her homestead to be with Nick, but I wonder if she would eventually regret leaving. I would like to read more about her and see her meet someone perfect for her.

  7. Yay, Michael and Brian. You go guys. Good points both.

  8. Hi Tim, I’m reading some of the books out of order but as a man I loved the relationship that was started in “Less than Dead”. The mystery with Alena was superb and how Nick and her were drawn out was priceless. Keep it up.

    To answer your question on buying vs borrowing vs library. When I like an author enough I buy the books and then I lend them to friends to get them interested in the author too. I have bought all of yours so far and I’m losing track of where they are!

  9. SPOILER ALERT! THIS COMMENT DISCUSSES THE SURPRISE ENDING OF ENDS OF THE EARTH! READER BEWARE!
    Hey Tim, I wasn’t planning to reply, but I realized I would be the first male to do so. Does that mean this reply doesn’t really count?

    I gasped out loud when I realized that you didn’t write about who Nick was proposing to. I was very relieved that you provided the ending chapters on your website.

    I did find it a bit hard to believe that Nick was actually clueless enough to propose to both women at the same time. Geeks pay close attention to details that they feel are relevant and after Nick realized that he was interested in Kathryn or Alena I don’t think he would have made the mistake of speaking to both of them at the same time again.

  10. SPOILER ALERT! THIS COMMENT DISCUSSES THE SURPRISE ENDING OF ENDS OF THE EARTH! READER BEWARE!
    I have read all of the Bug Man novels, and loved them all! As much of a hopeless romantic that I am, I feel very strongly that Nick was proposing to both Kathryn and Alena. He has always had “connections” with women in each book, but each never progresses. He is such a dedicated man to his work that it will always take first place for him. He is so in love with entemology that he would always feel torn between his work and the woman he loves. Because he can’t make his mind up on this balance in life, there’s no way he can make his mind up about which woman he loves for life. he loves them both equally but in different ways. each compliments him in different ways, but each requires a sacrificial love he just can’t find to offer. (although I would like to see him end up with kathryn, I just don’t think he will).

  11. Closure is the name of the game in any mystery. i need to know who dunnit and why and same goes for romance although i think you should have let either one down with more, umm, tact. although we all know nick has no tact. but lemme tell you this, mr. downs i appreciate you being and i appreciate your writing. i love the bug man and so does my mom and my sister. my library, not so much but i am trying to get them online. and i have access to many people (work at a drs office) so i talk about books alot and recommend you often. keep up the great work. you have a fan for life. thanks again

  12. I disagree! An unresolved crime would definitely be a crisis! One of my favorite aspects of these novels is the sense that justice has been served in the end. I also enjoy the tension of Nick’s unresolved romance; it adds to the fun of waiting for the next book to “see how Nick is doing”. But not having closure to the crime? That would be terrible!

    Personally, I like your son’s ending. Whether we wait for the next book or the end of voting for “closure,” anything can happen in that next book for Nick. Closure does not exist in real-life relationships- just different chapters in an on-going saga. Like he said, “That’s the way life goes, ladies.” (And yes, I realize there is not always closure to crime either, but it is SO satisfying when there is.)

  13. SPOILER ALERT! THIS COMMENT DISCUSSES THE SURPRISE ENDING OF ENDS OF THE EARTH! READER BEWARE!
    Undoubtedly women need closure when it comes to romance. Even in your “resolution” chapters, your fictitious women felt there needed to be closure for the other woman they had come to care for and respect. And even in those chapters you still demonstrated your insecurity in absolutely closing the conundrum. I’ll post my review on Wednesday, Tim. And, no, if you hadn’t resolved the crime–it wouldn’t have been a crisis. That kind of cliffhanger leaves it open for future material. But romance–when Nick is doing such a turnabout? No way.


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