Endings and Beginnings

Today was Publication Day for IN THE SHADOW OF LAKECREST, a book I spent years writing and rewriting and rethinking and agonizing over (in typical writerly fashion). And as thrilled as I am to have it out in the world at last, it’s not like today was all that different from many other days: I still had to drag myself out of bed to get my kids breakfast; I puttered around the house, thinking of all the things that needed to be cleaned/thrown out; I read a few chapters of the mystery book I fell asleep over last night; and I ate a fast-food lunch in my car while running errands. (Ah, the glamorous literary life!)

This is the start of LAKECREST being out in the world, but it’s also an ending of sorts. The book is now out of my hands: no more rewrites, no more discussions about the cover or title….it’s done. And that’s pretty liberating, especially since I’m now consumed with finishing up my next book (which I’ll get into another time).

The thing is, when it comes to books, I’m all about the ending. A great ending will make me love an otherwise OK book; a lame ending will overshadow an otherwise great book. One of the all-time great endings, for me, was ATONEMENT, by Ian McEwan. It had a twist I did not see coming at all, and it wasn’t one of those twists that are there just to be shocking–it genuinely moved me. I remember having to sit and process that ending for quite a while afterwards.


Another memorable ending was IN THE WOODS, by Tana French. I raced to the end of that book, wondering how she’d tie up all the storylines, only to find out….wahh?? I won’t give it away, but let’s just say, not everything was resolved. I was mad at first, and then I went back and re-read whole sections, and eventually I forgave Ms. French, because her writing is just too great. I had a similar experience with THE LITTLE STRANGER, by Sarah Waters: adored the book,  raced through it, got to the end and couldn’t believe that it wasn’t all neatly explained. A hour or so later, having disappeared down the Internet rabbit hole and read dozens of online discussions, I realized that there was a solution hidden there all along….which held up when I re-read the book a few years later.

I rewrote the endings of WHILE BEAUTY SLEPT and IN THE SHADOW OF LAKECREST multiple times, trying to meet my own “great ending” test. Not sure if I succeeded or not, but I’m happy with the choices I made. And I’m thrilled that LAKECREST is out at last…my own version of a happy ending.



  1. Charlotte69 on February 2, 2017 at 3:18 pm

    Hi Elizabeth, I’m reading Lakecrest now and really enjoying it. I’m a sucker for gothic/noir/Hitchcockian shades and your characters feel fresh. There’s the little homage to Rebecca in the beginning, but then very different. As for endings, I tend to enjoy ones that kind of taper off with no real big twist, though I like a twist in the middle. The taper off feels less manipulative to me. One of my favorites is from The Great Gatbsy, and even that I found a tad much. Anyway, just wanted to say hi. (Btw, we both went to J-School.)

  2. Elizabeth Blackwell on February 2, 2017 at 9:00 pm

    Thank you, fellow J-school grad! Happy you picked up on the Rebecca reference (love both the book and the movie). Good point about sudden twist endings feeling manipulative…they definitely can be, when they’re more about being shocking than advancing the plot or revealing character. Will keep that in mind during future reading!

  3. Sharen Stennett on April 22, 2017 at 3:50 pm

    Just finished your book so had to check and see what else you have written. Superb ending. You accomplished what you wanted to. Keep writing!

  4. Elizabeth Blackwell on April 28, 2017 at 12:05 pm

    Thanks so much–glad you liked the ending, too.

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