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bear by san

December 2021



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bad girls helen mirren

What will likely be a spoileriffical comment thread.

There have been requests for a discussion/question thread on New Amsterdam.

So here it is.


And in the first comment, below, I'm going to answer a question regarding my choices about the ending of the book.


A couple of people have asked me a question about the ending of NEW AMSTERDAM, and why it ends the way it does. (And yes, it cracks me up that no matter how a book ends, somebody will complain. Either it's too tidy, or it's not consolatory enough.)

I'm trying not to get too far into the habit of justifying my work here. Either the book stands on its own or it doesn't, and whatever you get out of it is fine. But I was thinking about it on the drive yesterday, and it came to me that this blog is also a teaching tool, and that it might be possible to walk a line between self-justification and explaining the craft decisions that went into what I did.

So the answer, trying to remain as spoiler-free as possible, is that the book ends that way because it illustrates for the reader a specific thing about Sebastien and what he "lives" with. And what he chooses to endure.

And why the rest of the blood do not choose to do that thing.

Because fifteen years or fifty or two hundred? For him, it always ends the same way. Always. And he's been paying that price since before there was a Spain.

And that is why he's tired, children. And that is why Evie did what she did. And why David did what he did, too. Because they, also? Were tired.

One reader listed some alternate possible endings, in a review. It may surprise you to know that I considered every single one of those possibilities. And the story doesn't go that way because those are consolatory endings. They would be comforting.

And it would have been cheating, to write it that way. (In ways that *I* think the ending of CARNIVAL is not cheating--people who think it's consolatory seem to miss the implications of the last line. *g* And the civil war. And...)

And if what happened made you feel angry and helpless? Then I've done my job, because you can imagine some small fraction of how Sebastien felt about it.

I don't write consolatory literature. (I got taken to task at WisCon by a reader for my endings, too--she wanted happier ones.

I can't promise you that. I realize it limits my marketability and my commercial success, but I'm not going to lie.

I'm also not going to promise that every book will have a tragic ending, though, because that's as dishonest as the consolatory ending.

Rocks fall. People die. Life goes on.

Or: After bliss? The laundry.

Off Topic

Have you heard about the "New Amsterdam" TV series?


Re: Off Topic


Nothing to do with me.


It would keep the cat in food for a while if it did....
Got the book on order and I can't wait so I shall avert my eyes.

But I just had to say:


Ahem... Carry on.
*g* She and Marianne Faithfull are the physical models for Abby Irene....
You know, I just finished New Amsterdam last night, and even though I am a happy ever after junkie, I didn't feel that that was such a downer ending. I mean, I would have *liked* A Certain Person to have lived longer, yes, but -- given their personality, their "self-ness", as it were, I felt it was ... satisfactory ... in a way a happier ending wouldn't have been.

That being said, I really really really want more stories about Abby Irene and what happens after the big war!
That was pretty much how I felt about it.

After I spent half an hour wailing "noooooooooooooooo!"

Re: Also off-topic (but also on)

There's also an Elvis Costello song. Which I can even play. Sort of.

As well as I can play anything....
Thank you.

Well, I plan to just frown at it and say, "That was dishonest," and move on.

Bad story.

No biscuit.
it illustrates for the reader a specific thing about Sebastien and what he "lives" with. And what he chooses to endure.

Which is why he's not the monster he could be. In fact, the worst people we meet in this book are human down to the bone, and have no "supernatural" justification for what they do.


Sebastien could be a monster, or he could be like Epaphras. Or like a certain movie star. Or--

But he's not. And he's not even though it would be far, far easier to be a monster.
Not going to read the spoilers yet. My copy just arrived in the post yesterday and I've not had the chance to crack its cover yet. :)
Ooo. Great icon.

I'm sorry, where were we?
Further on our discussion yesterday, since you've reopened it: I don't necessarily have a problem that you did what you did (though it made me sad) but I didn't care for how you did it. Unfortunately, I don't have any time to talk about it, as I really must be getting my revisions done now.

In any case, allichaton has gone and written another post about it (Warning: contains spoilers), so I'll just point you to it. My own sentiments don't line up exactly with hers, but she had time to write a post, and I didn't.
Actually, it is set up. From the very first story in the book.

Again, I think you (and she) wanted consolatory literature. And that's not what I write, and I have never pretended to write it. And I'm not going to apologize for that.

You are entitled to not like what I write. (And I respond to this because you bring it to my attention, not because I think I'm going to change your mind, or feel like I should be trying to. Which is why I am responding to your comment here and not her post there.)

I can only write the stories that are true to my experience.

And no, I'm not trying to project any big moral lesson. I'm just trying to illuminate Sebastien as best I can, and demonstrate my understanding of him and his world, in ways that some people may find useful.

I don't believe in morals. I don't believe in giving answers. I don't have any.

I believe in asking good questions.
Just finished this weekend and have plenty of time to ruminate on it as I didn't bring anything else to read.

I wasn't overly done in by the ending. I liked the book overall. I didn't get weepy about Jack's death for some reason. He was not my favorite character (Abby Irene, I would gladly trade places with Mike!) and I was kind of "enh" about his death. Understood how it went in the grand scheme of things and how it was necessary, but I was not teary. I was afraid Abby Irene would get it and then I'd be a-wailing!


I really liked it overall. I liked the acceleration of the technology combined with the retardation of political things: stable dirigibles in use in the 1890's and the colonies still under British rule then as simultaneously.

I don't really dig contemporary vampire fiction that much, so I was hesitant to get this. But it proved to be such a good read and your characters are so awesome I really got into it. I find something about the sexuality of vampires a little too goffy for my tastes, but then it makes sense when you think about it. There's got to be something about it besides blood keeping you alive.

In the NA world, are all vampires bi?

I had trouble with the narrative in that it seemed to be going along without a certain amount of direction in the middle, though towards the end it made sense as you were building up the stress between Crown and colonies and England and France. I found it an "easier" read than Carnival, and less head-scratching, though.

Okay, now I have to go ask Charlie Stross questions about Missile Gap.
vampire feeding =/= sex. So the bi/straight question is sort of moot. They don't have sex. They sometimes engage in sexual activity to please their human partners.

Thank you for catching the tech/polticis thing. Some of that is Randall Garrett--his 1960 is permanently stalled in the Victorian era.

Re, the middle. Well, it's not a novel. *g* It's a short story collection. The primary arcs are the individual ones in each story, although there's meant to be an uber-arc as well, of course. So I suspect trying to read it as a contiguous narrative is doomed to disappointment....

Thank you!
I tried not to read the spoilers...

I am curious, though. Have you read Island at the Center of the World, by Russell Shorto? (It tells the story of Dutch New Amsterdam and after reading it, I wondered if you had read it as background for the point of divergence)

Nope. *g*