Some endings are sweet.
Some are bittersweet.
Some are tragedies.
Most of my writing, whether it's adventure or horror or romance, has a certain whimsy and optimism about it. But my story in VIOLENT ENDS does not. This anthology about a school shooting isn't about the shooter and the timeline. It's about seventeen different voices, each profoundly changed by Kirby Matheson's gun. You'll notice there are no names on the cover. If you buy it on September 1, you'll see that there are no names on the stories. We wanted it to read as one book with many threads. For once, authorly egos took the back seat to the heaviness and seriousness of the topic. This book is not about the ending... but the journey there.
The thing is, the beauty of a sunset dies in darkness. Not everyone ends summer with a romance and sweat-sticky kisses. For some people, including me, that dead space between terms during high school was a dark, heavy, foreboding time. Don't believe me? Read my story, CATCALL, in Uncanny Magazine. Every instance of catcalling that happened to Maria happened to me, as did the interludes at home. I was depressed. A lot. And during summer, there were long swaths of empty time to contemplate it. Even the summer romances left me in pieces. I never wanted them to end, and yet they did.
That's the hardest part about endings: They are out of your control.
You can't stop the sun from setting. You can't stop summer from edging into fall. You can't stop someone like Kirby, who's decided to take control of their own swan song no matter who goes down with them. Endings hurt because they are inevitable and unstoppable, and they remind us of how very small we are in the world.
Looking back, now, I wish I could send a message through the years: Dear Delilah, an ending is just a beginning waiting to happen. It gets better. Sure, darkness follows the sunset. But a new sunrise happens just after that. You'll have to read VIOLENT ENDS to find out if my character's story ends in a sunset or a sunrise.
This post might read like a downer, but it's also a reminder that sunsets are just something that happens. They have no power to hurt you. You can take a light with you into darkness. And when morning comes again, you get to start over.
I always liked fall better than summer, anyway.
Delilah S. Dawson's next book is VIOLENT ENDS, out September 1.
Find her online at www.whimsydark.com.