Yeah, I know. Crazy, huh? With Jack’s audience still growing as more and more readers stumble onto his backlist, and each new title selling more than the last, why end the series?
Because it’s time.
I warned everyone from the start that this would be a closed-end series. I didn’t have a specific number of installments in mind, but I knew where it would end: The series would arc out from The Tomb and terminate at Nightworld. The problem was, I’d already written and published Nightworld. Really, how many writers start a series with the last book already in print?
No problem. I assumed that the warring cosmic forces in the multiverse I’d created in the Adversary Cycle—the faceless, formless, nameless entities known only as the Otherness and the Ally—would not stand idle during the span between The Tomb and Nightworld, and neither would Jack. So why not pit Jack against the Otherness and let them butt heads for a couple of years? It took about a decade and a half of real time to chronicle those few years of fiction time. During that period, Jack co-opted my writing career. Which is okay, because I’ve been having a ball.
Along the way, the arc of that cosmic conflict accrued mass and began to dominate the storylines. Jack changed, mellowing in certain ways due to the love of a good woman and her daughter, becoming downright flinty in others due to the horrors he’d seen and the tragic losses he’d endured.
A slew of arcs rose and resolved, but the big arc, the cosmic conflict, persisted and evolved to the point where it reached critical mass. The story demands resolution.
Sure, I could continue writing novel after novel about Repairman Jack, and lots of readers would be delighted go on reading them. But I wouldn’t be delighted writing them. I’ve seen a favorite series or two go on too long, pushed past their expiration dates by authors deluded into thinking they weren’t repeating themselves, or simply cranking by the numbers to collect a paycheck. Those series suffered as a result, with the later, lesser entries tainting all the great work that came before.
I like Jack too much to do that to him. And to tell the truth, I like myself too much as well. I’ve got some 45 books behind me and more to come, but if any of them are destined to be remembered, the Jack series will be at or near the top of the list (along with The Keep). Right now Jack’s saga is pretty tight and focused. Extra books will do little more than pad the storyline. Why not go out on a high note?
I’ve labeled The Dark at the End the last Repairman Jack novel. Well, it is, and it isn’t. Along the course of writing the Adversary Cycle and Jack’s saga, something called The Secret History of the World took shape. The Dark at the End is the last official Repairman Jack novel in the Secret History, followed by Nightworld, which ends the Secret History (and just about everything else). Yes, Jack participates in Nightworld, but he’s just part of a large cast drawn from across the Secret History. A revised Nightworld is due in May. I will write no fiction set after Nightworld.
But… I’ve agreed to write three novels about Jack’s first years in NYC. The working title is Repairman Jack: The Early Years Trilogy. I’m well into the first and enjoying the hell out of it. This callow Jack is a totally different being from the one we’re all used to. He’s connecting with Abe, meeting Julio and lots of other familiar characters. But after those three books, I’m done. You’ll then know all I know about Jack, and we’ll both be moving on.
But for now, be warned. I did not name the new novel The Dark at the End for the mere hell of it. It’s Jack’s darkest hour. The last time you saw him like this was in Harbingers, and this time he’s got an even bigger grudge.
From the Tor/Forge October newsletter. Sign up to receive our newsletter via email.
More from our October newsletter:
- The Easier Part by Vernor Vinge
- Walking in My Character’s Footsteps by Kiki Hamilton
- A Sneak Peek at Dear Creature by Jonathan Case