I have some unfortunate news for Full Throttle fans. After months spent re-reading the first four books, making changes to my outline, and writing 85 pages of Never Surrender, I’ve come to the conclusion that this last book is fatally flawed. I had my suspicions since I began working on it in early December, but I made a promise to all of you, so I ignored those feelings of foreboding and tried to force the story. The problem is, the stakes just aren’t high enough. The scenarios I’ve put Jess and Cody in just don’t matter in comparison to what they’ve already been through. Some are implausible, while others seem contrived. If I were to continue writing, all of you would agree the series has jumped the shark.
Stories need conflict in order to work, and to create conflict, you have to torture your characters. It would be hard to top the ways I’ve already tortured Jess and Cody. I’d have to be exceptionally cruel to them, as well as stretch plausibility, to make you believe so many horrible things could happen to these two kids. Furthermore, I left both of them in a pretty good place at the end of Redline. They deserve to continue from there living happily ever after. They’ve paid their dues. I don’t want to hurt them any further.
The thing that makes my stories work is the deep emotional moments shared by the characters. While I could continue with the story on a plot level and have things happen to these characters that might present some challenges, those plot points would not bring forth the opportunity for the emotional satisfaction you found in the other books. In the first 85 pages, roughly a quarter of the book, I haven’t written a single one of those intense moments. If I were to continue with this book, it would not be anything like the books you’ve read so far.
I’m sure all of you have seen a bad movie sequel. I’m sure many of you have read a book by a best-selling author who reached a point in his career where he could get away with lazy writing because the book would sell anyway. I think you’ll agree those movies and books were not worth your time or your money. What I’m trying to tell you is that if I were to finish writing Never Surrender, it would be just like those books and movies. I made a promise to myself early on that I would never allow myself to stoop to that sort of writing, even if I could get away with it. I have more respect for myself, my characters, and my readers than that.
I feel terrible that I made a promise I can’t keep about this book. Because I feel so strongly about keeping my word, I invested many weeks in this project even after my doubts became so loud I could no longer ignore them. I cut entire segments of the outline and re-plotted to them. I brainstormed with my husband and my writing friends, trying to salvage this story. The unfortunate truth is, it can’t be done. Several other writers have been watching me struggle with this book and they said long ago that I should abandon it. I told them no. I told them I’d made a promise, I owed this to my readers, and I would damn well write this book. The trouble is, I was fighting a losing battle. I was deceiving myself.
As soon as I began voicing my concerns to my husband and a close friend, I was able to see the deep flaws in this plot, and the reasons they can’t be fixed. I initially wrote the outline for this book in 2010, before I’d published anything and while I was still an inexperienced writer. At that time, I desperately wanted to hang on to these characters, much as you do now, so I buried my head in the sand and attempted to conjure something that wasn’t there. But the plot I came up with was forcing Cody and Jess to relearn lessons they’ve already learned. That’s boring to the reader and unfair to the characters. It’s fake and phony and desperate, the exact opposite of what you’ve come to expect from my books.
I’m sorry for letting you down. I’m sorry for disappointing you. I hope you’ll understand the situation. Thank you for sticking with me all these years.