I’m allergic to spoilers. I come out in hives.
Okay, that’s a bit dramatic, but if you saw me scrabbling for the remote control to switch off the preview of next week’s episode of Poldark you would think I really do have a problem. I just can’t bear knowing what is happening next in a story whether it’s a book, TV, film or soap.
For me, since I was a child, I have loved mysteries. From The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, when I was seven, through to Kate Morton’s books in the present day I immerse myself in a work of fiction enjoying every twist and turn, and completely savouring the story as the author intended.
It was something of a shock then to see my debut novel, The Seven Letters, on Google and to find that the search for the book took me to the last page and not the prologue. There, for everyone to see, was the conclusion, the end, the explanation. This even before the visitor quite realised where they had landed so they had no choice but to see it.
I had my publisher take it down from google books for that reason and yes, it may have lost sales. I felt very strongly that after four years work on a book I didn’t want to have my carefully crafted finale foisted on a potential reader who, if anything like me, just wanted to start from the beginning and discover all the twists and turns in a page by page revelation.
If you are not like me you won’t understand. A friend told me she immediately turns to the last page of any book to see the ending because she can’t read any story until she first knows how it is resolved. She had done it with my book and she has no idea how it grieved me to hear her say that!
It’s the same with the reviewers who these days feel the need to write a synopsis of a novel instead of their thoughts on it. There is an art to a good review, it is about giving a flavour of the novel, expressing your own feelings and telling others whether or not they might enjoy it. I admire those who can craft one with dexterity. This is one of my favourite reviews of The Seven Letters:
“Set in the Cotswolds and Paris, ‘The Seven Letters’ is a fusion of life in war torn France and the consequences of how it effected people for the rest of their lives. The story-telling in the book is so gripping it draws the reader in and it becomes very easy to relate to the characters and feel the emotion of their situations. It is a book you are desperate to finish to find out the answers, but at the same time wish it would go on forever.”
Simple, enticing and enough background to provide a setting and whilst others might disagree but as a potential reader that’s all I need to know.
There is something wonderful in the adventure of reading books especially if they are stories that make you feel you are in there with the characters. I like the feeling of reaching the end of a novel and then re-entering the real world, blinking in the light and wishing I could go back again. It goes back to the Pevensie children stepping out of the wardrobe and leaving Narnia behind them. Which of us did not want to go back in with them to have tea with Mr. Tumnus?
So please, people who create spoilers, think twice or at least give us all good warning, perhaps a universally identifiable klaxon noise or a flag icon, but please let us relish the sense of anticipation and pure joy of the mystery. After all The Mousetrap has managed it for sixty-five years, it can’t be that hard!
The Seven Letters paperback is published on 28th February, but is on kindle, kobo and ibooks now. Signed copies are available from janharvyeauthor.com