Gayle Lynds: You never forget some people. Linda L. Richards is one of them – not just because she’s funny and brainy and beautiful, but because she’s such an outstanding author. I love her new suspense thriller, Endings, which I call in a jacket blurb “provocative and powerful.” Publishers Weekly, the bible of publishing, liked the novel so much they gave it a starred review and advised readers that it’s “not to be missed.” Her blog is not to be missed either. Read on….
I did not set out to write a novel that centered around a hit woman. It was the furthest thing from my mind. She just grew that way.
I wanted to explore the mind of someone who has been pushed beyond the point that any human should have to go. An individual who has faced the greatest losses imaginable and has somehow – against a pile of odds – managed to keep moving forward. Diamonds are formed under pressure, we understand this. They are beautiful and also impossibly hard because of things that happened to them under the crust of the Earth. Diamonds are unrelenting. Unforgiving. They can cut stuff that most other things won’t even attempt.
What happens to the human psyche when extreme pressure – enough pressure to create a diamond – is applied? In the last 14 months or so, many of us have seen some of that in our own lives. Some have lost loved ones. Some have become ill or looked after those who have been ill. Most have had to stay at home in previously unimaginable circumstances while we watch our familiar worldscape become increasingly foreign and unfathomable. Circumstances that we have since been told can be harmful to our mental health.
I am not a science fiction writer, so I had not even dreamed of Covid when I wrote Endings; could not have imagined it. And yet, when it showed up, there was something familiar in it. “This,” I thought. “This is what it feels like to have that pressure applied.” It felt familiar, in part because I’d felt I’d lived through that sort of intense mental pressure while writing the book. In a way, I wasn’t going anywhere I hadn’t been before.
So that, in a way, is the real subplot of Endings, though you won’t see that in any of the publicist’s notes. They put it in more classically understandable language that ultimately means the same thing.
What the publicists will say: people who loved Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and Dexter will enjoy Endings. What the author will here translate that to: Endings is a dark and uncomfortable read and not everyone will enjoy it. It’s difficult, let’s put it that way. Not necessarily intellectually, but spiritually. We get to dark places of the soul.
Since the book is a first-person narration, we are witnessing the world through the protagonist’s sadly damaged eyes and heart. At times there is a moral ambiguity about her. At other times, it is less ambiguous. I’m seeing that already in the reader reviews, too. A lot of people love the book. But the ones that don’t, really don’t. It is dark and it is twisty and I did not tell it without tears.
In the end, it is not a book about a female contract killer though, on the other hand, it is always that, as well. Truly, I think Endings is about redemption. And the struggle all of us face as we try to find the light. And hope. And maybe we can all use some of that.