A friend once warned me that writing fiction, especially when it drifts too close to real-world events, can be a minefield in more ways than one.
Over the past year and a half, I’ve discovered this piece of advice to be true.
You see, I originally wrote The Blasphemer to be the first in a trilogy exploring the conflict between the West and Islam. I had a grand narrative arc plotted out, with key revelations that wouldn’t come to fruition until Book 3. The template I had in mind was a modern-day Lawrence of Arabia – large and ambitious and provocative. Featuring a cast of, well, thousands.
However, several readers just didn’t buy into the premise. They voiced out their dissatisfaction with the way The Blasphemer ended, and they made it clear that they hated he fact that the ‘bad guys’ weren’t caught or punished at the end of the book.
It’s taken me a while to wrap my head around their opinions, and I must admit that I’ve been very resistant to the idea of changing anything. I wanted scope. I wanted realism. But, in the end, I had to relent and give my readers what they wanted — a self-contained story with a clear-cut conclusion.
So there will no longer be any three-part Lawrence of Arabia.
In its place, there’s now a new edition of The Blasphemer. One where I’ve lifted narrative elements from Book 2 and 3 and shoehorned them into the ending of The Blasphemer.
It’s not necessarily the conclusion that I originally desired — or envisioned — but it’s probably the most democratic thing to do at this point.
Yes, I love books with stone-cold realism. And, yes, I love cliffhangers even more. But, in this case, it’s the persuasion of my readers that has to take precedence over mine. And perhaps that’s for the best.