Any reader can tell you there’s a distinct loss when a series ends – the mourning of a character you got to know, started to love or see as a friend. If the ending is done well, you feel satisfied, given enough tidbits and knowledge of the character to wonder where life will take them now. If you’re unsatisfied, you feel lost and betrayed.
Now, imagine that character was in your head, chatting away in your ear for months. Just as we can expell our demons onto the pages of a journal or diary, we expel characters into their story. We follow them, help them grow, discover surprising things we might not have known, and then, eventually, we have to let them go.
When I started writing Cocktails and Dreams, I didn’t know it was going to be a series. It wasn’t until I had a chat with the publishers and they talked about books that were interconnected, but not traditional as a series. I knew immediately that book two would be Mia’s story – I had been carrying around that idea inside for about three years.
But the third? I wasn’t so sure.
In fact, I wrote Cocktails and Dreams not being sure who would feature as the third character in the series. Bel was the obvious choice, because I loved her, and I knew that she was a bit of a fraud with a story to tell, and yet, I hesitated. I didn’t want to break Bel’s mystique – she was a little out of reach, a little further from the other two. I almost didn’t want to make her vulnerable to my readers, break down her facade and show her soft insides. It felt…unfair. After all, she worked so hard to be seen as the big business woman.
There were other options – when a friend who had read Prosecco and Promises asked who the third book was about, she was surprised to find it was Bel. She had assumed it would be Marjorie, Mia’s step mother, going off on her journey of self discovery as a young widow to teach yoga in Bali. Man, I wish I’d thought of that.
Another choice would have been Jen, telling the story of her youth, her crazy artistic time, the love she had for the younger sister who would become a rock star, and why she kept her heart protected. A time slip.
The other choice, of course, was darling Jacques, everyone’s favourite. He too has a story to tell, but unfortunately I didn’t realise that at the time!
Saying goodbye to the club is hard – I can see it clearly in my mind’s eye, and I hope the readers can too. I hope they can feel themselves tracing fingertips over the marbled bar top, the flecks of glitter in the darkness. Maybe they’re watching a show, drinking a Martini, tasting Savvy’s brilliant food.
The books are about learning to be okay with vulnerability, being able to let people in, accept help, trust those who love you. They’re about being unashamedly who you are – no excuses or denials.
What I hope is that, like I will, readers will take The Martini Club as an imaginary refuge, a place to escape to when the day is hard, or cold, or uninteresting. Maybe it’ll even be inspiration to visit one of the brilliant burlesque clubs up and down the country. When you do, think of the girls, and maybe have a drink for me.