StormTide is the thrilling conclusion to the FloodWorld trilogy by Tom Huddleston so it is fitting to be hosting Tom on today’s concluding post of the blog tour on the theme of endings and the difficulties they can pose.
Having met Kara and Joe in FloodWorld and followed them and their challenges in DustRoad I was already invested in them both. At the end of Kara and Joe’s second adventure we were left with the hope that they just might make a difference in world gone wrong, young readers needed, I think, to see that hope fulfilled, especially now. StormTide provides that hope.
At first that hope feels in short supply. The Mariner terrorist Cortez is determined to get his hands on an ancient machine with the power to destroy all life on earth. As Cortez gets ever closer to achieving his aim Kara and Joe lead a band of allies to try to stop the looming disaster. Tidal waves sweep the planet, storms rage and trust is in short supply as the two friends battle to hold back the tide and save the planet. This is truly edge of the seat drama. The danger and destruction gives this story a blockbuster feel and the fast paced action rarely lets up. Yet still the reader cares for these two young heroes. The quiet moments allow for an understanding of Kara and Joe’s fears, insecurities and also their underlying determination and optimism. Joe in particular has matured as the story has developed and his friendship with Kara at the heart of the story is stronger than ever. StormTide is an exhilarating and gripping read but one that contains a personal theme of learning how to be the best you can be. A fitting end to a great series.
Guest Post: The Final Chapter: The Joys and Challenges of Ending a Trilogy – Tom Huddleston
Finding just the right ending for any story can be tricky. When you’re bringing an entire trilogy to an end – trying to wrap up every loose end, give every character a satisfying sense of closure – it’s exponentially trickier.
When I began writing my futuristic, post-climate-change adventure story FloodWorld, I knew I wanted it to be the first book in a trilogy – but I didn’t know yet what the other stories would be. And ending the first book was challenging enough – I must’ve rewritten the last few chapters at least 20 times, trying to make the conflicts grander, the resolutions more satisfying; desperately attempting to close every loop (except the ones I wanted to leave open for the sequels).
By contrast, finishing the second book, DustRoad, was simple – as the middle chapter, it was fine to leave things open-ended. But approaching StormTide, the final book in the trilogy, was daunting. Not only did the twists and the action need to top everything that had come before, but so did the emotion: I needed to push every character to their absolute limit, but still find a way to tie everything up neatly.
My solution arrived in two forms. The first was to take inspiration from stories I loved – to look at how great book series ended, and apply the same ideas to my own story. I didn’t rip anyone off (I hope!), but I definitely took inspiration and encouragement from other writers (see below). In doing so, I realised that the endings I love most of all are those that are bittersweet – the ones that recognise the sadness of parting, but are also able to leave the reader with a feeling of optimism.
The second solution was to ask myself: what did I actually want for my characters, these imagined figures that I’ve lived with and loved writing about for the past however-many years? What were my own aspirations for my young heroes, what would bring them – and me – the greatest sense of closure?
It was by answering these questions that I was able to map out the most satisfying conclusion for the trilogy – a way to wrap things up so that, even though the characters have suffered through great peril and faced terrible loss, they’re still able to face the future with a sense of hope.
And that’s what StormTide was intended to do – to offer hope. The FloodWorld trilogy may be set in a dark, dangerous future, where humanity’s recklessness has resulted in a ravaged world. But they’re still stories of optimism, of friendship, of finding a way to bring about change for the better and improve the lives of those around us. With StormTide, those ideas have finally been brought to fruition.
Here are just a few of my favourite endings…
The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien
People love to complain that the ending goes on too long, and yes there’s still a lot of story left once the main action has been completed. But when I think about that final chapter – Frodo’s departure from the Grey Havens, and Sam’s weary return to Hobbiton – it still makes me well up.
A Darkling Plain by Philip Reeve
The last few chapters of this book broke my heart. The Mortal Engines series start out (relatively) upbeat and plucky – it’s a grim, muddy world, but the sense of adventure makes up for it. By the end things are different: everyone’s exhausted, and even though the climax is essentially a positive one, the sense of loss is devastating.
The House at Pooh Corner by AA Milne
The ultimate bittersweet ending, as Christopher Robin leaves the Hundred Acre Wood and puts away childish things. But we know that the stories will remain forever – and his friends will always be waiting for him.
Thank you, Tom for explaining your motivation and thoughts behind the writing of this final, and in my opinion, fitting instalment of this powerful series of stories. The message, “Just be nice.” is wise, kind and what we needed to read.
The DustWorld trilogy with its themes of environment, friendship and leadership is a great read for readers aged 11+. StormTide was published on 30th September and is available to purchase online here.
For maximum enjoyment it would help to read the previous books first and FloodWorld can be purchased here and DustRoad here. For more information about Tom Huddleston and his books please visit his website.
For more about the book, check out the other stops on the blog tour that you may have missed.