When BubbleCow co-founder and all star editor Caroline Smailes wrote her first novel In Search Of Adam many readers really didn’t like the ending.
I am not talking about a mild annoyance, I am talking about people throwing the book in the bin, tearing out pages and even emailing Caroline to ask for their money back. I joke you not!
You see, Caroline left the ending of the book open. It was not clear if the main character lived or died, it was really up to the reader to decide.
When I asked her why she wrote an ending that left so much to the reader she said:
I have always been experimental with my writing. I want to engage with readers. I feel that, as a writer, you should be pushing the relationship between the reader, the written words and the narrator as far as possible. That’s what I was trying to do with In Search Of Adam I wanted the reader to be involved with the story.
After Caroline’s last book, Like Bees To Honey, her publisher, Scott Pack from Harper Collins, suggested that she write a book that was a digital only project.
Caroline was excited about the project and immediately returned to the idea of interacting with the reader. Caroline explains:
Ebooks are an exciting new development in publishing and I wanted to make the most of this technology to engage with readers. My experience with the ending of In Search of Adam got me thinking and it was not long before I came up with the idea of multiple endings.
The result was 99 Reasons Why.
In short this is a novel with 11 different endings. Caroline wrote the first 95% of the book as usual, but then instead of writing just one ending she wrote eleven.
When asked if this was just a gimmick Caroline replied:
Most certainly not! If you think it’s hard writing one ending to a book you should try writing eleven. I worked as hard on this story as any other novel, perhaps harder. I really wanted to play with the idea of reader interaction, and what better way to engage the reader than to let them choose the ending of the book?
The limitations of the Amazon Kindle mean that there are two versions of the book.
The Kindle version presents the reader with a set of questions, answering these simple questions produces one of the eleven endings.
The iPad version is more sophisticated. This has a specially designed spinner embedded into the book. The reader spins the spinner and a random ending is given.
A Secret Ending
To give readers a taste of the novel, Caroline has released one of the endings for people who have not bought the book to read. The idea is to give you a taste of the novel…
99: the reason why I was only worth ninety-nine quid
It’s been six days since the little girl in
the pink coat went missing and me Uncle Phil’s in me bedroom.
We’ve been watching the little girl in the pink coat’s mam on the news. She was appealing to the public
‘Didn’t realise she had a mam,’ I says, looking at me telly.
‘Everyone’s got a mam, pet,’ me Uncle Phil says to me.
‘She sold her story to The Sun,’ I says, looking at me telly.
‘Got a few quid,’ me Uncle Phil says to me.
‘She wanted nowt to do with that bairn before all this,’ me Uncle Phil says, looking at me telly.
‘Do you know where she is?’ I asks me Uncle Phil.
‘Belle?’ me Uncle Phil asks me.
‘She’s safe,’ me Uncle Phil says to me. ‘Your mam’s keeping an eye on her.’
‘Can I be her mam?’ I asks me Uncle Phil.
‘No, pet, you’re a filthy whore,’ me Uncle Phil says to me.
‘Can you make Andy Douglas come back, Uncle Phil?’ I asks me Uncle Phil.
Me Uncle Phil shakes his head.
‘I love him,’ I tell me Uncle Phil.
‘Andy Douglas is your brother, pet. You didn’t seriously think Princess Di was your mam, did you?’ me
Uncle Phil asks me.
‘You’re a cradle snatcher just like your mam,’ me Uncle Phil says to me.
‘Your mam miscarried when she found out I’d been banging Betty Douglas. Betty was expecting you,’ me
Uncle Phil says to me.
I don’t speak.
‘When you was born, your mam went mad and I ended up buying you from Betty Douglas for ninety-
nine quid,’ me Uncle Phil says.
‘Ninety-nine quid?’ I asks me Uncle Phil.
‘I paid a hundred but got a quid change for some chips for your mam and dad’s tea,’ me Uncle Phil says
‘You bought me?’ I asks me Uncle Phil.
I’m a little bit sick in me mouth.
‘It was the right thing to do,’ me Uncle Phil says to me. ‘I got Betty Douglas pregnant straight away with
‘I’m pregnant,’ I says to me Uncle Phil. ‘I’m pregnant with me brother’s baby,’ I says, and then I throws
up on me purple carpet.
‘You’re a filthy whore,’ me Uncle Phil says to me.
‘What am I going to do?’ I asks me Uncle Phil.
‘You’re going to have the baby,’ me Uncle Phil says to me.
‘Have me brother’s baby?’ I asks me Uncle Phil.
‘Then I’m giving it to Betty Douglas to bring up,’ me Uncle Phil says to me.
‘You what?’ I says to me Uncle Phil.
‘It’s the right thing to do,’ me Uncle Phil says to me.
‘I can’t—’ I says to me Uncle Phil.
‘It’s either that or I’ll make you disappear,’ me Uncle Phil says to me.
I don’t speak.
I’m thinking, they’re all a bunch of nutters.