Monday, February 15, 2010

Cliffhangers - Jennifer Estep

Greetings and salutations! First of all, I want to say thanks to Lee for having me back on the blog. Thanks so much, Lee!

On to my topic of the day – cliffhangers.

My latest book, Spider’s Bite, is out this month. It’s the first book in my Elemental Assassin urban fantasy series. And, yes, it ends with a cliffhanger.

Don’t worry. It’s not a major cliffhanger. I don’t have my heroine get surrounded by killer ninjas or thrown into shark-infested waters and suddenly end the book. After all, I’m a reader too. There’s only so much suspense that I can take, and I know lots of other readers feel the same way. 

But at the end of Spider’s Bite, the heroine finds out a piece of information that she didn’t know before – something that absolutely stuns her and really rocks her whole world.

So why did I decide to end with a bit of a cliffhanger? Well, mainly because it fit the story. During the course of Spider’s Bite, my heroine goes through a lot of ups and downs. But finally, at the end, she’s in a good place in her life. And just when she thinks that things are finally getting back to normal – BAM! She finds out this information, and it changes everything that she thought she knew.

I also decided to close out the book with a cliffhanger because I love twist endings. Two of my favorite twist endings are in the heist movies The Italian Job (with Mark Wahlberg) and The Thomas Crown Affair (with Pierce Brosnan). You think you know what’s going on in those movies, but suddenly, there’s a clever little twist at the end, and you realize that things aren’t quite what they seem.

I also decided to end Spider’s Bite with a cliffhanger because, well, I want to hook people on my books, my story, my characters. I want readers to want to keep reading to find out what happens next. It’s one of the best compliments you can get as an author when someone e-mails you to say how much she’s looking forward to your next book.

But I’m not being too cruel to readers. The next book in the series, Web of Lies, comes out in June, so folks don’t have too long to wait to see how the cliffhanger plays out. And the third book in the series, Venom, will be out in October.

What about you guys? Do you like cliffhangers? Hate them? What are some of your favorite cliffhangers or surprise endings in books and movies? Share in the comments.


**Jennifer is giving away another book from her backlist to one lucky reader! Just leave a comment for a chance to win and we'll pick a winner in a few days. Good luck!**

***Jennifer's winner is Laurie! Please email me, Laurie, at with your full name and mailing address. :) Thanks to everyone who left a comment!***


Pat Cochran said...

Hi, Jennifer,

I usually like my stories tied up
nicely and neatly with a red ribbon. But an occasional "hook" isn't too far out of the picture for me! It gives an additional touch to the story, or lagniappe, as the French would say!

Pat Cochran

Totebag Guest said...

Hi, Pat!

Me too, but I don't mind a little hook either -- especially if I know the next book will be out soon or if it's part of a series that I love. ;-)

kittyism said...

Twists, cliffhangers... I like it all. As long as it works with the rest of the book and doesn't seem tacked on for effect.

Caroline said...

The film that struck a chord with me - I wasn't expecting *that* ending - was the Boy in the Striped Pjamas". Don't know why really - I should have expected it wouldn't have a happy ending! Caroline x

Laurie G said...

Cliffhanger from TV

Who Shot JR? -Dallas

I like to be kept guessing. I dislike it when it is too predictable right from the start.

Totebag Guest said...

Kitty -- Me too. Half the fun of reading a book is the journey to get to the end -- and all the adventures along the way.

Caroline -- I haven't heard of that one. I'll have to check it out.

Laurie -- That's probably one of the best cliffhangers of all time.

Van Pham said...

I like cliff hangers just not crazzzzy ones.for example, KMM's Fever series each book ends with a MAJOOR cliff hanger and all the fans have to wait a year till the next installment. I'm glad your books are only a couple of months apart so it isn't so bad :)

I agree with you about having cliff hangers to keep reader's interest in the book. My favorite cliff hanger in a book i read is in Ilona Andrew's Magic strike book. At the end of the novel it hints about Kate's background/ past and who are father is...but we will have to wait till May to find out what happens.

Another movie cliff hanger that comes to mind is Pirates of the Caribbean's Dead Men Chest when we see Capt Barbarossa at the end of the movie (quite a shocker, since we all know what happened to him in the first movie).

As for Tv, season 4 of FRIENDS when Ross said the wrong name at his wedding. I was like 0-M-G haha.

great post on cliffhangers!!

shannonm said...

I agree...I like a cliffhanger if I don't have to wait for a year to get the next book.

Lil said...

I don't mind cliffhangers though I know many of my friends are exasperated by them. Truthfully, I can't think when I last came across one in a book. In television, the most memorable one was the "ending" episode of Twin was a series that was supposed to last only one season if I recall.

Linda Henderson said...

Sometimes I like cliffhangers and sometimes I don't. If I have to wait a long time to find out what happens, I don't like it much. But since I like suspense, I will usually read a book anyway that has a suspensful ending.