Behold the men of Fool's Gold: Calvin Sutter, Ira Adler, and Tim Lazarus
Behold the men of Fool’s Gold: Calvin Sutter, Ira Adler, and Tim Lazarus

I stayed up way too late reading last night. And then I lay awake thinking about the ending for Fool’s Gold. Wondering if I should have written the story a different way—as if it were even possible.

I’m not going to spoiler here—if you want spoilers, you can read the reviews at Goodreads. But I am going to offer a bit of an explanation.

A story involves the intersection of perceptions. There’s the kind of story the author wants to write, the kind of story s/he thinks s/he’s writing, the kind of story the reader wants or expects, and how the reader interprets what s/he’s read. That’s a lot of perceptions, and a lot of room for these perceptions to come into conflict.

Different kinds of romantic relationships are a large part of the overall story arc of the Ira Adler stories, but the stories themselves aren’t romance. The stories are structured as mystery and adventure, and each one contains an individual suspense plot. The overall theme of the books is Ira’s moral coming-of-age—his development from spoiled pleasure-seeker to thinking, compassionate person who is true to himself and does the right thing, even when the right thing isn’t the most fun thing.

This is the part where the author describes what s/he thinks s/he’s writing.

When I look back at the pivotal events of the three books, I see a chain of inevitability. There are decision points, to be sure—sliding doors moments. Sometimes Ira makes the right decisions, and sometimes he makes disastrous ones. But he learns from his mistakes, and every decision leads him closer to the person he was meant to be.

The ending of Fool’s Gold has its roots in Turnbull House. Those who have read Turnbull House will know exactly what I’m talking about. Those events were undertaken solemnly, and for a reason. I had to give Ira genuine conflict about whether to return to Goddard or not. He had to understand on a visceral level, what it would mean—because like all of us, Ira is very good at closing his eyes to inconvenient truths. He needed to strike his bargain with eyes wide open.

And this understanding informs his subsequent actions.

Does Ira get a happy ending? Of course he does. But the best kind of happy is not something ripped out of plastic packaging and slapped on to make our story fit into some pre-defined mold. The best kind of happiness is the kind we forge for ourselves, from the sliding-doors moments that have made us who we are, and which we shape according to our needs, desires, and fondest dreams.

I hope you will read and enjoy Fool’s Gold, both for the story you want to read, and the story I’ve tried to write.

JF

May 26, 2015

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