*sniff* Yes, it’s true, Mark Darcy is dead…and so are nearly all the Starks, Snape, Dumbledor, and Walter White. Who exactly is Mark Darcy? He was a character in Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones Diary.
Barnes & Noble just posted about it this morning and how the third book in Fielding’s series, Mad About The Boy has stirred up some heated emotions among her fans. So heated, in fact, some fans have totally disowned her and refuse to read any of her books ever again. Some of the Tweets on the post include:
“HELEN FIELDING WHAT THE HECK DO YOU THINK YOU’RE DOING YOU CAN’T JUST KILL OFF MARK DARCY DO YOU WANT ME TO BE DEPRESSED FOR REST OF MY LIFE”
And this one:
“I don’t want to live in a world where Mark Darcy and Bridget Jones aren’t living happily ever after. Too far, Helen Fielding. Too far.”
It never ceases to amaze me the emotional depth and attachment fans have with an author’s characters. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not putting down fans, I’ve been there myself several times. The very first time I mourned a character was when Han Solo got carbonized in The Empire Strikes Back. I had a new boyfriend at the time (I was 16) and he just couldn’t comprehend how I could be so upset. I was crying. My beloved Han, encased in carbon. *shakes fist* Lucas! How could you?!
Oh the pain.
Wendi and I have done it with our characters too. Our fans have had the same reactions. Some have thrown the book across the room, others have gotten up and walked away until they could stop crying. The pain is real, it cuts, but there’s also hope and happily I can say that none of our Packmates have disowned us. So far.
Think about what the authors are really doing, though. All they did was put words on a page. Yes, they ripped your heart out and left it bleeding on the floor, but they managed to evoke the most deepest, heart-rending emotions. They were able to craft a character so well that character became real for you. They introduced you to this person, they gave you a glimpse into their life, they put the character’s most intimate thoughts and fears out in the open, they made you CARE.
This is no easy fete. It takes skill to pull off something like this. Without enough build up and awesome “pet the dog” moments, the character would have fallen flat and the death, meaningless. How much more disappointed would you have been if you felt like, “Oh, so-and-so died. Guess it’s on to the next chapter.”
A good story takes you on a monstrous roller coaster. It starts off at the gate with anticipatory butterflies in the stomach, the first hill approaches, you kinda know what’s coming, but at the same time, you don’t. Will the cart jump off the tracks? Will I get stuck at the top? Is there really a hill on the other side or is this a massive fake-out to a flat plateau before the real ride starts?
Then you get to the top and you’re plunged into numerous peaks and sharp valleys that make your stomach drop every time.
I have to say, I like literary roller-coasters far more than the actual rides (yes, it’s true, during a trip to Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey back in the ’70s, I actually stepped out of line with something akin to an anxiety attack when Dad wanted to take me on one of the water rides. Do. Not. Like.).
Dearest Fans, beloved Packmates, bear in mind, we do this all for you. Sometimes the story requires a death. It’s all about conflict after all. Let me tell you, it’s not any easier on this end. I mourned for several weeks when we wrote Reclamations and then again as we wrote the draft for Legacies. Even some of the relationships that developed sparked other emotions. I was angry with new characters for swooping in, being charming and stealing the girl away from someone else to the point where I resented writing the new character. I’m constantly over protective of Harry, Cole, Diego and Jake when I write that Wendi often has to give me a virtual smack and say “Stop it. You’re doing it again.”
We go through all the emotion right along with you. We experience it first, so yes, we do know how much it hurts to lose one of them.
But when all is said and done, we sit back and say, “Damn, that’s some good story.”
If you cry uncontrollably, if you find yourself laughing out loud with your nose in a book and your spouse is looking at you funny, or if you get so mad you have to get up and walk away, that’s a good thing. We, as authors, have achieved our goal, we’ve done what we set out to do. We also know you’ll be back for more and screaming for the next book. This makes us happy and I’m sure, deep down despite the heartbreak, it makes our audience happy too.
What character left you in mourning? What book left such an impact on your heart that you’ll never forget it? I bet you can still remember where you were when you were reading it too. Tell us about it. We’d like to hear from you.