I have a confession. Well, several actually.
One of my worst habits is reading the last page of a book first. I know, I know! I'm awful. What about the suspense, you say? I can hear my sister screaming at me, "JAYYYYNNNE."
Suspense, schmense. I don't do well with surprises.
The truth is, I tend to get a better feel as to whether or not I'll enjoy the book if I read the last page -- or at least the last paragraph. So I cheat. I can always pretend I haven't read it, can't I?
Second confession -- sometimes I skim read. I feel very guilty about this one because, as a writer myself, I know how much work goes into a book, so I ought to do the author justice by reading every word. But I'm an impatient reader and I like to be drawn thoroughly into the story. If that's not happening then I'll start to skim.
Third confession -- I'm a dreadfully picky reader. If there is one line that seems wrong to me, that's pretty much the book finished, because I won't be able to forget it. If there's animal cruelty in the book, I'm done. If it's set in England and the author has used too many American terms, I'm done. If its historical and there are too many anachronisms, I'm done. If it's a book with a storyline that's too predictable, too "trendy", or been done too often, I'm done.
I've always flirted with the idea of writing a book that could be read by starting at any chapter and then reading in a circle --especially to thwart those who, like me, flip to the last page first. Ha! What if a book could be begun anywhere in the story and still enjoyed?
Well, with The Peculiar Pink Toes of Lady Flora, I think I made a good effort at writing a story just crazy enough for the chapters be read out of order and still make sense by the end. I was tempted, in fact, to put the chapter numbers all over the place, but I'm not sure the publisher --or the editor-- would have appreciated my little joke.
Hmm. I have no doubt a psychiatrist would have something to say about my slightly masochistic desire to keep readers on their toes and spinning like Misty Copeland or Darcey Bussell.
But it's for their own good. I wouldn't want them to end up like me, huddled by the library shelf, sneakily perusing final pages and convincing themselves that it's all ok.
Because sometimes, my friend, the last page is only the beginning.