Struggle and the hope for happy endings

I write two kinds of stories; fanciful stories for younger readers and speculative fiction for young adults and older readers. The two styles are completely different—like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Hunger Games kind of different. But at the heart of every story, you will find three things—struggle, hope and a happy ending—and as the saying goes, “we write what we know.”

Struggle. It is something everyone can relate to. We are human and it is part of life. It is something with which I am intimately familiar. My son is seven. We adopted him when he was one. At two, he had a stroke. At five, the doctors told us he has a terminal disease. I write it matter-of-factly here, but believe me, there is a lot of emotion behind those few sentences. There is a lot of emotion in that struggle. Emotion that I vent through the characters in my stories. I write what I know.

Hope. Without it, our struggles would lead us to despair. With it, we find the strength to fight. I know struggle. I have made friends with it. It is part of my life. But I know hope too, and I know the power of hope brightens even the darkest struggles. I have seen too many miracles in my life to ignore this truth. And this hope comes through my stories as well. We all get angry and frustrated. The characters I write do also. But when the raging is over, even when it seems all is lost, they will find hope, just as I have. I write what I know.

Happy endings. When we adopted my son, we were in Russia for court, and the judge canceled on us. She didn’t like something about my passport, wanted us to go home, fix it, and come back. Yes, it is as absurd as it sounds. Had we done that, we would have burned six weeks, during which Russia slammed the door on foreign adoptions. In other words, my son would not be my son. As it was, God gave us a miracle. There is no other explanation for what happened next. Maybe I’ll tell you that story one day, but here’s the happy ending. We went to court. My son is my son.

As for my son’s disease, did you know that there is technology in clinical trials that allows doctors to extract your DNA, fix it, and stick it back in your body? That’s not a treatment, that’s a cure. And that’s not science fiction. It’s real. It’s the kind of technology that could save my son. To my knowledge, they aren’t testing that treatment for the disease my son has, but a dad can hope, can’t he?

Happy endings are a matter of perspective, and they aren’t always the end of the story. The happy ending for me in bringing my son home led to a new story, with deeper struggles, a different sort of hope, and the happy ending? My wife and I want our son to be healed here on Earth, but we know that even if that doesn’t happen, he will be healed in Heaven. That’s not the ending that I want, but it’s a happy ending to me, nonetheless. And maybe that’s why I write the stories I do—because I can pour myself into a story and feel all the pain and joy, but I get to control how it ends. And though we may sometimes disagree, to me they have happy endings. I write what I know.

STARGAZER GIRL, the 4th and final book of the series is slated to hit store at the end of May, right at the start of summer. It has a happy ending.

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