Spoiler Alert: This post contains information about the ending of Hockey Is My Boyfriend. The perfect time to read it would be after Chapter 23 of HIMB, Part Three. Or after you've read the whole series.
I want my readers to have the best possible experience with my books. Naturally when I get feedback from readers that they hated something about a book, that sucks. And while most responses to my trilogy, Hockey Is My Boyfriend, are positive, there have been a few complaints about the ending. So, I wanted to explain how the books came to be.
Way back, I started out as a fanfic author, specifically hockey fanfic. Yes, it exists and is still flourishing on Wattpad. I was in a big group of hockey fiction readers and writers on Blogger. We would post, read, and comment on each other's work. For my first serial, I posted a chapter each day at 7:00pm, and my readership grew from two (a friend and one other writer) to hundreds. That story, which took the good part of a year became the basis for Hockey Is My Boyfriend. I had always wanted to write a book where the heroine had two possible heroes for her happy ending. I hated love triangles where one guy was a jerk and the other a saint. A heroine needed a real choice! But I ignored what every other author of a love triangle has realized: if you give people two valid choices, some people are going to choose X and others Y.
In the original online story, Kelly makes her decision at the end of the book, and chooses... drum roll, Phil. Many things were different in that story, but her decision is based both on love and her decision that she loves Vancouver (like me!) and feels that her life will be more balanced and fulfilling by staying in Canada with Phil. The more glamorous, exciting life that Jimmy offers her would take her away from her own career and self-actualization, but she loves him too. The fascinating thing about posting a story live and getting comments is that the readers feel a real stake in the story. The commenters took two sides: Team K-Phil and Team Jelly. The Jellies were not too happy with the ending and said so pointedly. Ouch! Even then, I hated disappointing readers.
Once I entered the world of self-publishing (encouraged by my online support crew!) I never considered using HIMB as source material. It was too long to be one book. Then I had a brainstorm: technology would allow me to write up two ending and let the reader choose her own ending. The series would fall perfectly into three books: Option A, Option B, Choose Your Own Option. I've always loved movies with alternate realities like Sliding Doors or the complicated Memento. The idea of two simultaneous endings was enough to spur me to the brutal rewrite involved in creating HIMB. I really enjoyed figuring out what would have to happen to Kelly and her boyfriends to make each relationship work out.
And I'll admit that the fury of the Jellies spurred me on. Writers are supersensitive and having bunch of readers attack me (albeit nicely) after the first ending was not a pleasant experience. Finally, a way to make everyone happy. This idea probably says more about my personality—people pleaser much?—than the book itself. But I was wrong again. Now I get reviews that say that: I cheated the reader, I'm lazy, they hated one of the endings, I need to make up my mind, etc. I admire the passion that spurs these reviews because they mean the reader is emotionally invested in the books. But it still stings.
So, in the interest of having the best possible experience reading the Hockey Is My Boyfriend trilogy, here are my suggestions:
- The happiest readers seem to be the ones who choose one ending and read only that one. Yes, it's making you "work" and make a decision, but isn't there fun in that? Why are Choose Your Own Adventure books in the first place? To involve the reader more actively. As someone who is unable to resist temptation in any form, I really admire these readers.
- The most unhappy readers are the ones who are Team Jelly, but read the K-Phil ending anyway. (Not that I blame you, I would too.) The endings are significantly different. I would never write the same ending twice and just switch up the names. Kelly and Jimmy have over-the-top physical attraction, but both of them are young and immature. They need to have more life experiences before they can really make a relationship work. The K-Phil ending shows you what happens when Kelly and Jimmy decide to commit too early.
- There are readers who read both endings—as I would—and enjoy both worlds. These readers are into the journey more than the fictional reality. Events like April and Ben's Christmas party occur in both worlds but you see completely different outcomes. I love the idea that making one decision changes the kaleidoscope of our lives and alters the future forever.
Even though the series is a love triangle, the story is really about Kelly. We meet her in high school and see how through hard work and a kind heart, she matures to be a strong young woman ready to meet the challenges of life. And in both endings, Kelly ends up happy and accomplished.