Before becoming a novelist, I was (and am) a playwright. Over the years, I’ve noticed something. A lot of playwrights strive for the ninety-minute show—technically a full-length piece of theatre, but one that plays out without interruption. No intermission. No chance for the audience to leave.
I understood that fear, as a playwright. If you don’t manage to hook your audience in the first act, it would be heartbreaking to have them slip out during intermission and miss all the revelations of the second act. Still, I thought—shouldn’t we be hooking people in our first act? Isn’t that the whole point?
The answer, of course, is yes. You have to hook them early, so that they’ll stay. You have to create compelling characters, leave questions unanswered, and make your world one they want to stay in until the end.
It’s no easy task. And let me tell you something… the fear of a playwright losing audience members at intermission pales in comparison to the fear of a first-time novelist losing readers after the first book in a trilogy.
Writing the first book in a series is a daunting task because you need it to be both satisfying (you want your reader to enjoy the experience, not be frustrated by it) and unsatisfying (leave them wanting more so they’ll be eager for the next installment of the story). It’s not a fear revolving simply around building readership, or hitting book sale numbers, or anything like that. For me, at least, as a storyteller, it’s the fear of being misunderstood.
Because some character arcs take awhile to play out. Some comeuppances are long-awaited, others may not come at all. Some of the biggest ideas, messages, heartbreaks, and takeaways from your story won’t be revealed until the final chapter of the final book.
Think about it in terms of Harry Potter. (SPOILERS AHEAD – BUT YOU *HAVE* HAD 20 YEARS ON THIS ONE, Y’ALL, SO….) If you only read the first book, you’d be left thinking Snape is a flat-out villain, Harry will probably wind up marrying Hermione, and Dumbledore will live forever and help the kids whenever they’re in over their heads.
That’s not the story J. K. Rowling was ultimately telling… and NOT that I’m comparing myself to J. K. Rowling (never, oh Lord, please don’t put me up against my hero), but I wonder if she had the same fear. Building a story over the course of not simply a few hundred pages, but a few volumes, a few years—it’s a leap of faith and a long-haul journey, and I hope you’ll number among my community of readers as we all go the distance together.
Read the First Chapters
Fifty years after the Singularity, the world is divided into two populations locked in a cold war: Synthetic Citizens, or Syns, human-computer hybrids with extraordinary enhancements and potentially infinite lifespans; and Originals, the individuals who did not merge their bodies with the machines.
But the decades-long battle between Original and Syn is almost at an end, because the Originals are on the verge of extinction. One of the only young Originals left in the world, Ere, knows he might someday be the very last of his kind. But when he meets a beautiful, powerful Syn girl called Ever, he questions everything he’s ever been told about his lifelong enemies.
Original Syn is a rich, dangerous world of family secrets, free will, forbidden love, and all of the unexpected peril that arises when aggressive technology meets stubborn humanity.
Early Praise for Original Syn
“A gripping story whose words pop off the page… humor, love, masterful storytelling… Beth Kander paints a complex picture of the human condition. ‘Original Syn’ is a transformational piece of literature.”
–Andrew Slack, Founder, The Harry Potter Alliance
“ORIGINAL SYN is a heart-pounding book that will keep readers on their toes and turning the page.”
–Mia Siegert, author of JERKBAIT
“Original Syn is storytelling at its finest. Kander’s characters are fascinating, complex, and immediately relatable, and the future world they inhabit feels both mythical and tangible. Original Syn is the kind of book that stays with you long after you’ve read its final pages; an unforgettable story that pulls you in and takes you along for the ride.”
–Francesca G. Varela, author of Seas of Distant Stars
“Beth Kander’s Original Syn is a book that is both timely and timeless, addressing the human pursuit of immortality and perfection at a time when popular culture and cutting edge tech firms have increasingly become obsessed with such notions as “singularity” through our exponentially advancing technologies. The problem, of course, with Silicon Valley’s vision of the future is that it removes the inner human experience from the equation. Original Syn skillfully and compassionately imagines what the real, felt experience of such a future might be, and it is therefore essential reading. In this real and terrifying vision of the future, it offers a glimpse into the complexities and nuances of such a dream, and in doing so questions many of the assumptions we might make about the future that we really might hope for. This is a book that will capture the reader’s attention and keep it, both because it is accessible and action-filled and also because it asks big questions: What does the future hold? What does it mean to be human?”
–Theodore Richards, award-winning author of Cosmosophia
Watch the Book Trailer
Beth Kander is an award-winning playwright and author. She lives in Chicago, Illinois, with her husband, daughter, and two geriatric rescue dogs.