“What happens after Openly Straight?”

I’m so sorry that I’ve been so bad about blogging recently. I’ve been so busy with writing and editing and a few other projects, and I haven’t made the time. Bad author! Bad author!

One amazing thing I’ve noticed has been the incredible uptick in emails about Openly Straight. Even more than when it first came out, I seem to be getting lots of emails with questions about the book. The most common question is, “will you be writing a sequel?”

The answer to that: stay tuned. There may be some news about that in the near future!

The second most common question is, “what happens to Ben?”

A couple days ago, I got an email like that. But this one made me ponder things in a different way. I’ll explain. Let me start by sharing the email.

Dear Mr. Konigsberg,

I just finished reading your book Openly Straight and had a couple of questions. I know many people asked you what is going to happen to Ben and Rafe after the story but I’m more curious about Ben himself.

What is Ben and Bryce’s relationship like? Is it similar to Rafe’s with Ben? Is it Agape? Does it ever intersect with Eros? Does Ben and Bryce encounter similar problems like Ben and Rafe’s relationship?

I know you probably get a ton of emails everyday but hopefully, you’ll see this one.

Thank you for writing this amazing book!

Sincerely, xxxx

I read this, and immediately some questions came into my head.

1) Who gets to decide what happens to characters after a book is over?
It’s kind of like Hazel’s questions to Peter Van Houten in The Fault in Our Stars. Mr. Van Houten wrote the book, but does that mean the book is “his?” When does it become everyone’s, so that others can decide for themselves what happens after the book ends?

There are no correct or incorrect answers to these questions. To me, it’s not really for the author to say what happens after the book is over. That’s the beauty of a book. That’s what fan fiction is all about. Openly Straight ends, and to me, anyone who has read it has as much right as I do as an author to say what happens to the characters after.

2) What about stuff that happens outside of the realm of the novel? Backstory?
Same thing. If a reader believes that Ben and Bryce had a love affair and Ben is keeping it a secret, I think that’s great! Who cares what I think?

3) Do the answers to the above questions change when an author says they are going to write a sequel?
This one interests me. Let’s say I do write a sequel. Does that mean a person who imagined a different path for Rafe and Ben is now “wrong?”

I don’t think so. One of the things I explore in my next novel, The Porcupine of Truth, is how whatever one believes about God and the universe is undeniably true… FOR THEM. Meaning that Jesus Christ is absolutely the son of God … for those who believe that. Meaning that there is no God … for those who believe that. The problem comes when we start bumping into others, and telling others what must be true for them. We are in charge of our own truths.

With that in mind, I think it’s totally acceptable that some people may decide what happens after Openly Straight, and they could read a sequel and decide that I have it wrong. Why not? For them, I may not create the correct reality. I noticed that the third Bridget Jones book came out recently, and many, many fans completely rejected the plot. To them, it simply doesn’t happen that way. I think that’s just fine.

So with that in mind, here’s how I answer that email:

What is Ben and Bryce’s relationship like?
They were best friends. They had a similar sense of humor. They shared their feelings. All of this is in the text.

Is it similar to Rafe’s with Ben? Is it Agape? Does it ever intersect with Eros?

Not in the text, no. What’s your thought about this? To you, do Ben and Bryce have any eros in their relationship? If so, what happened there? I did not intend for that to be the case, but it really doesn’t matter what I intended. It only matters what your imagination comes up with!

Does Ben and Bryce encounter similar problems like Ben and Rafe’s relationship?
Again, not for me to say. It wasn’t my intention, but maybe to you, there’s a backstory there that Ben kept secret? What would that have been?

And of course, if a sequel comes, there will be answers to these questions. If the answers are incorrect to you, you know what? You’re right, and I’m wrong!

For you!

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6 Responses to “What happens after Openly Straight?”

  1. Jason Tarant says:

    Really interesting post!

    I really hope your idea of an Openly Straight sequel (the one in Ben’s perspective) does happen. I’d definitely get a copy as soon as possible, and I bet I wouldn’t be the only one!

  2. paddylastinc says:

    I’d definitely get a copy of the sequel as soon as it gets out.
    I’m hoping that Ben & Rafe will still be together though *fingers-crossed*

  3. Katherine J says:

    When ever I read an open-ended book, I never really think about it. Or maybe it’s the other way around — maybe I think about it too much.

    If I know there will be a sequel, I try not to think about what might happen/what I would want to happen, because if what I had been imagining doesn’t happen, then I am a little disappointed. Then, I feel bad because I realize that I’m a little disappointed in the author, and not just the story itself, and I hate being disappointed in other authors, considering I’m sort of one myself. If there won’t be a sequel, then I allow myself to imagine what I would want to happen, because I know there isn’t a chance of me not liking the sequel.

    I just finished reading Openly Straight earlier today and decided to find out if there was a sequel or not, and not that I know that there might be, there might not be, I’ve stopped myself from thinking too much about what happens with the characters in the future. The thought of Ben’s relationship with Bryce being more than just friends — like how it was with Rate — never crossed my mind until I read this post, although that does make a bit of sense. Also, I love how it wasn’t such a big deal to everybody at Natick that Rafe kept his sexuality not necessarily a secret, but not open either, that people didn’t really care all that much.

    I’d love if you wrote a sequel in the future and I’m sure many other people would too. You are an amazing author and i’m excited to go read your other works!

    — K Xx

  4. Ts says:

    It’s so interesting to me to see this post. I came to this blog, having finished Openly Straight yesterday (in one sitting), to see if anyone else was as worried about Ben as I was. He accused Rafe of dishonesty, but he’s just as guilty given his ultimate choices regarding his own sexuality. After finishing the book, I couldn’t help but wonder if Ben would ever comes to terms with himself. As someone in Rafe’s position, with my own would-be-Ben, it hits a little close to the bone. So I really hope to see a sequel. As much as I love to create my own head-canons, I feel a little like Hazel confronting Van Houten, just wanting someone to tell her it will be ok.

    • bkonigsberg says:

      Dear Hazel,

      First off, I promise I’m not a drunk. Secondly, I will not be mean to you. 🙂 Beyond that, I so appreciate what you’re saying about your concern for Ben. I think that concern is warranted. I think there’s more to Ben’s story… in fact I know there is! Rest assured that in one way or another, Ben is safe. Keep an eye on this blog for news and updates. As soon as I’m able, I will let everyone know what they can expect and when!

      Sincerely,
      Van Houten

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