I’ve just finished reading a well-reviewed crime novel called Palm Beach, Finland by Antti Tuomainen. It’s the first book by him I’ve tried and I enjoyed it, though it’s less a crime caper and more of an offbeat tale of eccentric losers muddling through life in a holiday resort. It’s laced with dark Scandinavian humour, which took me a while to adjust to, though the silliness of what was happening carried me along.

I was glad to see that the author had written a short afterword, explaining his thinking on how he’d tackled the writing of his latest novel, which apparently is much lighter in tone than his previous work. I think that he may have done so, to pacify his fans who might have been expecting violent thrills.

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Henning Mankell‘s An Event In Autumn, a Kurt Wallander thriller includes a 14-page afterword, in which the author reflects on how he came to start writing novels about a Swedish detective.

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An afterword can be an effective way of communicating with readers, letting them into your world, making them a part of the process and fostering loyalty. In a way, they act like a self-interview, similar to how sports competitors, film stars and musicians talk about what they’ve just done.

Various features can appear after The End is typed in a work of fiction, including a taster of the next book in a series via the gripping first chapter, a list of thanks by the author to friends, family and publishing staff, and an afterword.

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Epilogues are also called postscripts, but they’re different to an afterword, for they’re part of the story, a tidying-up of what happened after the main thrust of the story ended. I felt compelled to write an epilogue to my first Cornish Detective novel, as there were so many bodies lying around and my protagonist detective was in such a fragile mental state that I couldn’t just abandon him! EMOJI I have a feeling that the epilogue will be the first thing to be excised by a professional editor….

I’ve also written what could become afterwords to the stories in my series, though I penned them partly as an exercise to provide material for interviews, cover blurb and marketing bumph. They also served to cleanse my palate, as it were, as I sometimes found that I’d written about themes I hadn’t considered when I started out. As American playwright Edward Albee said: “I write to find out what I’m talking about.”

An afterword is a comment by the author, or even someone else, discussing aspects of the story. The same thing can be said of the difference between a prologue and a forward.

No doubt, publishers’ attitudes towards afterwords vary, and I have a feeling that they’d only allow them if the author had an existing track record of good sales with loyal fans. If you’re self-publishing and have interacted with your readers via social media, then an afterword continues this relationship.

Have any of you written afterwords?

Do you appreciate them in a book you’re reading?

Or, do you think they’re a waste of time…too self-indulgent and an unnecessary tearing down of the fourth wall?

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