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  • Writer's pictureKatherine Woodfine

The End of a Series

The final Taylor & Rose Secret Agents book Nightfall in New York has now been out for a month, and I've been reflecting on coming to the end of the story that began with The Clockwork Sparrow.

It feels a very long time since I first started writing about Sophie and Lil. I still vividly remember how it began - imagining what was to become the opening scene of The Clockwork Sparrow, where we see Sophie heading off to work at Sinclair's, rattling through the crowded London streets on a busy omnibus. I've been with Sophie and Lil on their adventures ever since, writing about them for the best part of a decade, so it feels very strange to have said 'farewell'. Yet I'm still confident that this was exactly the right moment to bring their adventures to a close.

It's been really wonderful to have so many lovely messages from readers over the last few weeks, who've been getting in touch to let me know how much they've enjoyed the end of the story. I've been asked one question many, many times over - a variation on 'is this REALLY the end?' Readers have asked if I'm going to do any more series about Sophie and Lil, whether I'll be writing any form of spin-off about any of the other characters from the series, or whether I plan to write any more set in the same 'world' as this story. The short answer is no - at the moment I have no plans to write any kind of a continuation, or spin-off. But never say never! I know how much I will miss Sophie and Lil and I'd certainly never say for sure that the door is closed. After all, who knows whether I might be inspired to write in the future?

Readers have also been asking me questions about the ending of Nightfall in New York and specifically about some of the elements that are left open, or unresolved. I'm not going to go into any details about that here, to avoid spoilers - but what I will say is that leaving the ending a little open was absolutely deliberate. Personally, as a reader, I don't always want every loose end to be neatly tied up, so I've intentionally left a little space for the reader's imagination to fill. That also felt particularly apt for Sophie and Lil. Sophie has already got used to the idea that there are some things about her past and her family that she may never know. But also, for both of them at this stage of their lives, the future is full of possibilities...

Now that I've finished writing the book, the story isn't mine any more - it belongs to the reader. It's up to you to make up your own mind what might come next - and really, that's by far the most fun!

As Nightfall in New York is the last Sophie and Lil story, I knew I wanted to celebrate it as much as possible. Covid has made that a little more challenging than I could ever have expected, but I've still been doing my utmost to enjoy the publication of the final book. There have been lots of amazing online celebrations, including a wonderful virtual event for Waterstones with three fellow historical fiction authors - Lucy Ivision, Ella Risbridger and Emma Carroll.

I also made my first trip to London in almost 18 months, celebrated with my wonderful editor Sarah Levison, and visited lots of bookshops with publicist (and friend) extraordinaire Nina Douglas to sign copies.

As part of this trip, I went to Waterstones Piccadilly - a moment which for me, brought the adventure full circle. If you've read the books, you probably know that the fictional Sinclair's department store (where Sophie and Lil's story first began) is situated in the same spot as Waterstones Piccadilly.

It's a shop that has a special place in my heart: I was there when I first discovered that The Clockwork Sparrow had become a Sunday Times bestseller, in 2015; I was there to celebrate being shortlisted for the Waterstones Children's Book Prize in 2016; and of course, I was also there to celebrate being the Waterstones Children's Book of the Month, including an absolutely amazing window-display. I've taken part in all kinds of events here, and I've also spent lots of time rummaging its shelves and buying books. Being here to celebrate the final book felt particularly special!

As well as my visit to London, I also took a little tour of bookshops close to me in Lancashire - you can currently find signed books at Waterstones Lancaster, Waterstones Preston, Ebb & Flo in Chorley, Book Bean & Ice Cream in Kirkham, Storytellers Inc in St Annes, and Waterstones Blackpool.

Next, I headed up to Edinburgh to visit bookshops and for a bit more of a celebration with my brilliant agent Louise. Here's a video of me reading from Nightfall in New York at the lovely Portobello Bookshop.

It's very strange to be at the end of such a long journey with beloved characters, and to be thinking about new writing projects and new horizons. Like Sophie and Lil at the end of Nightfall in New York, though, for the moment I'm enjoying the sense of possibility, and not quite knowing what might come next...

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