Category Archive for ‘progress’
Posted on August 29th, 2014 in progress
Half a King came out in early July and made no. 3 on the Sunday Times hardcover list, and at a competitive time of year too. Even more pleasing is that it then stuck in the top 10 for 4 weeks. Preorders give you a big boost that first week, so you’ll often see books pop onto the list strongly the week of release but drop straight off. Sticking around tends to mean your book is not only selling to your committed fans but also selling strongly off the shelves, which is a very promising sign.
With all the touring and events however, including Comic Con in San Diego and Worldcon in London, most of July and August got swallowed up by travel and signing and blah, blah, blah. What with the stress and the jet lag and the convention hangovers I’ve always found it tricky to make a lot of progress with writing while on the road, usually sticking to a bit of light reviewing, planning and reading over rather than drafting new stuff, but things do grind inexorably forward.
I did my last reading through and checking over the detail of the language on the second Shattered Sea book, Half the World, at the start of July, and in a highly nimble bit of production work Harper Collins had proofs of the book ready for Worldcon in mid August:
‘Andsome, eh? Once again they’ve gone for an impactful quote on the front with the title on the spine. These will be making their way out into the world over the coming weeks and are to excite folk in the trade, of course, the actual hardcover will have a cover in keeping with the previous one. Half the World is now copy edited too and therefore, aside from the proof-reading phase, basically done. Nothing (at least on the creative side) stands in the way of US and UK publication in early February 2015.
I’m now half way through the first draft of the last book in the trilogy, Half a War. This is pretty much always my lowest ebb with a book. The excitement of starting something new is far behind, but generally you’re still a way off getting the plot and the characters completely straight in your head and the whole thing feels plodding and dull. Oh god will I ever write a good book again? It is some help, though less than you’d think, that I know I’ve felt this way about every book since I finished the First Law. These shorter books do give you less time to get into character, as it were, though, and it doesn’t help that I’ve gone from one point of view character in Half a King, to two in Half the World, to three in Half a War, therefore there’s less time spent with each and at the moment they’re twisting about like snakes with their heads cut off as I struggle to smash them into a shape that fits the (constantly changing) plot. Still, I think I’ve now got a decent plan for the second half of the book which should provide some interesting moments. I just need the characters to be the people who’d do the type of stuff I’ve got in mind, and that means a fair bit of rewriting in the earlier parts. Sigh. So it goes. I’m still a heavy planner, but I find over time my process is getting more and more fluid. The basic plot I have in advance, but the details of how and who and why I get there shift around a lot more than they used to.
Anyway, this year’s big clutch of events is behind me, and though I’ve got a couple of much smaller commitments, the next three months are largely clear to get a full first draft of Half a War together, so I can spend December doing the heavy lifting of rewriting the first half of the book and have a decent, coherent second draft by the end of the year. That should leave ample time to get the book out by its planned publication in July 2015. Such is the hope, anyway.
That is your progress report for August…
Posted on June 24th, 2014 in progress
Time sure does fly.
Fair bit of progress the past couple of months, and other than a little continuing work on the secret project I can’t tell you about and probably never will be able to tell you about hence shouldn’t have mentioned, work in May and June has all been on Half a King and sequels, which are now otherwise being called the Shattered Sea books. In reverse order:
The third book, Half a War: first part of four drafted, second part planned in detail, a pretty solid rough plan for the other two parts. Hoping to get the second part drafted over July and August around the many events and touring commitments I’ve got going on for Half a King, though I know from experience it can be tough to get much done as far as writing new stuff goes while on the road. Still, if I can get most of the second part squared away by the end of August, that gives me September, October, November largely free to concentrate on getting parts 3 and 4 drafted, with a view to having a solid 2nd draft by the end of the year. That should work for a July 2015 publication date. Pretty happy with how this book’s going, generally, though it’s still early. Subsequent books in a series are usually that bit easier as you’ve got a lot of the story lines up and running and the setting defined, but these books are slightly different from what I’ve done before in that each book introduces different point of view characters. We shall see…
The second book, Half the World: Written and edited. Still needs a final pass through to consider the detail of the language before it goes for copy edit, but I should be able to get that done while on the trains around the UK at the start of July, and I’m reaching the point now where I’m very pleased with how this one has turned out. Half the World is more or less certain for a Feb 2015 release, though I don’t quite have a specific date yet.
The first book, Half a King, meanwhile, is printed, distributed, and will be released on the 3rd July in the UK, 15th July on the US. I might take the opportunity to say it’s available for pre-order on amazon at a 62% reduced cutting-my-own-throat discount price of £5 for the hardcover and £4.35 for the Kindle edition. Seems like only yesterday I was meeting with publishers to discuss the possibility of this series and now, suddenly, here it is, greeting the public. Early signs are really good, but that never stops a writer crapping their pants, of course, especially since this book is with new publishers both sides of the pond and aimed at a (slightly) different audience. Promotional work has been grinding into gear over the last couple of months – I signed 3,000 copies a few weeks back for Waterstones and other retailers, and I’ve got a fair bit more stock to sign for Goldsboro Books and others over the next couple of weeks. Few interviews and blogs been done as well, along with some talking to bookseller style events, and the UK tour kicks off on 29th June with Edinburgh and will then wend its way around England. Further details here. I’ll then be in and around the west coast of the US from the 22nd June. Further Details here. And I’ll be at Celsius 232 festival along with Brandon Sanderson and Pat Rothfuss in Aviles, Spain 1st-3rd August.
That is your progress report for June…
It’s been a slightly bitty and pernickety couple of months since the last progress report at the end of February. A big part of April got taken up with a hugely exciting secret project the details of which I cannot reveal and probably never will be able to reveal and hence I should never have mentioned in the first place. Half a King plunges toward publication, now firmly slated for July 3rd in the UK and July 15th in the US, and the load of publicity and promotional work, blogs and interviews begins to wind up. It feels like a long old time since I last put a book out – Red Country was all the way back in November 2012 – so I’m rather looking forward to the excitement (and panic) of putting something new in front of readers.
The sequel, Half the World, got a pretty darn good reception from my various editors and agents in the UK and US, I’m delighted to say, but there are still a fair few comments to attend to, not to mention a few things I’d like to look at again and a general smoothing of the language, which I’ll be tackling in May, but nothing that should interfere with its slated publication date of Feb ’15.
Meanwhile I now have a pretty solid plan for the third book, Half a War, a detailed chapter breakdown for the first part, and have drafted the first three chapters, one from each of its point of view characters. I’ll be taking a further look at those over coming weeks, mulling them over, trying to get into the characters’ heads and develop a bit more of an individual style for each of them. Then I’ll be cracking on with the drafting end of May/June in the hope of making a firm start on the second part before the events for Half a King get seriously underway in July.
I’ve also finished up three short stories that are intended to fit into some new editions of the First Law later on this year. The Blade Itself one, A Beautiful Bastard, is an episode from Glokta’s past, the Last Argument of Kings one, Made a Monster, is an episode from Logen’s, the Before They are Hanged one, Hell, gives a little insight into what happened when Dagoska fell to the Gurkish from the point of view of a young acolyte called Temple. More details on when and how these will be available later, but they’ll definitely be in a comprehensive collection of all my First Law short stories which should be appearing some time in 2016.
Also in that collection will be Tough Times all Over, a 12,000 word novelette which is appearing first in George RR Martin and Gardner Dozois’ latest cross-genre heavyweight anthology, Rogues, which is coming out June 17th in the US (I’m not sure there’s currently a UK publisher for it) and will also feature stories from Gillian Flynn, Neil Gaiman, Pat Rothfuss, Connie Willis and Scott Lynch among many others, not to mention GRRM himself.
That is your progress report for April.
Posted on February 27th, 2014 in progress
Excellent progress since early December, I’m pleased to say, partly due to *ahem* lack of interesting video game releases. Half a King is done and copyedited and done and proofread and done and TOTALLY DONE. ARCs are out in the wild and even now being read and reacted to. WITH UNIVERSAL JOY AND AWESTRUCK ADMIRATION. Publication is early July 2014, US and UK.
Better yet, the second book in this trilogy, Half the World, is done too! Well, I say done, the finished second draft has gone off to my early readers for a first opinion, which I shall attend to and absorb along with some thoughts of mine during March to produce a totally done 3rd draft. Which will then go to editors for further changes. Some more detail on exactly how those processes go down in due course. There’s a fair bit of work still to do on the book, that’s sure, but I think one would have to say that Half the World is looking very good for its provisional publication date of Feb 2015, a mere seven months after Half a King drops.
Alongside the editing of Half the World I’m going to be getting started this month on the planning of the third book, Half a War, with a view to getting the drafting underway in April, with a view to getting the book half done by the time I start travelling for Half a King’s release in July, with a view to getting it finished by the end of 2014, with a view to getting it published a mere five months after Half the World in July 2015. All three out within 12 months. That’s a pretty challenging schedule, but at the moment it’s looking doable. We shall see…
Also got a quick First Law-related short story to knock out in March with a view to getting a collection of all my short fiction together for probably an early 2016 publication. Then we’re on to more adult fantasy in the First Law world, with a very, very provisional pub date of some time 2017. If I haven’t gone insane. Or perhaps if I have.
That is your progress report for February.
Well, kind of. I’ve spoken before of how you (or at least I) never really get that moment of glorious satisfaction when you clack out the words THE END on your typewriter, whizz the final sheet from the drum, plonk it on top of the crisp heap of typescript and allow yourself that one cigarette a year.
For one thing, I rarely write stuff properly in sequence. For another, finishing a draft is where some of the most important work begins – the revision. In the case of Half the World I limped over the finish line late last night when I suddenly realised I’d closed up the last gap in the second-to-last chapter, the last one having been written a couple of days before.
I still need to do the most basic revision on the last of four parts, which is where I read each chapter, often for the first time, chop stuff around, cut stuff out, fix basic errors, and generally smooth it all off to the point that it’s at least readable, if not necessarily good. That’ll probably take me most of next week, then the task of really going through and making the whole thing into a coherent, consistent book will happen in February and March.
So there’s a long way to go, a lot of things to add, a lot of things to cut, a lot of laborious filing and polishing and shaping, but it cannot be denied that I now have a complete draft of Half the World. And, what’s more, it’s not even my next book. Half a King is due out in July this year, and is completely finished, Advance Reader Copies going out to writers and reviewers even as we speak. Half the World is due in February 2015. Been a long, long time since I was a book ahead like this. Still, the last book in this trilogy, Half a War, is currently loosely slated for July 2015, which means getting that finished by the end of this year. No rest for the grimdark…
Happy Birthday to Me. Happy Birthday to Me. Happy Birthday dear MEEEE-EEEEE. Three cheers, anyone?
Yes, indeed, another year has flowed beneath the bridge at ever-increasing speed and I am 39 today. It’s round about 12 years since I started writing The Blade Itself back in 2001. Some 9 years since I signed my first book deal, and 7 and a half years since The Blade Itself was published in 2006, would you believe. Got a feeling it’s hard to argue that I’m new on the scene any longer… An interesting year this has been. Didn’t publish any new novels, but I made some big deals for three and wrote most of two of those.
Let’s break it down a little, shall we…?
A YEAR IN BOOKSELLING – In spite of all my complaints, I really can’t complain. No new novels published, though I did have short stories in a couple of anthologies: Legends and Dangerous Women. The Blade Itself continues to come out in languages and territories that have yet to be exposed to the sunny radiance of my literary presence – I think we’re up to nearly 30 translation deals now. Partly due to the huge success of GRRM’s Game of Thrones, I’m sure, The First Law books, especially the trilogy, would seem to be selling better and wider than ever. Which is nice. I’m told all six books, in all languages and formats, have sold somewhere around 3 million copies now, which really does beggar belief for stuff I dreamed up in the middle of the night for my own amusement. Less travelling this year, but a much enjoyed second visit to my pals at Celsius in Spain, and my first trip to Russia saw 250 people in a bookstore in St. Petersburg and a sleeper train back to Moscow with a very nice man who works in oil and gas called Mikhail. I spent most of June locked in negotiations for the publishing of my new YA (ish) trilogy which will be starting in July in the UK and US with Half a King, more detail on all of that over here. It looks as if 2014 might be a very big year for me…
A YEAR IN BOOK WRITING – A strong year, especially at the start and end. Quite possibly my most productive ever, certainly since 2007ish when I was finishing the First Law, long before I was a full-time writer and there were so many child-based and administrative demands on my time. I wrote the second half of Half a King, revised and edited it, planned Half the World and drafted three quarters of it, and wrote three short stories. Overall the move to a (slightly) different style of writing does feel like it’s done something to refresh my interest and recharge the batteries though, you know, it’s amazing how fast work becomes work again…
BOOKS – A level of reading that makes last year’s pitiful level look amazing, and most of what I did read was non-fiction about vikings. One thing that I did very much enjoy was Bernard Cornwell’s Saxon Chronicles starting with The Last Kingdom. Strongly written adventure stuff with some great battle scenes and a feeling of authenticity. I burned through four of them while in Russia, then got stalled on the fifth. Perhaps a slight sense of diminishing returns when read back to back. Otherwise, my tottering to read pile just gets ever higher. Don’t think that bad boy’s going to get any smaller, now…
TV and FILM – Boy it’s been slim pickens film-wise, I have to say, adding considerably to my ongoing conviction that the interesting stuff mostly happens on the small screen these days. Can’t think of anything that really did much for me at the cinema since I squeezed into the most packed viewing ever to see Les Mis back in January. Those big scifi and superhero blockbusters I saw didn’t do masses for me. I liked Star Trek Into Darkness a hell of a lot more than its predecessor, but that isn’t saying all that much. Kick-Ass 2 was entertaining but not exactly deep. Pacific Rim I thought was mostly nonsense and, no, geekdom, not in a good way. Man of Steel I didn’t even enjoy thinking about watching. The Hobbit – The Desolation of Smaug was a good deal better than the first instalment but a long way short of the Lord of the Rings, with the story bloated up like a steroid-popping body builder losing all charm and personality in favour of ACTION and SPECTACLE. Ah, well. TV was a great deal more promising. Breaking Bad got better and better (or possibly worse and worse) though I haven’t yet seen the final episodes so SHUT UP SHUT UP. Game of Thrones Season 2 was good, sometimes very good, after a slightly wobbly oversexed start. Hannibal was largely riveting stuff with some awesome design and some great performances, Vikings was an interestingly off-beat and authentic-feeling effort that I look forward to the continuation of, Hell on Wheels 1 and 2 were also promising. Justified Season 3 continued to improve on the sparky character-led police hijinks of the previous two series. Spartacus Vengeance was more of the same brilliant/awful lurid schlock. The Danes offered us a great final season of Borgen, and a not-so-great final season of the Killing. The French offered us the initially gripping and ultimately baffling The Returned. Sons of Anarchy I find watchable enough in the main but I wouldn’t be that bothered if I saw no more. Dexter still offers a few things to like but is really dribbling away by Season 6. I enjoyed Season 2 of the Walking Dead in spite of many issues, however they’ve sorted out most of those by a storming Season 3, the end of which I haven’t quite got to. Probably the most pleasure I got out of TV was soaking through my t-shirts with tears watching the full five season run of Friday Night Lights. You wouldn’t think a show about a Texas High School football team would be my cup of tea at all but, heavens, the acting, the scripting, the storytelling, the commentary on american life, the raw emotions. Brilliant Stuff. I’m tearing up again! Help me, coach, teach me how to be a man! Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose…
GAMES – After a slightly disappointing 2012, 2013 will be remembered as an absolutely vintage year. Good stuff often happens at the end of a hardware generation and some of this year’s releases were particularly noticeable not only for their technical strengths but for their strengths in character and narrative. The White-Knuckle Tomb Raider Reboot then the Mind-Bending Bioshock: Infinite both delivered powerful central story lines. For me, in spite of a far smaller budget, Telltale’s harrowing Walking Dead video game got closer to the holy grail of interactive drama than the fascinating yet flawed Beyond: Two Souls. Grand Theft Auto 5 was pretty triumphant however you look at it. The one player campaign may not quite have had the depth and thematic cohesion some of the previous outings offered, but for sheer quantity of content and realisation of a living, breathing, beautifully detailed free-roaming game world it is untouchable, and its multiplayer incarnation was rich and varied enough to get me finally playing something online for a significant chunk of time. In spite of the fierce, fierce competition, though, my game of the year has to be the magnificently stark and uncompromising The Last of Us, which for boldness, characterisation, detail of setting, richness of experience, seamless fusion of action and story and sheer narrative drive from first frame to last set new standards for scripted games.
BEST REVIEWS – No new books means no significant splurge of reviews, and I must confess that I’m finding reviews as a whole just a lot less fascinating than I used to. Partly it’s that you see the same points and arguments repeated over and over, partly it’s that I’m just not as fresh and interesting and review worthy as I once was, partly it’s that when you put together a hundred reviews of a book you tend to see pretty much every viewpoint expressed somewhere, and partly it’s that there seems to be less and less connection between the critical and commercial spheres and, I dunno, the commercial sphere just interests me a lot more. It seems more honest in the main. I get bored by the contempt for success and the celebration of obscurity you seem to get from a lot of ‘serious’ critics. Still, no doubt when people start to react to Half a King I’ll be glued to the interwebs for every grain of opinion once again…
CONTROVERSIES – Ongoing criticism of cynicism and darkness in fantasy, not to use that elusive term ‘grimdark’, caused me to write a post on The Value of Grit early in the year, which prompted a fair bit of response, but in a way it’s a reheating and re-examination of a familiar circular argument. There’s a degree to which, once you’ve spent a fair bit of time about the internet genre scene, you start to see the same comments and controversies coming up over and over in one guise or another and you’re forced to wonder whether you have any further substantial contribution, or even frothy outrage, to offer. That, and the fact I’ve talked about pretty much every aspect of the publishing scene at one time or another has caused me to cut back on the blogging slightly this year. I’m still going to be talking about TV, games, whisky, publishing, my forthcoming work, and all the other stuff I’ve always talked about when there are substantial posts to make, but I’m also reasonably active on Twitter these days (@LordGrimdark), and some of the smaller comments and announcements (not to mention arguments) are happening over there…
Happy new year, readers!
Posted on December 2nd, 2013 in progress
One could be forgiven for thinking this was just a video game review site over the last couple of weeks, but let us remember that it also serves as the mouthpiece for internationally recognised multiple award nearly-nominated author Joe Abercrombie. What’s he been up to over the last couple of months, and what forthcoming works can serve as bright beacons in the otherwise pitifully hopeless futures of readers of dark yet thought provoking, violent yet amusing fantasy everywhere…?
Well, my [kind of YA kind of crossover whatever the hell it is] new book Half a King is now fully copy edited and therefore basically finished, with discussions about covers and copy and all that good stuff well underway on both sides of the pond. Current publication date is July 8th 2014 from Del Rey in the US, and a not totally specific though probably very similar July date from Harper Collins in the UK, but ARCs should start to appear, hopefully, in the next couple of months.
But you know that righteousness never sleeps, and I’m already half way through a draft of the second book in the trilogy, Half the World. Long time followers of this blog will know that the drafting is the bit I really dislike (a writer that likes writing? Puh-lease!), especially the front of a book, but I think this one’s starting to come together now, and will, of course, in my unbiased opinion, be FANTASTIC. I’m a little behind my initial, ludicrously over-optimistic schedule, but still well on target to have this one comfortably finished by the time Half a King is unleashed, hopefully with the 3rd and final book, Half a War, well underway. I flipping despise those series which have themed titles that just change a little bit with each iteration, don’t you? Then I went and did it. I like to say that I’ve reinvented and subverted the concept, though, whatever the hell that means. The dream is that these other two instalments will publish six months apart – so in Jan 2015 and July 2015 – but that’s very much not set in stone at this point. We shall see.
Meanwhile in the world of short fiction, my story Some Desperado is appearing in GRRM and Gardner Dozois’ multi-author anthology Dangerous Women, which is available right now in the UK and publishes tomorrow in the US. I’ve got another sizeable story, Tough Times All Over, written in a many character mosaic styley in their next multi-author anthology, Rogues, which I believe is due early next year, we shall see. Then there are two other stories in the First Law world, one involving a key moment in the relationship between the young Lieutenant West and the dashing Colonel Glokta, another a key moment in the relationship between Bethod and the Bloody-Nine, already written, soon to be joined by a third, and likely appearing some time next year in new editions of the First Law. I’ve then only got three or four more stories to write before we have enough to put together a collection of my short work in the First Law world, which in theory should drop late 2015/early 2016.
By then I should hopefully be well underway with my next major project, another trilogy set in the First Law world, set some years after the end of Red Country. This is at an embryonic stage right now, and I’m keen to get a solid plan, and hopefully a rough draft, of the entire trilogy before we publish the first book. That’ll mean putting off publication of book one, but hopefully a faster, more regular and better managed publication of the best books possible thereafter. But it also means I wouldn’t expect to see the first one before 2017 at the earliest. Obviously it’s on the back-burner at the moment.
That’s everything on the work front right now, I think. No appearances scheduled in the next few months, but there’ll be a LOT next summer, including but not limited to Worldcon in London, Edge Lit in Derby, and Comic Con in San Diego. Until then, work, work, work, which means posting around these parts may continue to be light. For more regular updates, plus hilarious badinage (of course) you can follow me on twitter, should you so desire.
The dream with this new trilogy was to gloriously complete a draft of the second book and a detailed plan for the third by the end of the year, therefore 6 or 7 months before publication of the first book, leaving time enough to edit the first book in the light of all I had learned about the series. I hadn’t thought through this very clearly, however (surprise, surprise). Because this is a new style of work, with new publishers wanting the attention of a wider spread of critics, authors, booksellers, and other advance readers, some of whom won’t have heard of me before, they want to get Advance Reader Copies (Otherwise called ARCs, proofs, or galleys) out before the end of the year. That means having a fully edited, finished, polished manuscript by end of September. There’ll probably be the opportunity to make a couple of changes after that point, if the way the future books are developing necessitates a pointer or an addition, but the heavy lifting needs to be done over the next few weeks.
I have at least got a good 20,000 word draft of the first part of the second book, and a reasonable plan for the rest, and doing that much has given me some new characters and world details that need to be slipped into the first book, some concepts that maybe need a little development, and some different emphases on existing characters that will be important later. I’ve taken that stuff, along with a few things that I’ve thought of myself, and collected it together with the opinions of five or six various readers and editors, and sorted it all into a list of changes in three categories. First of all come significant specific changes – things like an additional exchange to deepen the relationship between two characters, or that a decision should be made by the central character rather than be a suggestion of a secondary one, or that the death of a certain character isn’t having the desired effect, and needs looking at again to see if it can impact more on the characters and therefore the reader. These ones I’ll address first, hopefully this week.
Next come more general tweaks, still important, but not necessarily to be implemented in a certain place – so a greater sense of urgency about the development of a sub-plot, or a relationship that needs to be given a different emphasis or extra significance. Finally there are minor points which might be addressed wherever appropriate, often details of worldbuilding or background which just need dropping in somewhere. These two groups I’ll try and do in the next couple of weeks while reading through.
Making changes is always a bit tricky. The text has a tendency to ‘set’ once you’ve read it a few times, it’s hard to bring yourself to break it all up again. Although you made all this stuff up, and can make any change you like, I find I get into a mindset of, ‘I can’t change that, that’s what happened.’ But it’s generally wise to carefully weigh every comment and address them wherever you can. Often you find your own way of addressing a comment which you’re much happier with than a suggestion. You can often kill several birds with one well-judged change. A few lines of careful dialogue can introduce backstory, add depth to secondary characters, deepen and complicate their relationships with the primary, change pace, add telling detail etc. etc. The more the whole story and the various issues to address are present in your mind, the more you’re submerged in the book, the better your chances of editing effectively.
There’ll be a quick pass through to attend to my editor’s detailed mark-up, which often means taking out phrases hear or there to move things along, or adding some small point of clarification. I personally hate tracking changes in Word, I find it really hard to properly read over and judge what things look like once the change is made, and the differences in font and format really freak me out, so I generally have two documents up together – one with the edits and one with my document as I’ve worked on it throughout. Finally another go over, probably with the text made really big on the screen, just to smooth things out and improve the writing where anything occurs. Big text, who can say, helps me to look at it differently sometimes, to consider the details.
It ain’t that long a book, so hopefully that’ll all be done over the next three weeks or so.
Posted on August 8th, 2013 in announcements, news, progress
There were a couple of minor contractual wrinkles to iron out, but I can now reveal that Half a King and its two sequels will be published in the US and Canada by none other than Del Rey. Their announcement is over here. Jonathan Lyons and Ginger Clarke at Curtis Brown negotiated the deal with Editorial Director Tricia Narwani. The current plan is to publish the first book simultaneously with the UK in July 2014, the two sequels at six-monthly intervals. There’s also a really significant separate deal for the US audio rights with Recorded Audio. Indeed the size of that deal is an indication of the great strength of the audiobook market – it’s a brave new world out there.
As with the UK situation, this is a separate and complementary thread of publishing, and it isn’t a split from my current adult publisher, Orbit US, who will be continuing to publish the standalones, and have an existing deal for a short story collection in the First Law world and another trilogy in due course. There are some more details about the books, and how this project came to be, in my earlier announcement. We’ve also sold Spanish and Brazilian translation rights to go alongside French and German. More details about those deals as they’re announced.
From a progress standpoint, I’m finishing up a 20,000 word draft of the first part of the second book, Half the World, which has given me a slightly firmer idea of how the series will progress, and should help when I go back to tackle editorial notes on the first book over the next month or two. All go around here, I tell you what…
Posted on July 19th, 2013 in announcements, news, progress
What does an obsessive workaholic writer do with six months off?
Writes a book, of course.
The one I finished a few weeks ago is called Half a King. My agent Robert Kirby has expertly orchestrated a major deal in the UK and Commonwealth with HarperCollins, where it’s been jointly acquired by Nick Lake on the young adult side, and by Jane Johnson and Emma Coode for Harper Voyager on the adult fantasy side. An announcement in The Bookseller is over here, and on Harper Voyager’s blog (with a tiny little description) over here. Robert also brought in some new agents (for me) in the US, the wonderful Ginger Clarke and Jonathan Lyons at Curtis Brown who expertly orchestrated major US deals for print and for audio, the details of which should become clear later as the sun rises over the land of the free. The current plan, subject to change, of course, is to publish the book simultaneously across the English-speaking world in July 2014, with two sequels following at six monthly intervals in January and July 2015. Translation rights have already been sold in German to Heyne and French to Bragelonne with negotiations in other languages very much underway.
In some ways this is a very different sort of book from what I’ve written so far. It’s aimed partly at younger readers (maybe the 12-16 range). It’s much shorter – 80,000 words compared to 175,000 for my shortest, Red Country, and 230,000 for my longest, Last Argument of Kings (though still over twice the length of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, believe it or not). It’s set in a very different world with what you might call a viking or anglo-saxon feel. It’s much more focused, with a single point of view. It’s not so overtly ‘gritty’ although it’s a long way from smooth. It is punchy. It has drive. I aimed to deliver a slap in the face with every page.
Before some of you groan in horror at this wounding betrayal of all you believe in, I also wrote this with established readers, and indeed with a wider adult readership, very much in mind. In some ways it’s a very similar sort of book to what I’ve written so far. It’s fantasy, but light on the fantasy, and heavy on the vivid characters, the visceral action, the mixture of wit and cynicism, the twists and surprises. I hope that it will have a wide appeal. But I don’t feel that I’ve compromised on the way I’ve written. I think it’s as tough, surprising, challenging, and morally ‘grey’ as the rest of my output.
It’s very important to say that this is in no way a split from my current publishers Gollancz (and their parent Orion) in the UK and Orbit in the US. I cannot emphasise enough that Gollancz – and in particular my editor, Gillian Redfearn – have been and continue to be a brilliant, brilliant publisher for me. They fished The Blade Itself from the slush pile, more or less, and have built on the success of every book, to the point where The Heroes and Red Country both made the Sunday Times Hardcover Bestseller list. They’ve made deals in no less than 26 foreign territories and sold somewhere around 3 million of my books across the world in paper, audio and electronic formats. That’s quite an achievement and I’m hugely grateful for the opportunities they’ve given me and the work they’ve put into making my books a success.
Gollancz will continue to publish the six First Law books in the UK (along with Orbit and Pyr in the US) – with their accustomed inspiration and aplomb, I do not doubt – and in due course will be publishing a collection of short stories (which hopefully will appear in late 2015/early 2016) as well as another trilogy set in the First Law world. That trilogy is in the works, but there was always going to be a significant gap in the adult publishing while I worked out what I was going to do with it. I wouldn’t bet on seeing the first one in your bookstore (or on your preferred e-reading platform) before 2017.
Some background on how this came about.
I’ve published six hefty adult fantasy books in seven years. Although I’ve tried to make them all different in some ways – different structures, different settings, different points of view – they’re all pretty beefy, they’re all set in the same world, they have a similar tone, they cover some of the same ground. Though I’m very happy with and proud of the result, Red Country was a difficult book to write. I felt at times somewhat uninspired. Somewhat burned out. I really didn’t want, as I had every time in the past, to go straight on to working on the next book in the First Law world right after finishing one. I felt the need to step back, recharge the batteries, try something at least a little bit different. But at the same time I didn’t want the acorn to fall too far from the tree – I wanted it to be something that my established readers would enjoy, or perhaps even love with a flaming passion. I wanted to set up two separate lines of work that would complement each other creatively and commercially.
There were a couple of different options. One that I’d been toying with for a while was to do some sort of tie-in fiction, possibly to a video game that I really liked. Sounds like a step back, in a way, perhaps, but there’s a certain appeal to working within established parameters in someone else’s creation. Certainly if it’s a creation you like. I’d had a couple of very interesting approaches in that line. But in the end it just seemed like too much work ploughed into something I didn’t own and in the last analysis couldn’t control. The other option was to write fantasy in a new world, perhaps in a different style or form. I’d had a meeting with Nick Lake, YA (Young Adult, that is) publishing director at Harper Collins, a couple of years ago about the possibility of writing a YA fantasy, and I’d been turning over ideas in that line for a while. Then an idea came up which stuck, and started to develop, and draw in other ideas. So I wrote it.
I wrote the first part in October last year, between finishing Red Country and touring it. The initial idea had been to pitch that first 12,000 words or so along with a detailed plan, but I wanted that sample to really blow the doors off anyone who read it, and when it came to it I didn’t think I could make the front as good as I wanted to without getting to the end, and having a whole book finished with a plan for two more seemed like a much more powerful proposition. So I wrote the rest December to March, worked over and revised it in April, responded to reader comments and finished off in May. June I wrote a couple of short stories but on the whole the month was taken up with meetings and conversations with publishers and agents in the US and UK to work out these deals. Which is why my posting rate around here has been a little weak of late.
My plan now is that the two sequels, cautiously titled Half the World and Half a War, will be my main focus for the next year or so. I’m already a few chapters into the first draft of the second book. I hope to have those two books finished not long after the publication of Half a King in July 2014. Then I’ll start work on the adult trilogy in the First Law world. So that’s me kept pretty busy ’til … at least winter 2017, I’d say. Which is both rather nice and rather horrifying.
Oh. Maybe you want to know more about the actual content of this new book?
Guess you’ll have to wait just a little while for that.
But I think you’re going to like it…