Category Archive for ‘progress’
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…
Kinda quiet round here the last week or two, huh?
Partly that’s because some of the stuff I used to put up here is better suited to twitter, where I’m now reasonably active and even occasionally quite amusing, though I say so myself. You can follow me there at @LordGrimdark.
Partly that’s because I haven’t recently drunk, watched or played anything that’s really stimulated a substantial response.
And partly it’s because a couple of things that have been a long time in the works are just now coming to a head, so there may be some significant announcements and discussion soon to appear…
In the meantime I’ve been writing some short stuff set in the First Law World:
Some Desperado is a Shy South story appearing in Martin & Dozois’ forthcoming cross-genre, multi-author anthology extravaganza Dangerous Women, further details of which GRRM has now announced, due to be published in the US December 3rd.
Tough Times all Over is a chunky 12,000 word story set in Sipani, the City of Fogs and Whispers, and featuring several familiar faces, due to appear in Martin and Dozois’ other forthcoming heavyweight cross-genre anthology Rogues, publication details for which we’re still awaiting.
Skipping Town is old school sword and sorcery for a forthcoming anthology of original stories in honour of David Gemmell, hopefully due later this year and featuring my hilarious odd couple pairing of Shev and Javre, Lioness of Hoskopp, the female Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser. Kinda.
Then we’ve got three other stories more closely related to the First Law and due (possibly, maybe, probably) to appear in new editions of the trilogy.
A Beautiful Bastard is told from the point of view of Quartermaster Salem Rews, and focuses on that daring fencing champion, infamous romancer, and dashing hero of the Union, Colonel Sand dan Glokta, and his attempts to defend a certain bridge in dusty Gurkhul…
Hell documents the fall of Dagoska from the point of view of a young and idealistic acolyte by the name of Temple.
Made a Monster focuses on the attempts of Bethod to finally end his spiralling feuds, bring peace, and pass on something to be proud of to his sons. The squabbling chieftains of the North are always hard to deal with, but the worst obstacle is on his own side – his terrifying champion, the Bloody-Nine…
Further details on where you can get hold of these as I have them. But additionally there will at some stage be a collection of all my short stories set in the First Law world, including these six. My rough guess on that (and it really is rough) is mid 2015.
So, Red Country has been well and truly out for three months, the touring well and truly over, the reviews chewed through, the sales examined, the dust settled.
I find myself now in a slightly unusual position as I watch the snow drift down past my study window and render the pavements of Bath totally impassible for picking up kids from school. In the past, when a book was published, I was usually well underway with the next one. Indeed when The Blade Itself came out in 2006, I’d already finished a decent draft of Before They are Hanged and was well underway with Last Argument of Kings. Not long after that I was starting to think about what would come when the trilogy was finished, and cooked up the rough ideas for Best Served Cold, The Heroes, and Red Country. I’ve been steadily executing that plan, writing in the same world and in loose continuation, ever since, although my head start on each book when the previous one was published has got less and less.
I’ve got a contract for three more books in the First Law world, and those will be a trilogy, and I have some rough ideas about what the content and characters might be. Very rough. But this time around, I’ve scarcely started even on the planning. With every book I’ve finished I’ve told myself (not to mention promised close family members) that I’d take a break, and each time after about an hour off I’ve started getting twitchy about the next thing and cracked straight on.
But Red Country was pretty draining. Not that I’m not totally delighted with the results because, you know, brilliant book and all that, but I found it hard work. Felt burned out at times. Felt like I was having to reach a long way for new ideas, new ways of doing things. It was not, at all times, a joyous process. So now seems a good time to take a break, do some reading, do some thinking, recharge the creative batteries. Obviously a break is relative, there are still a load of administrative things that require my attention plus a few little projects I’m steadily working at and may have announcements related to in due course, but for the next couple of months, no full-length First Law stuff on the go.
Now, since it’s a trilogy I’m going to take a stab at next, there’s going to be a fair bit more planning involved than usual. I also have a crazy notion that I’d like to draft the whole trilogy first, then fine tune and edit each book in turn for publication. That will hopefully mean a) that the trilogy can be as coherent and cohesive as possible, since there’ll be no rush to publish the start without really knowing all the details of the end, and b) that the three books can be published on whatever well-prepared schedule seems best rather than being fumbled out arbitrarily which will c) ideally be the best thing both creatively and commercially. What can be the downside to this rapid and regular publication of a supremely well-planned, coherent and high-quality series, I hear you cry? You have probably guessed already. A long wait for the first book. Exactly how long a wait I can’t say ’til I get going, I hope that, as with the First Law, things will go slowly at first then speed up as I get my head around the characters. But we will see.
In any case, for the time being, I’m on a break.
It’s not all whisky and video games down my way, you know. I mean, mostly, of course, but not ALL. Work continues, and I finally have a second draft of Red Country. A coherent, cohesive draft with all the characters in their proper place and the right events happening at the right time and the right people thinking, saying and doing roughly the right things. A draft I could present to someone to read without saying, ‘ignore this, and oh, this doesn’t work, and oh, I’m not sure about that, and assume this section will be a lot less, you know, shit.’ A book, you might even say. It felt like this moment would never come at one time, so it’s good to see it all dropping into place. Still plenty to do, though. This week I’m taking a look through the chapters of one of the two central characters, who’s seen a lot of changes during the writing process, and whose chapters have been heavily, if not totally, rewritten at the front, to try and ensure some consistency, that key events of the past are mentioned enough but not too much, that there’s a good shape to his development and the way he thinks about things, that concerns established for him at the start pay off later. Having stripped everything down, possibly adding a little background, texture, and personality back in where appropriate to get this character working as well as possible.
At the same time, horror of horrors, I’m reading the First Law again, probably for the first time in quite a while. The main purpose is to familiarise myself with how returning characters came across, make sure they feel consistent in this book with what’s come before, check if there are any recurring bits of speech or thought I should be echoing here, any key events of the past that might be significant. Strange thing, re-reading old work. I’ll probably post some feelings when I’m done.
On Friday I’ve got a meeting with my editor when she’s going to bring me a marked-up manuscript, and the nitty-gritty changes will get underway. Aaargh, feel the burn!