2018 in Review

December 31st, 2018

And so I find myself writing another new year’s eve review. What is it, my ninth, maybe? Which means another year must have sped by. Furthermore, it must be my birthday, and I must be 44 years old today. I know, I know, before you say anything, I don’t look it, but that’s really just because I haven’t taken any new author photos since 2009. It’s been an even crazier and more unsettled year in politics and events than the previous one, which set new standards for unsettled craziness. It’s also been an unusually busy and stressful year from a personal standpoint, as we spent nine months out of our house while the builders were in, only moving back in September and only really getting everything close to settled in the last month or two.

A YEAR IN BOOKSELLING – Stone me if it hasn’t been more than two years since I last published anything now (and that was a collection of short stories). A lengthy hiatus and one that’s left me feeling kinda left out of the publishing scene and very much looking forward to getting back. As a result I’ve done very little of the public events and so on, trying to keep my powder dry for next year, when I will explode back onto the scene with the publication of A Little Hatred, the first in a totally brilliant honest new trilogy, which is pretty much definitely coming to the US and UK, in hardcover and audiobook (read by the incomparable Steven Pacey) in September.

A YEAR IN BOOK WRITING – Two years without publication, but as anyone who’s been following this blog will know, I have been anything but idle as far as the writing goes. Indeed, despite all the other distracting shit going on in my life and in the world (or perhaps because of it – I tend to find myself more productive the more I have going on), I’ve had a hugely productive year by my standards. I drafted the full 180,000 words of the last book in my new trilogy (The Beautiful Machine), went back and revised and edited the first (A Little Hatred), and got half way through the difficult 2nd draft on the 2nd (The Trouble With Peace).

Proofs of A Little Hatred should start to wend their way out to critics, booksellers and taste-makers the world over in the new year, then I guess the copy-edit will come back soon after, with proof-read to follow to leave that book absolutely totally finally DONE in good time for the September release. First meetings about art have been happening both sides of the pond as well. Meanwhile I’ll be getting the 2nd draft of Book 2 finished to send to my editors for comments hopefully by the end of January or so. I never really start feeling confident about a book until long after it’s been out and a decent pool of reader opinion begins to develop, of course, but I feel it’s all going pretty well. Certainly I think it was a wise idea to do things this way, and draft the entire trilogy in one go, despite the long absence from the bookstores. I will aim to continue with the bi-monthly progress reports as things move forward…

TV AND FILM – Film-wise I watch less and less, and often these days it’s stuff I see with the kids. The Avengers: Infinity War I thought was a pretty good effort considering all the balls to juggle. Black Panther was good too but maybe I’m just getting a little tired of the superhero glut. I quite enjoyed the first Fantastic Beasts but I thought the second one was really pretty dire. First Man was well made but in the end spent a lot of time and effort to get a rather dull man to a very dull place. I was a little disappointed in Vice, having heard great things – some great performances and actor transformations but I’m not sure it really had a huge amount to say. I really quite liked weird ultra-violent mood piece You Were Never Really Here. But I think my favourite film of the year had to be The Incredibles 2. Just did exactly what it said on the tin very, very entertainingly. Also really enjoyed Green Book despite (or probably because of) hearing nothing about it – excellent central performances.

The floodgates of quality TV continue to stand open. Series I’ve particularly enjoyed this year, not necessarily first released this year, and probably forgetting a few: The Americans, The Last Kingdom, The Crown, Bosch, Narcos Mexico, Startup, Ozark, Trust (though it went on a bit), Killing Eve (despite a rather weak ending). Two series I really loved that are maybe a little less well-known would be Patriot – awesomely offbeat, occasionally hilarious, occasionally horrible, but always surprising, and the Italian import Gomorrah, which in a third season remains as grippingly unpleasant as ever – never have irredeemable brooding thugs stomping up concrete stairwells been so compelling.

GAMES – I found Far Cry 5 a bit weak – it’s been diminishing returns for that series ever since the excellent number 3. Assassins Creed Origins may have been last year for some of you but I only just played it, and liked it a lot. They make too many of these, but the good ones can be great. Illustrating that point nicely, I’ve also been playing Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and, I dunno – great setting, some cool mechanics, but a lot clunkier and blander than Origins – really quite weak in the writing department and the attempts to introduce dialogue choices don’t really seem to work. Monster Hunter World I enjoyed a lot – felt like quite a fresh combination of elements for me. Red Dead Redemption 2 was long awaited and, almost inevitably, perhaps, a remarkable experience, a world of unprecedented scale, depth and detail and an astonishing technical achievement. But the basic gameplay was a little hokey and dated, and the disposable gunplay fitted very uncomfortably with the powerful character-driven story they were trying to tell. So, for me, with the benefit of a little hindsight, I think my game of the year was the excellent God of War, which took a franchise notorious for its adolescent brainlessness and made something grown up and emotional out of it. Less vast ambition than Red Dead, perhaps, but a game in which all the elements: Design, Gameplay, Story, locked together perfectly.

THE YEAR AHEAD – 2018 was pretty fraught from a life perspective, so with any luck 2019 will be a bit calmer as we settle into the new house. Whether that will mean increased work output is something of an open question, but certainly there’ll be a fair bit more events and public engagement to do leading up to the release of A Little Hatred in September. Looks definite that I’ll be back in Aviles for Celsius in July, then at Worldcon in Dublin in August, then touring in the UK in September when the new book appears. We may well do some events in the US shortly afterward, but that’s yet to be confirmed – touring in the UK, where the distances are so much smaller, is a lot easier to justify. But I will let you all know when I know.

By the time A Little Hatred comes out, I hope that I’ll have The Trouble with Peace and The Beautiful Machine edited and complete, perhaps awaiting copy editing and proof-reading but basically squared away, leaving me time to consider that most terrible of all mid-career writing questions: what the fuck are you doing next? Still, it’s very very nice that people care…

Happy New Year, you beautiful bastards!

Posted in film and tv, games, news, progress, reading by Joe Abercrombie on December 31st, 2018.

41 comments so far

  • Julian says:

    September for the audiobook!?!? Argh!!!

  • Jens says:

    “What the fuck are you doing next?”

    Return to the Shattered Sea. 😉

    Happy New Year!

  • Ian Allen says:

    Hey Joe, big fan of the books and can’t wait for the new set, especially with Mr. Pacey for the audio books again!! I wondering if you had ever considered writing a game? You seem to have a great interest in gaming and for me, the writing in a game is paramount.

    Try it!!! 😀

    Love the work and the blogs man.


  • Scott says:

    Keep up the amazing work Joe and all the best to you and your family for 2019!

  • Twerker says:

    A year in reading? That’d be interesting, me thinks.

  • Yuri says:

    Happy Birthday!
    I wish your work to make you happy, because if your work will make you happy, I could buy it and make happy myself!

  • Mitchell Lurie says:

    My fiancee and I are just finishing up Red Country right now. I own hard copies of all of your books (including a numbered edition of my favorite, now our favorite, BSC), so she reads the hard copy while I read on the kindle, and we listen to Steven Pacey as we read. My first read through of each of your books was with a hard copy and no audio, but this makes for a nice experience with the old lady. I read a lot, but I have never enjoyed anything as much as I have enjoyed for books set in the First Law world. Shattered Sea was fun, but really looking forward to getting back to what made us all fall in love with you to begin with!

  • Carolus not Rex says:

    No fat contract för a TV-series in sight? Would have loved to see The first law universe come to life on screen. Let me know if you need input för any actors

  • hawkeyye says:

    Agree about Assassin’s creed Origins vs Odyssey. I LOVED Origins. I actually finished he game which I rarely do anymore. But Odyssey did nothing for me. Not sure why, everyone swore it was better but I couldn’t be arsed to play halfway through it, let alone finish it. Just never grabbed me.

  • Ian Killey says:

    Hi Joe,

    So excited to read A Little Hatred especially with the POV characters you have mentioned and hopefully catching up with some old friends.Can’t wait to see what Steven Pacey does with the voices too.

    Totally agree about God of War being the best game and love the Patriot. Wishing you a great birthday and hope you get the amazing book sales you deserve.I will be telling all my friends to buy it!

  • martymc says:

    Hi Joe. I look forward to your blog posts evry other month and as usual, you don’t disappoint. Really looking forward to the new book and hopefully see you in Liverpool on a boom signing in 2019.

  • Igor says:

    Happy Birthday (New Year), Joe! Wish you luck in the coming year! The story must go on! Would be great to see the first book translated into Russian soon.

  • Jesse says:

    So… disgustingly… excited!!!! Your writing combined with Steven Paceys reading is the best book experience on the planet!

  • ColinJ says:

    It was a pretty crap year for movies in general. Probably the best thing I saw was a Norwegian psychic thriller called THELMA. REVENGE was a great, nasty little pot-boiler from France. THE ENDLESS was a superb Lovecraftian puzzle of a film. TOMB RAIDER was a solid, entertaining adventure film that should have done much better (it’s this year’s THE A-TEAM).

    But most of what I saw, quite frankly, was plops.

  • Micah says:

    Happy birthday! Best Served Cold, The Heroes, Red Country, and Sharp Ends are all on their way to my doorstep and I can’t wait for the continuing story in September. TFL and TSS trilogies were incredible. Thanks for all you do, sir; and I hope 2019 is a calmer year for your whole family 🙂

  • David says:

    Happy birthday sir and a Happy New Year! Glad we will be getting A Little Hatred soon, can’t wait to read it. Condor is another underrated TV series that’s really good but the ending not so, probably because they’re preparing for the sequel…

  • MikeH says:

    Happy New Year, you beautiful bastard.

  • Darren says:

    Happy birthday and new year Joe.
    Thanks for the update and we’re all looking forward to returning to the first law world. Hearing what some old favourite characters have been up to is always a highlight but being introduced to the next generation is exciting and will keep us going for years to come.
    Any info on a date you’ll be releasing a teaser chapter?

  • Calum says:

    cant wait to have you back and Bad

  • Lukin says:


    Thats about as far as I made it before i blacked out. Unfortunately, i didnt fall into a coma and it’s not yet September.

  • Sandy says:

    ‘A Little Hatred’ Is wonderful news! But September seems such a long way off! At least it’s this year.
    Happy New Year and belated Happy birthday Joe.

  • Jeff says:

    Happy New Year and happy birthday! Congratulations on the progress with the new books and getting back in your home. Thanks for the updates, as a fan they really are appreciated.

  • Stephen Hunt says:

    Happy New Year, Joe.

    Hope the new trilogy goes well for you, old bean.


  • Prez says:

    Belated happy birthday and Happy New Year Joe! Can’t wait for the new material. I’m currently rereading the greatest book ever, “The Heroes”, never tire of it, sheer brilliance. Sounds like you had a pretty rough year on the domicile front, glad it’s all in the rearview now bro. Like you, I’m somewhat “super heroed out” re the movies. Hated “Spider-Man Homecoming” it was so P.C. it was ridiculous! Looking forward to your new work and the accompanying tour (Waterstones in Liverpool or Chester if you can make it please!). On your last tour you wished me well with my own novel, which should be out via Amazon this month. I’ll let you know when it’s sorted should you wish to give it a read! Currently involved in some copyright issues with a U.S. company re the cover art! Keep up the good work and hopefully see you in September!

  • Gerald says:

    calling the man who decided he could only mourn the loss of his daughter by walking on the fucking moon “rather dull” rather pisses me off.

  • Joe Abercrombie says:

    I’m not presuming to pass judgement on the man himself. I’ve never met him. Just that I did not find his portrayal in the film particularly interesting.

  • yves da chat says:

    HBD for 2018 Mr A, excited to hear we’ll be seeing new words in 2019.

    Though in answer to your Qu, regarding what to do next – i have it on good authority that with completion of said latest trilogy. Comes the long awaited anthology of the Shanka anthropological mating habits. Believe!

    Come on Joe, you know we want it…Total War Shanka!!!

  • Idan says:

    Belated happy New Year, Joe. Good to read you.

  • Billy says:

    I was wondering if you could shed some light on when this new trilogy is set? If you are wanting to keep it under wraps until release that is fine though. I’m just extremely curious because I love your books so much.

  • Black Jon says:

    Dear Mr Abercrombie,
    Happy Belated birthday. I finished “Red Country” recently and loved it. I loved the wilderness, the sheer size of the sky. I also loved “Before They Are Hanged” for the same reason. No books have made me laugh as much as yours sir, which is unusual for a violent, sword wielding fantasy series, featuring some of the most seedy people and places imaginable (The Agriont for one). These books made me laugh, cry and cheer. Thanks for the adventures Joe Abercrombie.

  • Black Jon says:

    Joe, please can I ask? Or if anyone else can answer. I read the first 6 books, loved them then heard about the “Half a King” and “Half a War” (sorry if the titles are incorrect) stories. I heard somewhere that they are for young adults and are not for the more mature reader. Is this the case? And will I feel like I’m reading a kids book or a proper Joe Abercrombie “Blade Iyself” type book?

  • Joe Abercrombie says:

    Black Jon,
    Shattered Sea aren’t quite so adult as the First Law, younger protagonists and a more Viking style world. But I’d like to think people who like the first law books have a good chance of liking those too.

  • Twerker says:

    Black Jon,
    I, for one, liked the “Halves”. BUT, all things considered, I wouldn’t recommend that series to (adult) peeps who haven’t experienced Joe’s offerings yet. To be perfectly candid, I think “The First Law” literally shatters “Shattered Sea”. Personal taste, of course.

  • Colonel Cordial says:

    Black Jon,
    I’m 30 and thought the shattered sea trilogy was superb and, for me, just as enjoyable as the first law trilogy. In many ways, I felt the ending to the Shattered Sea trilogy was, dare I say it, actually a bit better/tighter than the First Law conclusion.

  • Black Jon says:

    Thank you so much for your reply Mr Abercrombie! To have connected with one of my favourite authors feels amazing. I’m excited like a little girl meeting Mickey Mouse!
    It was my birthday recently and I received a gift card and have just bought the “Shattered Sea” trilogy.
    I can think of no better fantasy series to make the jump to the big screen than TFL. BUT, do you thimk the comedy would have to be dumbed down?
    I discovered your books by myself, which always makes them feel more special, and I would like to thank you for the hard work that gives us fans a book every year or two. There are some other fantasy authors who could take a leaf from your book, so to speak.

  • Black Jon says:

    Can’t believe I misspelled “Think” while messaging a hero of mine! It’s like having a kick about with Steven Gerrard while wearing an Everton shirt!

  • Black Jon says:

    Hey guys, just thought I’d add, I’ve started “The Shattered Sea” books and they are just as good as anything else Joe Abercrombie has written. Sure, the protagonist is younger than logen but in a way it makes for a different read. One that has the innocence of youth that we have all lost. ***** for me. *tips hat at Mr Abercrombie*

  • Black Jon says:

    Also, it’s cool to read a Joe abercrombie book that is set in a different world, with different rules and history.

  • Prez says:

    Hi Joe. As promised, I’m letting you know that my novel “S.O.S.” is now available through Amazon. It is written under my nom de plume of Robert C. Holmes. Some years ago you wished me luck in my endeavour and even put your comments in the sleeve of one of your novels. This was a real encouragement for me to get the thing done! It’s a powerful tale, based upon a true story, here’s the blurb:

    When life throws down the gauntlet, S.O.S. Motorcycle Club President Vince “Prez” Sinclair is there to take up the challenge. Ride with Prez as he grapples with the complexities of personal relationships and the dramas that threaten to engulf his family. Based upon actual events, this is raw. unflinching and gritty, yet extremely uplifting, everyday life and inner world of the S.O.S. Motorcycle Club. It will challenge your expectations and perceptions. Saddle up and prepare yourself for the emotional ride of your life…………………
    Thanks again for your best wishes and for giving me the motivation to complete my work through the many drafts and much soul searching. Cheers.

  • Black Jon says:

    I will download your book mate. Good luck. I too wish to make it as a writer. I was expelled from school and am now (22 years later) taking a degree in creative writing with the Open University. I got my first A for my first short story recently!

  • Michael Wren says:

    Good to hear!

    Do you ever get to Australia doing the promos?

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