February 2021 Archive

Progress Report February ’21

In some ways a strange, slow period at the start of the year. As lockdown drags on into infinity, and with the kids at home all the time, I must admit it’s sometimes difficult to make headway. So it’s nice that The Age of Madness is very close to finished. The final instalment, The Wisdom of Crowds, is still with the copy editor and should be coming back to my waiting arms any day so I can make the final changes. I did a reading from it recently and found it wasn’t quite as tight as I’d have liked so I might also give it a quick read through and tweak if I get the time before consigning it to history. I’ve already written a little companion short story called The Point for a Waterstones special edition, like the other two books had (in fact those three short stories may end up collected, along with a new short story, into a novella from Subterranean Press next year). Then I just need to write a little Previously in… like the one I did for the Trouble With Peace. I’ve seen roughs of the covers for the US and UK and they’re progressing nicely, so hopefully there’s nothing standing in the way of the long aimed-for publication date in mid September.

A couple of months back it looked very unlikely that anyone would be doing traditional events and book tours by that stage, but I’ve had my first covid shot now, and the government are talking about everything being opened up by late July, so you never know, there may be some kind of events possible, at least in the UK. I’d certainly very much like to close this series out looking some readers in the eye. I was Guest of Honour at a virtual Boskone last month, and actually the online format works great, it was a lot of fun and it opens up events to people who’d never be able to make it in person – no doubt events of that kind will be part of the landscape in the future even when the pandemic is finally behind us – but it would be great to be back in a roomful of people as well.

There was a time, some time ago, when I’d just smashed my way through a rough first draft of the entire trilogy, and fondly imagined I could finish books 2 and 3 up not long after book 1 came out, and enjoy a colossal and leisurely head start on whatever came next. Didn’t quite happen, needless to say. Tasks of this kind have an unpleasant habit of inflating to fill the time available, and it can be tough to focus on something new while you’ve still got such an all-consuming project on the go. But I have now written the first part – maybe a quarter (35,000 words-ish) – of the book after The Wisdom of Crowds. The working title is The Devils. It’s an entirely new thing: new world, new characters, and my approach with this one is to be a bit less structured than I have been in the past. I wanted to just dive in and see how it felt in the writing, try some of the characters on for size, minimal world building, minimal effort to make sense of anything, focus on characters and feel for now then rewrite later, if need be. Now that I’m this far in I probably need to take some time to plan and structure a bit more, but I’m just going to let it grow and develop in its own time. We shall see how it progresses…

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