Ah, that long, slow lull at the start of the year. Always seems to take a couple of weeks for things to really get moving again, don’t it? Plus I’m in celebration/mourning for the end of my last book, and engaged in that thumb-twiddling period we call thinking about the next book.
So, this month I will mostly be:
1. Doing a round of updates to the website, which hopefully will go live before long, though possibly not until next month, and will include a sizable extract from Best Served Cold. None other than the explosive whole first chapter. Contain your enthusiasm, people! Though you might want a bucket of ice-water handy when I tell you that there might also be a link to a MAP OF STYRIA. I am too good to you. Around the same time, with any luck and a little help from the God of Release Dates, proofs of Best Served Cold should begin to go out, accompanied by, I can pretty much guarantee, outrageous claims on the back cover as to my genius, critical acclaim, exclusivity, commerciality, sales, and sexual prowess which may verge dangerously close to hype. Guard your fragile minds, advance readers, lest you be beguiled. I wonder if it will be with this book or the next that I will suffer a brutal backlash for my surely unsustainable levels of interweb popularity. It only takes one little boy, after all, to pull his finger out of the dyke and say, “you know, I’m not sure Abercrombie’s really all that good…” And before you know it we’ll be swept away by a flood of shit reviews. You mark my words. I’m prepared to weather the storm, though, because, as we all know, it isn’t until you recieve a universal critical crap-panning that the sales really skyrocket…
2. Writing a short story. Yes, that’s right. Never done it before, so it should be interesting. I’m also using it as a bit of a sounding board for some character ideas, as it’s going to feature a set of characters who’ll be central to the NEXT BOOK (see below). The story is for an anthology which I’m quite excited to be a part of, nominally of sword and sorcery stories, although with the convergence of sword and sorcery with epic fantasy into the whole area of edgy fantasy it looks like it will feature contributions from all kinds of exciting new faces on the fantasy scene, seasoned by some well-known, long-established and much-respected names. Can’t say who yet. Won’t be coming along until 2010, though, so fight desperately to contain that excitement, people!
3. And, of course, planning for that all important NEXT BOOK. The strange life of the author, wherein I’m pondering the next book six months before most readers will get to read the last, such that by the time it comes out, I’m thoroughly buried in the next project where praise or criticism for the last are both equally burdensome. Oh yes (you can’t see, but I’m beating my chest), it is so terribly hard to be a maverick creative! Anyway, let it never be said that I keep you in the dark. The next (fifth) book will be a standalone not unlike Best Served Cold – that is taking place in the world of the First Law and featuring some minor characters from the trilogy in more central roles – but if you can think of Best Served Cold as Dark Fantasy meets Hard-Boiled Thriller, this book will be a kind of Dark Fantasy meets Hard-Edged War Story, and will be the thrilling tale of one great battle for control of the North, over the course of three days, from several points of view on both sides and at different levels of the action. Characters will include – a world weary crew of Named Men, a keen young lad desperate to become a hero and claim a name of his own, a Prince determined to regain his father’s lost throne by any means necessary, a girl who may or may not be able to talk to god, and a fencing champion dispatched to the North as the King of the Union’s observer. Naturally there’ll be blood on the snow, blood in the mist, blood in the rain, blood on standing stones, treachery, heroism, cowardice, and blood. Oh, and hilarious banter. And blood. Current, but very, very rough no-promises-made-please-don’t-hurt-me-if-I-miss-it projected publication date is October 2010.
And yes, I have a working title, and no, I’m not telling you what it is. Like all the best strip-tease artists, I must retain some shred of mystery, you know…
4. Tangential to number 3, above, I’m doing something that’s been virtually unheard of for me over the last few years, and doing some actual reading in the hope of getting some ideas and inspiration. Not fantasy, of course, because, you know, who reads that crap? But a lot of books, fiction and non-fiction, about WAR, from Clausewitz and Sun Tzu, to Grant’s Memoirs, to Vietnam combat experiences. And actually I’ll be reading some war-related fantasy too. So there. One thing I’ve already read which I warmly recommend, is a book called The Whale Road, by Robert Low. It’s about Vikings, and does a great job of communicating the alien-ness of their mindset, partly through some very nice rhythmic writing, which really gets a sense of the characters and their setting across without wasting pages on exposition. I recommend it. A short book which casts a long shadow.
Oh, and additionally, before I forget. Voting for the David Gemmell Legend Award has now begun, in which a sixty-something long-list of pretty much everything published by a sf/f imprint last year will be reduced to a shortlist of five for further voting to establish the bestest heroicest fantasiest book published last year. We all know the answer to that, right? Whatever THEY may say. Now normally I’d step back, dignified, like, ’cause I’m nothing if not dignified, and let the chips fall where they may. But the organisers have contacted me (as they have all the other folks on the longlist) to ask that I help publicise the award on my website. Therefore:
VOTE FOR ME! VOTE FOR ME! LAST ARGUMENT OF KINGS FTW! YOU KNOW YOU WANT TO.
That is all.