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January 13th, 2009

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:


That is all.

Posted in news, reading by Joe Abercrombie on January 13th, 2009.

33 comments so far

  • Annette says:

    I like it when authors give me time to catch up! I am midway in The Blade Itself and am well and truly hooked 🙂 Thanks, Joe (for the great story, not for the delay…)!

  • Swainson says:

    If you’re going all military I can recommend Military Mavericks by David Rooney.

    I’ve also been reading a load of old sf anthologies published in the late 50’s bought for a pound a pop. I just can’t concentate long enough to read a novel. So I’ll be looking forward to your contribution to the next Dark Fantasy Anthology.

  • marky says:

    Damn, even your blogs entries are great. I’m just in the middle of Last Argument of Kings. I would just like to explode into a spoiler-ific mess right now, but I won’t. I hate spoilers, but there are so many questions I want to ask. It’s like holding in a piss for a year man!
    Each one of the first law books totally rock. If I had a big hand that could stretch from Glasgow, that would be me patting you on the back. Splendid work, splendid.
    Anywho, I shouldn’t even be licking your curly bits till I finish the book, but I just felt compelled to. I look forward to the rest of it tonight, and sexy time is on the back burner till the story is finished. And if the Mrs says anything, I’ll tell her she just needs to be realistic about these things. (sorry, couldn’t resist)

    Oh, and chickenhawk is a classic. True story about a guy flying helicopters in Nam. Brilliant stuff.

  • Bob Lock says:

    Like all the best strip-tease artists, I must retain some shred of mystery, you know…

    Look Joe, I like your writing and all that but there’s no way I’m gonna start putting ÂŁ10 notes in your G-string…

    (will fivers do?)

  • It’s only the mysterious strippers who end up in sealed oil drums in my basement, you know.

    Just a friendly warning…

  • pangalactic says:

    It’s only the mysterious strippers who end up in sealed oil drums in my basement, you know

    It puts the lotion in the basket…

    Just finishing up on Last Argument of Kings. This whole book is one hell of an ending to the series. I can’t wait for Best Served Cold.

  • brian says:

    Please consider reading up on Carlos Hathcock II. He’s the US Marine responsible for that one sniper shot in all the war movies. His entire story is fascinating!!

  • Bill Frankl says:

    Good luck in your short story effort. I enjoy writing short stories––one has the satisfaction of a finished product much earlier than a novel; and there’s the challenges of character development and brevity not encountered when writing a novel.
    Good luck!

  • Tim Stretton says:

    “Best Served Cold” is my most-anticipated read of 2009. Bring it on!

    If you haven’t read 1812, Adam Zamoyski’s account of Napoleon’s Moscow campaign, I strongly recommend it. In some ways its strongly reminiscent of the First Law, especially the bickering Russian staff officers.

    I wish you well with the Gemmell Legend Award, although I kind of feel compelled to vote for my own book, just to avoid “nul points” syndrome. I’ll vote for yours when it gets to the final five…

  • Steve Aryan says:

    Glad to hear Best Served Call is almost ready to hit the shelves. Are you planning a world signing tour with some Gollancz pals?

    For some exciting and modern Viking action, I highly recommend the first volume of Northlanders by Brian Wood, but, be warned, it’s not for the faint of heart as the language is quite severe, oh and it’s not a novel!

  • Erik says:

    Ooh the first chapter! Is that a new one, or the one you read in Holland?

    And in case you haven’t read Glen Cooks ‘Black Company’, gogo read that

  • Anonymous says:

    hi mr. abercrombie!
    and greetings from austria^^

    i just want to tell you that i saw i very good picture of Black Dow on a grafik forum!
    Link –>

    and i already saw the the german version of best served cold on and what a suprise the name will be "Racheklingen"^^ (in english "revenge blades")
    Link –>;=ICGKVN2K8GN30&colid;=25T7T01W8OLJW

  • daft sod says:

    That story about the great battle in the north with different points of view you plan to write sounds like a story I read as a student. It was about a famous battle in the American Civil War, but I can’t remember the name of the book. I like the different point of view thing very much.

  • daft sod says:

    I just remembered the name of the novel. It was “Shiloh” by Shelby Foote.

    PS sorry for double blog, don’t know how to edit entries

  • Juan Ruiz says:

    Hey Joe… one more tittle… Killer Angels by Michael Shaara, a compelling read about Gettysburg, a truly amazing novel…

    And I offer myself as a truly fencing consultor, not that you need it, of course you great writer, but just in case… although I learnt just yesterday that Bruce Dickinson, singer of Iron Maiden, that is a good fencer himself has a Fencing Shop in London… now, why am i talking about it????

  • Annette,
    My pleasure.

    You might be waiting a while for my contribution to an anthology, as I say…

    True, everything I write is touched by the angels. Ask anyone. Except my many detractors. If you want to post something spoilerific, there’s a post on here somewhere called “ending like an avalanche” where a few folks have done so. By all means add your few penneth worth…

    I only take fifties.

    Oh, you have a stripper-filled oil-drum basement too?

    Thanks, though not for the lotion.

    It shall go upon the list.

    What are you talking about? My 200,000+ word behemoths are paragons of brevity.

    Tolstoy’s War and Peace is as close as I’ve come to that particular subject matter. I’ll look that one out…

    Oh, I can’t read anything with severe language. I hate that shit.

    New and much more substantial (and violent) one. I read the second chapter in Holland. My publisher have just released the Black Company in the UK, I’ll have to get a copy…

    I posted something about those graphics a while back. They are indeed most impressive. And the new German cover I’ll probably talk about at some point…

    Daft Sod,
    Shelby Foote is one of my favouritest writers, not so much for his fiction, but for his epic three-volume Narrative History of the Civil War. Some of the best and most accessible non-fiction I’ve ever read.

    They say history moves in circles. I do quite a lot of work for Iron Maiden in my other job as a video editor – documentaries and concerts, so I am familiar with Mr. Dickinson’s fencing skills. He once had a drunken duel in the Bahamas with the band’s producer, who was a karate expert, fencing against karate. The length of the foil was, apparently, decisive.

  • Juan Ruiz says:

    That was a very funny anecdoct, Joe, thank you… so now that you have time, I can recomend you Arturo Perez Reverte’s The Fencing Master, in which film the stunt for the actor who made the fencing master is My Fencing Master!

    I have posted your Bruce Dickinson anecdoct in our fencing blog, with the due you deserve and saying that your book is published in Spain and that one of the characters is a fencer… better small publicity that no publicity, right?

  • Anonymous says:

    My vote FTW!!!
    Your a genius!
    I live in Berlin and I have to say you that you should change the german covers of your books… They looks like second-class fantasy books… But they are first-class storys… I read them in English and i like more the UK cover.

    PS: I am not from Germany, so I am sorry for any spelling or grammar mistake xD

  • Jo AKA Ser Mel T says:

    Alright then Mr M00bs, I shall also read the Viking book as I am very fond of all things barbarically Nordic.

    And here’s a rec for you. The Osprey books are pretty good ( if not completely up to date ) for weaponry, clothing – to include mail and other war get up. The illustrations can also be good for a laugh. But the info is all archaeologically pretty sound, and dead good for quick reference, when you are looking for the three billionth alternative way of describing the weapon that someone is getting their heads beaten in with.

    Aint war grand ?

  • Anonymous says:

    The Bruce Dickinson anecdote reminded me of this essay:

    What result might occur in a duel between a Samurai and an European Renaissance swordsman?

  • Anonymous says:

    Joe, when are you bringing Logen back?

  • Taliesin says:

    Had I mentioned yet how much I am looking forward to book 5? I don’t think I had. And yes I know there is first Best Served Cold. But book 5 seems like the perfect treat and the story I most wanted to read.


  • Anonymous says:

    Um, antology… Will it be “Warriors”, heh? P.S.:
    voted for LAOK, of course.

  • Longasc says:

    I voted for Last Argument of Kings, it is definitely my favorite for the Gemmell Award. I think Gemmell would have loved it, too. But to get you back to earth again, The Blade Itself was even better, Last Argument of Kings has too many open ends and was a rather weak ending of the trilogy that cries for a sequel.

  • Phoenix995 says:

    hey hey i voted 4 you!
    and realy i’m looking forward to read Best served cold!

    I first thought that best served cold is the next book of the First Law saga cause in germany the name is pretty much the same^^
    It would be realy cool if you could tell them to change the name of the german version… i realy hope you have the permission to do so^^

    yea greating from Salzburg^^

  • Juan,
    All publicity is good publicity. There’s a bit of fencing in the new book, in fact…

    German covers are the province of the German publisher, I don’t get any say and that may be a good thing…

    Jo AKA Mel T,
    On the list, though the list is long.

    2nd Anon,
    I once saw a really rubbish 70s film which culminated in a battle between a samurai and a knight.

    3rd Anon,
    That’s for me to know and you to find out by buying everything I ever write.

    I’d better get on with it, then…

    4th Anon,
    Thanks for the vote.

    Thanks for the vote, I will pretend those plainly ill-considered comments about LAoK never happened.

    I mentioned the potential for confusion to my German editor, they were more interested in emphasising the continuity and establishing the brand. *Shrugs* They’re doing a pretty damn good job as far as selling the books goes, so I’m not complaining.

  • Anonymous says:

    Quote: “I once saw a really rubbish 70s film which culminated in a battle between a samurai and a knight…”

    I think the cinematic atrocity you’re thinking of is 1992’s ‘Shogun Warrior’, starring Sho Kosugi as the Samurai, David Essex(!) as the Knight, and a pre-Rome Polly Walker.

  • Anon,
    Merciful Christ, I think it did have David Essex, though the first name that sprang into my mind was Oliver Tobias. That was made in the NINETIES? My whole faith in western civilisation (not that high to begin with) has just been shaken to its very core.

  • Defens says:

    I just finished your entire series.

    Most enjoyable fantasy novels I have read since Glenn Cooks Black Company trilogy.

    Inquisitor Glotka stands out in particular. The books were worth reading for his story arc alone. Hopefully as you flesh out the world of Styria we can see or hear about his future exploits someday.

    Speaking of which does the next book take place after the end of this trilogy or before?

    Regardless, I look forward to purchasing your next book as soon as it is published in the U.S.

  • Just returned from London. Cheers for making it worth my while going, Mr Alphabet 2009.

  • Anonymous says:

    I missed out (by about 5 minutes.) Will you have a signing for Best Served Cold?

  • mythusmage says:

    Good luck with “Go Good with Ketchup”

    I must ask, is Glokta based on any particular cliche fictional American police detective?

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