Happy Birthday to Me

December 31st, 2008

Happy Birthday to me. Happy Birthday to me. Happy Birthday dear meeee-eeeee…

You know the rest.

Yes, I’m 24 for the tenth time today. I tried being 25 for a year back in 2002, but it didn’t work out for me, so I’ve decided to stay where I am…

Out goes 2008, the year of Barrack Obama’s election, some world economic thingy, and, more importantly, of course, the thrilling completion of The First Law Trilogy to universally rapturous popular acclaim (DISCLAIMER: actual acclaim may differ from the acclaim stated both in terms of universality, rapture, and popularity, the staff and management of this blog accept no responsibility for crushing disappointments or, indeed, anything else. Always read the small print on any claims of acclaim).

In comes 2009, a year that will no doubt be remembered for various stuff, but chiefly, of course for the publication of Best Served Cold, for I can reveal that my latest book is now totally finished. Yes, I have carried out my own exhaustive and exhausting program of read-throughs, revisions and rewrites, I have absorbed and acted upon some comments from Devi, my wonderful new editor at Orbit in the US. And I have been through the Line Edit from Gillian, my wonderful old editor in the UK. Though she is quite young, in fact.

The Line Edit, for anyone that’s wondering, follows the more general edit, and is where your editor goes through the manuscript in detail and physically marks up anything that still bothers her – typically creaky sentence construction, repetitive wording, but also making sure details like timelines, time of day, positioning of settings and so on all make sense, as well as some final tinkering with making plot points as clear as possible. Many of those changes I accept, some I scornfully cast aside with a wrinkled lip and a cry of “Never! How dare you presume to edit ME?” But in the vast majority of cases, even if I don’t necessarily agree with the solution out of pure bloody-mindedness, I am often spurred to come up with my own improvement. Which is handy as, by this stage, it becomes harder and harder to tell what’s good and what isn’t.

Then a final read-through of the whole manuscript, in order, to get a sense of how it flows and correct any little errors, add in a couple of last-minute thoughts and do a tad of tightening here or there, and the book is FINISHED.

Naturally when I say finished, I mean, not actually finished. There is still the copy-edit to wait for and look at, then a final proof-read to undertake. But those should be pretty light. Creatively, it’s FINISHED. Mostly. The version I send off today will be the one from which the proofs will be made, which hopefully will be going out to readers, taste-makers and critics some time during the next couple of months. I can almost feel the bile tickling the back of my throat at the thought of the first reviews…

It occurs to me that it’s probably been four or five years since I had more than one day at a time where I didn’t do any writing, even if it’s just been something tangential – a bit of planning, a bit of reading over, a bit of blogging or responding to emails. So I’ve promised myself (not to mention some of the hazy, dimly-remembered figures who were once my friends and family) that I’d have a couple of months properly off, to read, relax, try to sort out my crippling neck pain, and recharge the batteries.

Sits staring into space, drums fingers for a minute…

Thank god that’s over. Right. Next book. And could someone pass the painkillers?

Posted in news, process, reviews by Joe Abercrombie on December 31st, 2008.

20 comments so far

  • Karl says:

    Yay! Good for you! I’m gonna bust a gland waiting for the next book.

  • Congratulations Joe!

    It must be cool having the whole world celebrate your birthday in grand style with tons of fireworks to boot.

    It’s better than having your birthday on the 28th when people are still recovering from Christmas and are making their preparations for the big Abercrombie bash on the 31st.

    Seeing as I’m a year younger than you I could still write my magnus opus this coming year. I’m also still not too old to become a top football player, so there’s still hope for me. 🙂

    Happy new year Joe!

  • James says:


    Time OFF???? We as your readers can not afford for you to take time off. We want a new book every 6 months at lest.

    And as you said in an earlier blog about coming to the states and needing someone to pay, well I started a collection but so far only have $27, A Feast for Crows cd audio book and a Fallout 3 special edition lunch box. So not going so well guess I need to keep working.


    P.S. Happy birthday!!!!!

  • .scott says:

    Brilliant sir. I am nearly done Before They Are Hanged, and I have Last Argument of Kings waiting for me to take on my mid winter trip to St. Lucia and savour on the beach. That should bring me back sufficiently salivating for Best Served Cold.

    Say one thing about Joe, say he knows how to tell a brilliant yarn!

  • rooben says:

    Happy Birthday Joe! I take everything back I said, and I will buy yer Best Served Cold.
    However, I will admit that I won’t be busting a gland.

  • Anonymous says:

    Sincerest felicitations on this most auspicious of occasions.


    Baron Destructo and The League of Aliens and Mutants for Evil

    Cc: Calamitous Jane, Sinderella Washington, Xxxaptak’qul, Dr. Catastro, Dr. Disastro, Dr. Quinn Meddlesome Woman, Ray Mephistopheles, Archfiend Animus, Brutus Badly, the Plague Zombies, Vorzik the Planet Squisher, the Malevolater, Count Sinister, Kugal Baruth, Death Knell, Star Father Celestio, Shatterdam, Princess Arcana, the Mystifier, the Procrastinator, the Soul Emancipator, Quickstrike, Professor Frosty, Flamer the Flaming Man, the Pummeler, the Purple Lamprey, and John Tesh

  • ron says:

    HB and a HNY!

    (so much for eloquence.. >_> )

  • Louiseifer says:

    Long time reader, never before commented, but I cannot wait for the new book!
    Have a happy new year! (oh and happy birthday too!)

  • Tater says:

    Hello! Just finished Before They Are Hanged, and yes, I prefer my fantasy with the edge left on. Absolutely love Blade and Hanged, and Last Argument is on its way as I speak. It is a tale that I do not want to end, so Last Argument has me excited and depressed at the same time:) Cannot wait for Served Cold!! Please keep writing!!

  • Moyz says:

    I see Mallozzi has beaten me to it but Happy Birthday dude and a very Happy and Prosperous New Year.


  • jason says:

    Penblth hapus joe (insert happy birthday in any other made up language that happens to float your boat) and many a happy return.

    Ps james could you leave me your bank details so I can donate to the matts* fund

    *move abercrombie to the states

  • Neth says:

    if my math is correct, I’m 1 day younger than you (hah!). It looks like your b-day gets the celebration and mine gets the hangover. Such is life.

    Happy birthday.

  • innokenti says:

    Happy Birthday Joe! All the best wishes for your renewed 24th year and for 2009!

    Also, it’s my birthday today. Which clearly means that I am in some special way close to your greatness… er…

    😉 Hope you’re having a good time. Roll on more tasty books!

  • Sparrow_hawk says:

    Happy 10th anniversary of your 24th Birthday, Joe! Also Happy New Year and congratulations on finishing the new book. I read (and enjoyed)The First Law trilogy and am looking forward to a rapturous read of Best Served Cold when it is released.

    Your description of the editorial process was very educational (and entertaining). Last year I took on the job of doing some amateur editing for a group that produces role-playing games. So it is with some small understanding of the editorial process that I simultaneously applaud and envy the collaborative relationship that exists between you and your editor. It shows in the quality of the books you write.

  • Erik says:

    Hi Joe!
    Happy birthday, enjoy your time off

  • mythusmage says:

    Another one? You bastard. It’s not like I’ve got anything to do out here in California.

    Blog, read books, blog, lose weight, blog, review books, blog, write stories, blog, rebuild my blog roll, blog. I also blog in case you hadn’t heard.

    What do you do? Write about interesting people in interesting situations in a land that could use some serious landscaping work.

    Yep, haven’t yet reached page 100 of The Blade Itself. Still it is becoming fairly obvious that the Union is headed for a ton of trouble, what with leadership that treats the people like lobotomized sheep, and a society falling apart faster than a creationist’s Bachelor of Science defense.

    May 2009 bring you a writing assignment that wears your fingers down to the first joint. That’ll teach you for being good.

  • etrangere says:

    Happy birthday!

  • Happy Birthday!

    And congrats on the semi-finalising of the book. Does this mean I need to start finding new superlatives for the review?

  • Ah, many thanks for the kind words, people, my shrivelled prune of a heart is ever-so slightly softened.

    Especially you, Baron Destructo, even though those rocket boots you sold me were total crap.

  • Ajay says:

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