So, the film of Conan the Barbarian (not the Momoa one, that one’s dead to me, the Arnie one), ends pretty much the night of Conan’s victory over Thulsa Doom. Finally, Conan has achieved his life’s ambition and killed the man who killed his mother and father and destroyed his people and took his father’s sword and stole his life and yada yada. Victory! But what happens then, do you reckon? Does Conan go on a big celebratory bender for three days, laughing and singing and joyfully backslapping, then settle down happily to one of the cornucopia of new life options that have opened up, any one of which, surely, is far superior to brooding over the as-yet not-death of his arch-nemesis?
Perhaps you think so. My guess is not. My guess is Conan slumps into a navel-gazing melancholy tailspin, all the worse because he knows this is supposed to be great. In fact if I recall correctly there’s a shot at the end of Conan sitting on the steps of Thulsa’s burning temple as night falls with his enemy’s corpse some way below, chin propped thoughtfully on his hand, staring into the distance. Maybe he’s supposed to be thinking deep thoughts on the meaning of existence, but to me he’s thinking, ‘oh, great, what the shit am I going to do now?’
For the last year or two my arch enemy has been Red Country. I don’t mind saying that this has been a tough book to write. Not as tough as Best Served Cold, maybe, but close. It has taken everything from me (alright it’s been hard work) and my every waking moment has been bent on its destruction (alright, its successful completion). Now, it is over. I have hacked its head from its quivering body and displayed it to the masses. I’m stretching the metaphor, but work with me. I’ll admit the corpse is still twitching a little, I’ll be reading over and doing a final pass on the language up until the end of July, proof read thereafter, but it’s copy edited and the version from which proofs will be made has been sent off to the publisher. I’ve even done a rather amusing (if I say so myself) little extra for Waterstone’s hardback edition. I’m actually starting to get happy with the book too, and a good deal earlier than I’d originally planned. I mean, I’ll be happier when more people tell me how ace it is, but I’m no longer shitting my pants over whether it’ll work or not. So I should be delighted. I should finally feel free, like someone’s taken a rock off my neck. I’ve been aiming at this moment like a buried miner crawling towards that chink of daylight, right?
But I’ve got to say I feel sore, stressed, narky, tetchy, depressed and directionless. Some would say that’s about normal for me. In which case, more so than normal. Perhaps this is why I always say I’m going to take a break after the next book, then as soon as I finish, start on the next one. Probably Conan takes a breath, thinks about it, then sharpens his sword and sets off happily to hunt down Thulsa Doom’s third cousin twice removed. Didn’t he have something to do with it too?
Hmmm. I think, for now, I will get mildly drunk, and play Red Dead Redemption.