On a Break

January 22nd, 2013

So, Red Country has been well and truly out for three months, the touring well and truly over, the reviews chewed through, the sales examined, the dust settled.

I find myself now in a slightly unusual position as I watch the snow drift down past my study window and render the pavements of Bath totally impassible for picking up kids from school.  In the past, when a book was published, I was usually well underway with the next one.  Indeed when The Blade Itself came out in 2006, I’d already finished a decent draft of Before They are Hanged and was well underway with Last Argument of Kings.  Not long after that I was starting to think about what would come when the trilogy was finished, and cooked up the rough ideas for Best Served Cold, The Heroes, and Red Country.  I’ve been steadily executing that plan, writing in the same world and in loose continuation, ever since, although my head start on each book when the previous one was published has got less and less.

I’ve got a contract for three more books in the First Law world, and those will be a trilogy, and I have some rough ideas about what the content and characters might be.  Very rough.  But this time around, I’ve scarcely started even on the planning.  With every book I’ve finished I’ve told myself (not to mention promised close family members) that I’d take a break, and each time after about an hour off I’ve started getting twitchy about the next thing and cracked straight on.

But Red Country was pretty draining.  Not that I’m not totally delighted with the results because, you know, brilliant book and all that, but I found it hard work.  Felt burned out at times.  Felt like I was having to reach a long way for new ideas, new ways of doing things.  It was not, at all times, a joyous process.  So now seems a good time to take a break, do some reading, do some thinking, recharge the creative batteries.  Obviously a break is relative, there are still a load of administrative things that require my attention plus a few little projects I’m steadily working at and may have announcements related to in due course, but for the next couple of months, no full-length First Law stuff on the go.

Now, since it’s a trilogy I’m going to take a stab at next, there’s going to be a fair bit more planning involved than usual.  I also have a crazy notion that I’d like to draft the whole trilogy first, then fine tune and edit each book in turn for publication.  That will hopefully mean a) that the trilogy can be as coherent and cohesive as possible, since there’ll be no rush to publish the start without really knowing all the details of the end, and b) that the three books can be published on whatever well-prepared schedule seems best rather than being fumbled out arbitrarily which will c) ideally be the best thing both creatively and commercially.  What can be the downside to this rapid and regular publication of a supremely well-planned, coherent and high-quality series, I hear you cry?  You have probably guessed already.  A long wait for the first book.  Exactly how long a wait I can’t say ’til I get going, I hope that, as with the First Law, things will go slowly at first then speed up as I get my head around the characters.  But we will see.

In any case, for the time being, I’m on a break.

So there.

Posted in process, progress by Joe Abercrombie on January 22nd, 2013.

55 comments so far

  • Smoochie says:

    A well-earned rest, to be fair. I’d bugger off to a 5-star Hotel in the Caribbean for 8 weeks if I was a fabulously wealthy author at a loose end…

    But sod the books, when’s the next installment of Whisky Death Match?

  • Joe Abercrombie says:

    Whisky Deathmatch will continue uninterrupted.

  • Storm in the High Places says:

    You deserve the break, Red Country was amazing as all of your books are. Very excited to hear about the trilogy. It will be well worth the wait. One question though. When u finish the trilogy is that it for the world of The First Law, are u going to start a new world or keep building? Either way I will continue to buy all your books and keep re-reading the past ones.
    Best regards,
    And CHEERS from your biggest fan in the USA.

  • Luke Scull says:

    Six great books in as many years. That’s a hell of a record, so I think you’re entitled to a good long break. There’s not many that can match that. And you’re still young. An enviable place to be.

    Btw, I’ve looked at moving to Bath and it seems “fabulously wealthy” just about gets you a bedsit at today’s prices. It’s utterly crazy…

  • Michael says:

    More likely a man with time on his hands is gonna get a list of ‘things that need doing’from his better half……


  • Danny M says:

    Just as I finish Red Country you announce this! It’s like finishing a particularly fine pint then being told that they are changing the barrel.

  • Hawkeye says:

    Take care Joe, I’m guessing we will see your new work in about 3 years. I look forward to it and until then peace be with you and yours.

  • Adam A. says:

    There is something to be said for taking a break. Was just reflecting on how busy I’d been November through early January and how I’d barely notice the time pass until I had some quiet. Even a single weekend can be so refreshing sometimes.

    But – as a follower of your blog – you’ve mentioned travels for the book, conventions… have you in that time had a moment for personal travel? Think I need one. Zero degrees outside. It’s been such an unseasonably warm winter, I’d nbearly forgotten it was winter at all until yesterday, when it came on, full bore! Feeling a sudden, urgent need to be on a beach, somewhere.

  • JonathanL says:

    Enjoy your break. It is most certainly well-deserved. Just finished Red Country last night, and I think you’ve left your readers at a good stopping point for however long you need until the trilogy spools up.

    If, in the meantime, you see anymore Tinkerbell movies, your loyal readership will of course pay rapt attention to your thoughts on them.

  • Alex (Brummie) says:

    To join the rest I say have a rest & put your feet up. Red Country was great; I’ll re-read it & the rest while I wait. Since I’m not a whiskey lover is there a chance of an ale deathmatch? Or is that request filed under feckless fan/reader comments?

  • Mark C says:

    Six books in and they’ve all been awesome. Whenever it comes, I’m looking forward to number seven.

    We’ll still have the odd movie and TV review, right? And what about turning that analytical talent towards some genre fiction? Abercrombie book reviews, anyone?

    Enjoy the break and come back stronger. Actually, is that even possible? OK, come back delivering the same level of awesome as before! 🙂

  • ColinJ says:

    Enjoy your break, Joe. No-one has earned it more.

  • Thaddeus says:

    Damnit, I hate it when computers forget my details. Apologies if I got anything wrong and it gets auto-modded.


    A well-deserved break, Mr. Abercrombie. I hope we get to learn about how the background work for a trilogy might differ slightly from a stand-alone, and what you found worked (and didn’t) with The First Law Trilogy.

    Is the drafting of all three books at once just an idea, or something that’s likelier than not to happen? Oh, and what did you do in this regard for your previous trilogy?

  • Dr.Gonzo says:

    Take your time and enjoy the break.

    But please like with Red Country inform us about the books you read for the research. I really enjoyed journal of the gun years and the Corman Mc Carthy books. Both stuff I wouldn’t have read without your suggestion.

  • Liam says:

    Enjoy your break, it is well deserved.

    Going forward though, I for one would love to see some (spoiler-free) updates about the creative process for drafting a new trilogy. I’d be very interested to see how you approach it, given all the experience you’ve now got under your belt.

  • Brian says:

    I love all of your books Joe and believe you are the master of the gritty fantasy setting.

    Waiting for the next installment will be hard, but say one thing for Brian…say he’s a patient man.

  • JDA says:

    Enjoy the break. Any ideas on some book you might be reading?

    Also, not sure if you get The Kraken rum in your part of the world, but give it a go. It will help you kill some time. I’ve been killing it for a while now.

  • Tenesmus says:

    All is good. Take your time. Why don’t you do a cold war spy trilogy and bring back that crazy b!@#h that Logen banged in the first series as some kind of ninja assassin working for an evil mage with Glotka as a double agent playing both sides with the entire world in the balance…

  • Shawn says:

    And here I was thinking: “It’s been a bit since I’ve checked Mr. Joe’s web site. Perhaps he’s got up a hint as to what’s coming next…”

    A break! Imagine my horror and dismay!

    Seriously though, as a US fan that pays the extra for shipping from the UK so I don’t have to wait that bit extra for the book to come out over here (and while I think the US covers look smashing, I tend to find the UK ones more appealing), you, sir, deserve a break.

    Some of the best writing I’ve ever had the pleasure of staying up waaay too late into the wee hours of the night reading and then dragging my ass into work bleary eyed the next day. But well worth it!

    Enjoy your break, take your time, recharge those writing batteries, and have a blast whatever you end up doing. Even if it’s just vegetating at home in front of the TV, a stack of video games or a bunch of books. Sometimes those are the best vacations ever.

  • Doug says:

    While you are relaxing, I will continue to tirelessly refer your work to whomever I can. Looking forward to whatever you release next, whenever that may be. Cheers.

  • Iangr says:

    By Euz what hubris!
    A break!A break he says!
    As if it’s the most natural thing in the world!
    Did Kanedias “take a break” when he was fashioning his artifacts?
    Did Juvens “take a break” when he was practising the High Art?
    What insolence!

    You sir dissapoint me dearly.

    Punishment should be swift and terrible upon your person in the form of another deal for another trilogy called “The ferrets whithin the circle of the world”.

  • Chad says:

    Well deserved indeed. Hell, I’m pretty sure that industry standard for fantasy authors is at least five years between books *cough* GRRM *cough*

    You’re so far ahead of that curve that no reasonable person could possibly mind the break.

    I can rest easy now that I’ve heard more stories of the Bloody Nine. I really enjoyed the part in the book where Logen confronted the guy (I forget his name) while he was bathing. So many good scenes. Enjoy your success Joe.

  • Tåm says:

    Enjoy your break Mr. A, now seems like the perfect time to take a step back from the First Law world (do we have another name for it?) and let the coming trilogy take shape. We want you it top shape, not stressed up and burned-out.

  • Phil Norris says:

    Will the short stories due out (excluding Some Desperado) fill in gaps in the intervening years between Red Country and the second trilogy?

  • Joe Abercrombie says:

    More likely they’ll be from earlier in the timeline. But they might not be all that directly connected to the principals anyway.

  • Frank Fitzpatrick says:

    Think the last paragraph is definitely the right way to go about it, so you have my full backing.

    Sure I’ll be distraught having to wait longer for the next book, but you know the saying, “absence makes the heart grow fonder.”

  • Dominic Sabourin says:

    I read the first 5 novels in a span of 8 weeks starting late October. and recently finished Red Country in which took me a week. I gotta say, even with my hectic life with a recent newborn (was actually reading Best Served Cold at the hospital)… I’ve never been so immersed in a series before. Love your books! Love your writing! Sad to hear you’re taking a break but it’s seriously well deserved. A book a year is tough work. Can’t wait to read the next… will keep an eye out for updates.

  • Weedypants says:

    Definitely, taking some time to relax and read sounds good.

    When I’m having to reach a long way for new ideas, when I need to recharge my creative juices, the thing that helps me most is reading work by authors who stretch and inspire me. You know, authors like Joe– Anyway, you see what I mean.


  • Taisha says:

    Red Country was a work of a genius, I was and still am so enthusiastic, for me it was the best of all your books. Although I can’t wait for more, I can understand completely that you want a break, you deserve it. IMo rest is a part of a creative process and forcing oneself to write would be counterproductive. Even if you never again write anything I feel grateful that you created all your books it so we can enjoy it 🙂

  • Rain61 says:

    Yes, get some rest, no problem, just honor your obligations
    to your readers and give them a book every year.
    Thanks, for all your wonderful work.

  • Kreso says:

    To me, a break would certainly imply watching (or re-watching) all 5 seasons of The Wire, the best TV show ever made.

    So, I wish you plenty of rest and relaxation, and I hope you get around to seeing The Wire if you haven’t already seen it.


  • Sedulo says:

    The break is prefectly non-distressing as I find your books can be read multiple times without getting tired of them. So, enjoy your respite. Besides, it isn’t as though you can stop thinking. Very glad you will avoid burn out.

    Now you can catch up on cool books, television and movies.

  • Sedulo says:

    Perfectly, not prefectly. Haha!

  • Gary says:

    If you’re after something interesting to read, then it’s worth picking up the recent Conan Graphic novels by Dark Horse.

    The later volumes are a little bit hit and miss, but the first few are pretty decent adaptations of Howard’s original stories. I recommend Vol 1: The Frost-Giant’s Daughter, Vol 2: The God in the Bowl and Vol 3: The Tower of the Elephant. Volume 0, telling the tale of Conan’s youth is not too shabby either.

    The artwork is not inked, just pencils followed by colour to give a painting like quality to them. Conan is a little bit one dimensional, but like with the original tales it is the adventure in the stories themselves that excel and it’s quite nice to see them in this format. I think they work well.

    p.s. Eagerly look forward to the upcoming trilogy. GRRM makes people wait, so why shouldn’t you? 😉

  • Jason says:

    Joe, it only seems fair that you would take a break to let all those other authors a chance to catch up to your brilliance. Just hope I can find one or two authors to keep me entertained till we get to venture in your world again. Enjoy the break!

  • James says:

    What is it with fantasy and trilogies? I guess there is the whole beginning, middle and end thing, but most genres seem far more content to squeeze them all into a single volume. Any thoughts?

    From my perspective I guess I am happy as it means 3 more books. Enjoy your break. Random game suggestion: Mark of the Ninja. Awesome fun.

  • Taisha says:

    Red Country was a work of a genius, I was and still am so enthusiastic, for me it was the best of all your books. Although I can’t wait for more, I can understand completely that you want a break, you deserve it. IMo rest is a part of a creative process and forcing oneself to write would be counter-productive. Even if you never again write anything I feel grateful that you created all your books it so we can enjoy it 🙂

  • Kirk says:

    Hi, I have enjoyed all of your novels, some more than others its true but they stand well above most others ive read recently, in character and dialogue. Can you sense the but coming,BUT, was the final exchange between “lamb” and Shivers the way that you planned it when you started Red Country. I was quite dissatisfied with it myself altough i enjoyed most of that book. I realise the criticism of one reader doesnt amount to much but i would never have written this without a burning desire to know. Generally i pass on or donate fantasy type books to friends or charity shops, but no way is the First Law Trilogy leaving my book shelves if thats any consolation.

  • JonathanL says:

    Funny, I enjoyed the resolution at the end of Red Country. I couldn’t bear it if it had gone the way I had expected.

  • Lor says:

    If you don’t spend at least a good whack of your break vegging out playing video games, we will be very disappointed in you. Have fun dude!

  • Paolo says:

    Hi, I was lucky to buy “The blade itself” during a brief holiday in London 2 years ago: best blind purchase ever made!
    I’m from Italy and since then I bought and read all your books and recommended them to all my fellas and italian fantasy readers.
    You really deserve a break and perhaps Italy is a good choice for relax: good food, sun, wine, beautiful cities.

  • Calibandar says:

    Hey Joe,

    You really don’t need a 40th person telling you that it’s cool to take a break, a decision you’ve already taken anyway. But still, after 6 great and succesful books, I feel that a break is totally understandable. Especially in order to reboot and recharge the creative mind. Cause really, one cannot go on and on and on and maintain the same level of quality I think.

    Meanwhile, you could ask the commenters here for suggestions of good reading or good recent films, if indeed you are in need of such advice.

    I would think that at some point, the ideas for the next trilogy will start to settle in. And if they just don’t come, you can always start something else.

  • Nick Givent says:

    Well deserved Joe! You have faithfully released new work every year and a half ever since you started! NO other author I read has done so. You should take months off, to recharge and breathe. And when you’re ready, start again. But try to be ready to start by, say, september 🙂 Thank you for your hard work.

  • Dan says:

    Joe, give “the half made world” a try, by Felix gilman. It’s a new weird take on a western. Very enjoyable.

  • erik says:

    Joe, just remember Ferro and the Shanka. fingers crossed she and they will be back in the next trilogy.
    enjoy the break, drink some whiskey, put the shorts together in an anthology, and maybe give GRRM some encouragement. you know, if you talk to him.

  • Clnt says:

    Ferro, Ferro wherefore art thou Ferro…?

  • opa says:

    awesome plan to write the whole trilogy first and then publish. Seriously, I love it and I don’t mind at all waiting long for the first book. Doesn’t matter how you turn it, it is in every case better than having to wait long for the second or third book, and even maybe have to reread the previous because you already forgot what happened.

  • Ben says:

    I’m with everyone else. Plan them out and don’t write yourself into a corner. (ala Stephen King lol)

    It’s the best way to go about it. Too many other authors (who shall remain unnamed) get into a story and just keep adding more onto it til it’s overbloated. Some folks like to call it gravy training, but I tend to think it has more to do with the story taking on a life of its own and the author completely losing control over where the heck we’re going.

    I like your way of approaching it much more. I’ve enjoyed everything you’ve put out to date and I’m sure you’ll continue to impress all of us given the time and space to do so.

    Thanks for the good reads.

  • DepressedRat says:

    Better wait some years for a complete and good trilogy than getting slowly disappointed by a long stretched series of books from someone who watch far too many football’s games. Keep up the good work Joe.

    p.s.: they finally realeased the heroes in italy, I’m scared as hell about the translation, hope not to get disappointed.

  • cal says:

    If your having a break from writing then I’m having a break from reading. I finished red country about ten minutes ago and I’m not sure what to do now. Fantastic stuff.

  • vitautas says:

    Any book you could recommend in the meantime?

  • Thomas Larsen says:

    A well-deserved break!

    A few thoughts/ideas/desires/feedback from a reader:

    1) Eaters. What happens if I as a regular Joe decides to eat my neighbour or I’m pushed into cannibalism? That’s a subject I’d love to see covered (and speaking of grit in fantasy like you do in your latest post, it might fit really well and be a sad twist).

    2) Continuation of current characters. Our friend Ninefingers is left hanging. But I don’t necessarily need to hear about him or his exploits (in anything but a historical context) if you decide to jump in time again. I actually enjoyed The Heroes the most – not because of his absence, but simply because of the story and scene. So no, I don’t NEED or CRAVE Ninefingers. You’ve done well with other characters and it’d be cool if you freed yourself of his ghost, so to speak.

    I’d like to hear a bit about our poor king though. He must have been in some tough spots throughout the war after his coronation.

    3) The next stories can be small. They don’t have to be part of worldchanging events such as wars. They don’t have to be subject to attention from the great meddlers such as Bayaz. I find it’s often the non-epic scale stories that get the better of me and has me reading throughout the night.

    That was just some feedback from a Danish reader. Hope you enjoy the break and find the energy to get back on track!


  • Martin says:

    Is Thomas on drugs for not wanting more ninefingers

    A, yes
    B, yes
    C, yes

    Bloody Nine forever !!!

  • Isaac says:

    Please don’t follow the terrib(though possibly well intentioned) advise from Thomas. After all, anyone who wants more canabalism and less Bloody Nine is obviously out of their mind.

  • […] depression that I have succumbed to these past two years. First he informed us he would be taking a well deserved break. Red Country had burned him out and he needed time to think, read, relax, etc. And then came the […]

Add Your Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *