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.