April comes, the buds open, my garden is filled with green, etc. etc.
Had a lot of bits and pieces going on over this most recent period – spent most of march working on an unrelated project, plus we had easter holidays, and I’m going through a major upgrade and redesign of the website (which is looking great and will hopefully be installed in the next couple of months). Then I was asked to write an introduction for the Folio Society’s new ultra-nice hardcover edition of A Game of Thrones, which I was very pleased to do, as (probably to no one’s surprise) it was a hugely important and influential book for me. It fairly blew my mind when I first read it back in the 90s: it showed you could do something character-focused, gritty and shocking while still staying very much within the sandbox of epic fantasy. I might never have started writing seriously without it – certainly what I wrote wouldn’t have been the same.
The upshot of all this is that there haven’t been huge strides forward with the new trilogy, which we’re now calling The Age of Madness. But work has continued, nonetheless. Mostly on re-writing the last quarter of the last book, which needed some re-thinking, a couple of new scenes and one big new chapter. Plenty of work still to do to smooth it all off but hopefully the basic shape is there now – it brings the main characters back together in a more satisfying way than the original draft, mirrors the end of the first book and gives more space to take stock of how they and their relationships have changed.
The UK cover for A Little Hatred is now done, and the US cover is definitely getting there, hopefully to be revealed in the next month or two. I also wrote a little short story to go in the Waterstones hardcover edition of the book as an exclusive. Nothing at all essential but hopefully a pleasing confection for those that get it, and that kind of thing definitely does help retailers to give a book a push.
And then I read the page proofs of A Little Hatred over the last few days. It’s always interesting seeing a book properly typeset – it gives it a new level of polish and authority. It’s also, at least for me, the first time I just read a book of mine through in order without being constantly distracted by what needs to be changed or tweaked or rewritten. I find one’s feelings about a book don’t really crystallise until some time after it’s come out, and you have the chance to process all the many different things readers have to say, but I think I’m about as pleased with it as I’ve ever been with a book at this point. Time will tell whether that continues…
With the first book fresh in my mind it’s now time to look back at the second – which I think is now in pretty good shape but could certainly do with another go over in a couple of areas. Then I’d like to go straight onto the third and really crunch through to make a strong 2nd draft. Thereafter I can hopefully work on books 2 and 3 together as a unit, looking at the details of character, setting and language. That kind of work is something I can pick up and put down a bit more easily, which is just as well as by that point we’ll probably be getting close to the release of A Little Hatred in September, and there’ll be all kinds of other demands on my time…
43 comments so far
Thanks so much for the update. I am very excited for the new trilogy. I have two questions. First, how did you come up with the name of the new trilogy, and how different will the two covers be?
Excellent work Joe, bringing those regular updates for us, I can’t wait until September, too much time without First Law.
I love these updates. I’ll be anxiously awaiting September.
You are much better writer than Martin. In terms of literary skill he’s not even in the same league.
How did you go about writing characters for this trilogy that you considered poor in the original? Terez, for example, you’ve criticized a few times, once calling her “improbably icy” (I believe) but she’s the mother of one of the new protagonists, so did you try to stick to her original personality or improve her character at the expense of consistency?
All progress is good progress; thanks for updating
You mention there’s a short story going into the Waterstones edition of the new book. Is there any chance that story will be included with the audiobook version in the states? (I’ve listened to all of your first law-world books). After all, everything is better with a little Pacey.
Failing that, will there be a US hardcover edition with the story?
Thanks in advance.
I can’t wait to read the first book of the new trilogy
Great work, Joe. Thanks for the update. Can’t wait.
It’s from a quote by Dr. Johnson, “the age is running mad after innovation, and all the business of the world is to be done in a new way.” UK and US covers will be utterly different. About as different as it’s possible to be…
Oooh, good question – it’s 30 years on, so though you want characters to feel recognisably the same people you also want them to have developed, plus they’re going to feel different depending on the point of view. So Terez is significant in these books but seen more from the point of view of a beloved if exasperating son than a despised and unwanted husband. We also see her point of view briefly in one of those mosaic sections a la The Heroes which clearly gives her more depth. But I’d say overall the emphasis has to be on getting the new characters and their stories right, rather than necessarily righting old wrongs…
I expect that story will only be in the UK Waterstones edition for the time being – wouldn’t really be exclusive otherwise. But I daresay it’ll be published in another collection one of these days. Some of the stories in Sharp Ends were originally written as exclusive content in the exact same way…
You mentioned that A Little Hatred is the book you’re most happy with on your first read of the published work.
Before A Little Hatred which book would you say you were most pleased with on publishing day?
“It’s also, at least for me, the first time I just read a book of mine through in order without being constantly distracted by what needs to be changed or tweaked or rewritten.”
I sure do look forward to this with my work in progress. I can’t read through a single scene right now. If I locked myself in an otherwise empty room with one of my scenes (in progress) etched into a stone tablet, I’d still find a way to make edits.
“…but I think I’m about as pleased with it as I’ve ever been with a book at this point.”
That’s awesome. And I hope you stay as pleased with it for some time. And I look forward to it either way.
Great update Joe.
Any dates and locations set for book signings in September? Work is pretty busy that month but I want to get a day booked off so I don’t miss it.
I want to know what happened to Sand Dan Glokta. That is important to me to hear farther on in his story. He is probably dead by now but still. Can not wait!
I’ve always thought you had an incredible talent for coming up with names for your charachters and Tul Duru Thunderhead is one of my absolute favourites. It’s badass, it rolls off the tongue, it invokes certain pictures in a reader’s mind, it has a melodic quality. My question:
How did you come up with it? Just like that or is there a story behind it?
Thanks so much for keeping your readers up to date! Can’t freaking wait!
How’s life going otherwise? What’s that other project you’re working on? What are your thoughts on the new Game of Thrones episodes and Battle of Winterfell?
Lovely update, feels very sincere and gives us a great insight into what to look forward to. I really appreciate it thank you.
Only 5 more months! I just reread Best Served Cold and I love Cosca, I hope the new series has a worthy successor to his perfect combination of (mostly) feigned passion, narcissism, inappropriate sense of humor, and complete moral apathy.
Well publishing day’s still some way off, so that’s a slightly different thing than now – you’ll have had a fair bit of feedback to early copies by publishing day. Probably the Heroes was the book I felt happiest with while I was writing it.
No places or dates yet for the tour. I’ll post here when I’ve got some.
His Eminence will be along, never fear.
Man, names are tough. Sometimes they just pop into your head. Sometimes they take some working out.
Haven’t watched GoT yet. Probably I’ll leave it till the whole season’s out.
The Folio introduction is cool news. I received emails from them and knew about the book, but not the intro. It’s not possible to order it yet, but I probably will when Folio releases it.
I’ll have to tell my wife that I’m buying stylish clothing at Abercrombie & Fitch to explain the bills.
September seems so far away. Here in Chicago we had a heavy snowfall on Saturday, April 26 and then below freezing temperatures the Sunday after. Now it’s in the low forties and raining like the dickens.
Perfect weather to spend in the First Law universe…
Joe, when you format your manuscripts, do you try to emulate the final printed version of do you just go with the basic typewriter font?
As always, loving the updates! Quick question: will you be doing a book signing in Leeds when you release the first book? I right fancy a signed copy and it would be awesome to meet the man who wrote my favourite fantasy series. Keep up the awesome work!
awesome updates as always!
Do you know if any of the hardcovers will look similar to the 10th anniversary editions of this first trilogy?
I have all 3, and love the way the look and would be on the lookout for those!
Part of the strength of The First Law ending comes from the fact that the life of the main characters goes on without real closure after the series. It feels like it’s just a moment of their lives which goes on after the events of the book.
With some of the main characters reappearing in this book Last Argument of Kings ending is gonna get weaker?
PS: Love your work so far, keep it up!
(English is not my first language so sorry for any mistakes)
As you’re a fucking genius, I have to know if you’re doing a tour in America. Can’t wait to get more, I’ve read the series + the stand alones 3 times now.
That’s awesome you were asked to write an intro for George’s Folio book! Maybe he can return the favor someday. Are there any other authors you’d find pretty cool if they were to write an intro to one of your books? And I’ve always assumed author intros need to be written by similar authors, but is that really a rule? Probably just common sense. But I dunno maybe it would be more entertaining if they’re out of left field. Get Nicholas Sparks or Oprah to write an intro for you, ha!
Anyways, Happy Spring from California.
I do hope you’ve worked Ferro back into the story, she’s a favorite of mine. Just imagine what she would be like as a mother!
Hey Joe! What percentage complete would you say your rough drafts are. Do you consider your first, roughest draft of a book like 60% done, or is it more like 30%. Basically, how much work goes into the “getting it down” vs. the polishing, “rounding off” as you call it.
Also, are these books shaping up to be about the same size as your first trilogy, or are they more like Best Served Cold?
That is all.
Joe, can the Waterstone’s edition be ordered from the States? I know I can order something from them, but is it the McGuffin?
Never mind. Ordered the Watestones Special Edition.
Thanks for the reassurance about Glokta. I wanted to ask about him but felt silly until I saw Brook Blyzes’ post.
I’m sure Steven Spacey has a lot to do with it, but Glokta has to be one of my favourite fictional characters. Thanks!
That can’t be right…
Still 138 days to go till release – according to my Audible account.
Great news about Steven Pacey narrating again!
Seems a long time ago since I received ‘The Blade itself’ as the Editor’s choice from the Sci-Fi and Fantasy book club. Think i was too lazy to call the automated line and cancel the choice – as you had to in those days, and it just turned up, to lie unread for six months.
When I did start to read it though – demolished in two sittings. I just loved the gear changes when Logan would kick-off. I just hadn’t read anything like that before, and one of the few similar experiences since is when Jo Nesbo’s ‘Harry Hole’ goes haywire when he goes on a bender.
Well done Joe – I’m really looking forward to this trilogy.
Don’t know where I’ll be signing yet – more news when I have it.
No, they’ll look nothing like those. I guess they’ll continue to do 10 year editions for the other books, though? So if you wait for 10 years I guess A Little Hatred one might be along…?
The man who…
I’m not sure why it would make it weaker – I mean this is just another moment.
I’d like to do some US events but the costs can be hard to justify even for US authors, let alone if you’re getting me over from the UK. So we’ll see…
It’d be great if Tolkien could write an introduction to the Blade Itself but it’s probably not going to happen.
It varies, really, some first drafts are looser than others. And the last little tweaks and line by line rewrites can take disproportionate time. But I guess a first draft is maybe two thirds of the work? The second draft is maybe two thirds of what’s left?
Any TV/FIlm adaptation in the works??
Is that the unrelated March project??
I look to September with great excitement Joe! Last weekend I finished The Last Argument of Kings and have just had delivered The Great Leveller books, which I will no doubt devour.
You have quickly become one of my favourite authors Joe, and your stories sit on the top shelf of my bookcase alongside War and Peace and J.R.R Tolkien’s Middle-Earth books.
If you will permit me one question, how do you manage to keep your books consistently packed with dark humour? Do you have funny scenes/dialogue planned that you try to fit into the text, or while writing do you simply have moments of comedic inspiration? Or perhaps you are just naturally funny? 😛
Joe, you are one of my top three authors alongside Scott Lynch and Pat Rothfuss, basically I want to thank you for your hard working in publishing books so quickly to fill the years I have had to wait for anything new from the aforementioned. Keep up the punishing writing schedule!!
I love you (PS you are number one)
Hope you can make it to Manchester again. Been to a few signings now and it’s always fun.
Do you pay any attention to the reviews of your books following their release? For example, has a particular review ever really stuck in your mind and maybe even impacted your writing?
Thanks for keeping us posted, Joe! The new book sounds like it’s going to be fantastic, and I haven’t been this excited about a new release in aaages! After losing my Dad at the beginning of the year, I almost forgot what it felt like to look forward to something, but your books have been in my life for an awfully long time now and it gives me a great sense of comfort to know that there is more of those characters and that crazy, terrifying and amazing world yet to come. Thanks so much!!!
These updates are unbelievably valuable – especially for writers.
Maybe you’ve answered this before, but did you serve in the military? Just listening to the audio books of “The Blade Itself” and “Before They Hang” and describing MAJ West sounds like someone has had the challenges and actual headaches of a Major (being a Major myself).
I’m not much of a reader but a friend of mine suggested the Shattered Sea trilogy so I gave it a shot. I was instantly hooked and read all three of them in a matter of weeks. Please, tell me there are more stories that take place in the shattered sea world. What say you?
Im one of those who have listned to all your books and I wonder how much say you have in who gets to do the reading of the audioversions. I have had the Steven Pacey versions and think he has done exellent work!
If I had a comment, I would comment.
I think any scene planned to be funny is more or less doomed to be totally unfunny. For me the humour is just what results from the characters interacting, and then you know things come to you as you revise and refine, and the timing and wording improves.
For sure I pay attention to reviews before and around publication time. Certainly there have been criticisms that have made me think about what I’ve done and how I could’ve done it better. You should always be looking to improve. But at the same time you can’t take any one opinion too seriously. In the end it’s got to be what you want to write, not what someone else thinks they might want to read.
People sometimes ask me that, but, no, never served. Read a lot of military history, though.
Not yet, but never say never. And there are all those rather good First Law books as well…
Pacey was the suggestion of the publisher’s audio people way back when and I said sure – I think I’d always want him to do any first law stuff now.