Progress Report February ’19

February 28th, 2019

Two months into the new year already and the new trilogy is rapidly coming together…

A Little Hatred is now copy-edited, so finished apart from the final proof-read, and some advance copies are already in the hands of authors, reviewers and other lucky persons, including translators in a few languages. The book will be out in September in US and UK in hardcover, ebook and audiobook.

Meanwhile, a second draft of the second book in the trilogy, The Trouble With Peace, has now gone off to editors on both sides of the pond. There was a fair bit of work to do to that book. I really smashed through the first draft as fast as I possibly could, which was the right thing to do, I think, but meant that a few events, plot lines, character movements were a bit skeletal, and needed some fleshing out. Every point of view needed at least one significant extra scene, plus a couple of major new chapters, which meant the whole thing got some 25,000 words longer in this round of revision – very unusual for me, usually I cut some, add some, and end up around the same. Still, it was the book that needed the most serious work, and I’m a lot happier with it now.

Then I read through the third book, The Beautiful Machine, just to get a sense of where it’s at and how much work might need doing. Generally when I’m writing a book my first draft gets a lot better towards the end as I work out where I’m going. So it proved with this trilogy as a whole. By the time I was writing those final parts I knew the characters and where they were headed, so most of this final book’s already looking pretty good. The usual work of tidying, refining, and replacing the bland with the specific and the detailed in all kinds of ways but I think it’s only the last quarter of it that needs major work. I slightly mismanaged a plot line at the end, so a character had to move about a lot after the main climax – all a bit lumpy. I’ve now worked out a more elegant way of doing it, I think, which has the added advantage of bringing all the central characters back together right at the end so we can take stock of how they and their relationships have changed. More effective and climactic in all kinds of ways, I hope…

I’d forgotten how much work is involved in putting a book out there. Briefing art and interviews and videos for the sales conference and etc. Not that I resent it – it’d be crazy to put years of work into writing something but not the extra few days into giving it the best chance to succeed – and I’m actually really enjoying the thought of getting a new novel out there after a fair hiatus. But you forget how time-consuming it can be. Plus I’ve got a couple of little side projects that need some attention. Which means progress on the trilogy may be a little fitful over the next couple of months. But then we’re very much in the home stretch, I hope. Looking back at the blog it was September 2015 when I first started giving this series serious thought, so we’re coming to the end of a long old road…

Next thing will be a second draft of the last book, with a particular eye on sorting out that final section. Then I guess send it to editors so we can consider all three as a series, make any necessary changes to books 2 and 3 together. Then it’s 3rd draft of those two, trying to get more richness and detail into character, setting and language, which’ll take a while. Still, my guess is that by the time A Little Hatred comes out in September, the whole trilogy will be very close to complete.

Better start thinking about what I’m doing next, I guess…

Posted in news, progress by Joe Abercrombie on February 28th, 2019.

39 comments so far

  • Christopher Spiegel says:

    Cannot wait. Have loved each end everything you’ve done, Joe. I’ve become your unofficial publicist since I recco.end you to everyone i know.

  • Tommy says:


    Really excited for the September release. Are we going to be able to preorder signed copies for it? I still have my Half a King signed on display in my study.

    I really wish you could get a deal with Netflix to make The Fire Law a show. It would translate so well as a series.


  • Jessica says:

    Super excited to read this Joe! I have loved all your books so far, considering a reread before A Little Hatred. Also really like your progress reviews!

  • Filip says:

    Can’t wait for the new trilogy, also:
    How old was Nicomo Cosca when he was, supposedly, dispatched by the treacherous Sworbreck?

  • AJ says:

    Can’t wait! 7 more months.. I wonder if Brint will make an appearance, and if so if he’ll be even more bitter than the last time we saw him.

  • Marco says:

    As always Joe, thanks for the update. I know they detract from both the “real” work and leisure time, but they’re very much appreciated.


  • Twerker says:

    Joe, thank you, mate. Seriously, thank you. Have a lovely weekend.

  • Michael Berry says:

    Roll on September!!!

  • Christoph says:

    Sounds great, cannot wait!
    Any speculative, juicy ideas for what’s next? Maybe Science-Fiction (please;-))?

  • Joel says:

    Looking forward to September!

    I think you’ve mentioned before that a big part of the editing process is sharpening the dialogue to give characters a more distinct voice – but how do you do that, actually? Is it literally giving detail to the way they talk, like the words they use (e.g. maybe the character is the sort that says “He’s discombobulated” rather than “He’s confused) or the way they structure sentences (e.g. perhaps a character tends to speak like this “Handling others – he’s not good at that” vs “He is not good at handling other people”)?

    Or is it a much less technical than that, and really more about broader stuff like how commanding they seem, or how humorous they are, or even what they talk about (e.g. maybe a more self-obsessed person likes to talk about their own feelings, and never about other people’s?)

    Would be glad to have your insight, Joe!

  • Billy says:

    Can’t wait for this. Hopefully will come out first half of September ready for my holiday reading!

    Favourite Author by far.

  • Anthony Daccardo says:

    Hi Joe, this is why you and Brandon Sanderson are my two favorite writers. You keep your fans in the loop. It is really cool to hear about the whole process. Can’t wait for September.

  • James says:

    Joe, you’ve really nailed down an efficient way of working. At least that’s very much how it looks to me as someone who has, for some years now, been aspiring and struggling to write myself.

    Would you say you have a certain confidence that helps you along these days? As an unrecognised, unpublished author, I think there’s a tendency to be slowed down by doubt – we nonentities perhaps aim for something really stripped and sharp and end up second guessing whether every other sentence or paragragh really needs to be there.

    If not confidence, what?

    All the best, and, by the way, forget the film and read You Were Never Really Here (the novella) by Jonathan Ames. It is very short, and as such a tad “forgettable”, but by god, trust me, you will love it at the time.

  • Dennis Henley says:


    Are there big differences between the US and UK editors? Do they agree on the edits or do they get in shouting matches and storm off to their respective countries to sulk?

    When you get their changes do you pick and choose what you think are best or are the US and UK editions slightly different when published?

    Just curious.

  • Joe Abercrombie says:

    I expect there’ll be some retailers from whom you can preorder signed copies. Goldsboro books generally do it.

    According to my timeline 58-9.

    He’ll make a significant appearance.

    Voice in the dialogue, but also voice in the prose more generally of whatever Point of View I’m writing from. How do you do that? Some of it’s instinctive – sometimes characters have that strong voice right off, sometimes it takes trial and error, always it’s a process of revision and refinement, working out what works, suits their personality, their place in the story, and applying it as widely as possible. It’s patterns of speech, rhythms, use of contractions, word choice. It’s also recurrent concerns and motifs, the way they say themselves, the world, other people.

    Well every book’s a little bit different but I have a process that largely works for me. Generally by the time you’re at the end of a project it’s all working smoothly, at the start there’s a lot more trial and error and doubt. Some level of previous success does give you confidence, of course, but there’ll always be doubts about the current project, and expectation carries with it a different kind of pressure. It’s experience, in a way, more than confidence, knowing you’ve had doubts before but that the book came together in the end. You’ve got to keep moving forward. But it also doesn’t hurt to hold up and refine things sometimes until you’re more confident about them, so you can move forward with more purpose. Doubt and confidence are the yin and yang of the writerly life, really, they have to be kept in balance. Too much confidence can be as dangerous as too much doubt.

  • Joe Abercrombie says:

    Dennis Henley,
    The editions are identical. My UK editor is the primary, so she’s involved throughout and doing most of the detailed work. The US editor is acting as a new audience for the relatively coherent and already revised 2nd draft. It’s not really a competition, more a case of bringing things to my attention that concern them. sometimes they might suggest how problems might be solved, but it’s really up to me to decide what to act on, and what solutions I like.

  • Drew says:

    Thanks for the report! Can’t wait for September!

    It’s been quite a few years since I read (AND LOVED) First Law, and because my TBR list is quite large, I was wondering if the the new trilogy will require a re-read of the first trilogy for things to make sense?

  • Joe Abercrombie says:

    Might reward a re-read but certainly doesn’t require one. It’s intended to stand on its own. Work for new readers or old alike…

  • Stephen Hick says:

    Any inklings, to you, of what might come next? In other words does the next work gestate in the interstices of the editing process or are you focused only on refining these? Possibility of new short stories. Can’t wait for these though, but already anguishing waiting for more beyond.

    Do you know of sources for signed volumes in the US?

    Any hint there might be versions from Subterranean (with signatures)?

  • Rob says:

    Awesome! super excited

  • BlackJackKane says:

    I don’t want to sound too greedy. But…

    I’d really love another Sharp Ends. 😉

  • Taylor says:

    I’m really looking forward to this. It will be nice to get it in my hands going into next winter. I feel like you may have mentioned this in another post Joe, but how long of a wait will be between books?


  • Emerych says:

    “including translators in a few languages” can be possible to know if italian was one of ?
    I hope to read You in September !!!!!

  • Lukin says:

    Soooo freakin excited!

  • Joni says:

    Have you come up with a name for the new trilogy yet?

  • ten fingers says:

    Beyond excited. Can’t wait to see what youve done with Little Glokta. We can’t be done with Logan…right?

  • Jackpot says:

    Hey Joe, thanks for the update and roll on September.

    As for “What next” I’d love to know how Raith and Thorn Bathu are getting on aboard the South Wind!

  • hawkeyye says:

    What to do next? How about a prequel set before Blade Itself. Covering Logen, threetree’s, Dogman and the crew in their prime. I’m sure they had some some awesome adventures before they were split up by the flatheads.

  • Twerker says:

    @hawkeyye Oh, bloody hell, I approve of that. Ace idea, there!

  • Kefot says:

    Joe have you ever considered writing something completely different for a change?I love your fantasy stuff but I would like to read a mystery or sci-fi novel from you.

  • Dumond says:

    Swear to goodness, if this trilogy ends with a main character jumping off another cliff / out a window, I will do the same.

    Ideally into a body of water.

    (Still alive, still alive)

  • Stephen Hick says:

    I have to second Kefot, I think you doing somethng SF would be interesting.

  • Conner says:

    Hi Joe!

    Long-time fan 🙂 I’m curious after just finishing up a re-read of Best Served Cold, The Heroes, and Red Country… Does the now-unemployed Friendly find a new employer that can make use of his remarkable talents in the next series?

  • Dave J says:

    Hey Joe,

    I’m counting the days to September already, also interested to find out what you’ll do next! Just keep ‘em coming!

    The coming of the machine age will be interesting!!!

  • IA says:

    I’m such a huge fan of all your work!
    I read you are focusing on the Union and the North.
    No Khalul? No grand battle of the puppet masters?
    Or is that all for your next trilogy!

  • Teddy says:

    I cannot wait for “a little hatred”….Joe do you know how long it will progress for the GERMAN Publisher to translate it and bring it into the german bookstores?

    Hope a lot that “the morst feared man in the union” our beloved arch lector glokta will have a few “screen”time in the book. Wish for new creepy charakters like practical Severad and Frost and all the others. Not to mentioned, that it would be a fan service to read some lines about the bloody niners old years after red country.

    At the Moment i re-read the whole first trilogy the fourth time and it’s even never get boring.

    Your Work inspires me every day to hang in about my very own first novel and i am at the middle of the first draft.

    Respect and much love for you Joe. You are great and for me…one of the best fantasy authors in the world !


  • Billy says:

    You can always write the next Sharp Ends, Sharper Ends?

  • Scott M says:

    I am actually surprised that you need to bother with marketing meetings for your work at this point. In all honesty, the reputation of your work alone should be all that is required to sell you work… at least until such time as you start calling it in, which I cannot imagine.

    Of course, novels are a business, so I suppose in the abstract I get the publisher’s desire (and probably yours too) to broaden your audience.

    I also know not everyone who should have read, and enjoyed, your work has yet. In any case, I look forward to the new trilogy!

  • Marko says:

    I love your work dude, keep at it!

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