Six months into 2018 and I HAVE FINISHED A FIRST DRAFT OF MY ENTIRE NEW TRILOGY. Let ring the bells. As I’ve often said, a huge amount of work still to do, but what is usually for me the toughest part is done and, thus far, I am pleased with the results. It consists of 3 books, 9 parts, 191 chapters, and around 520,000 words. It has 7 point of view characters, 4 men and 3 women, as well as a host of walk-on extras, many of them well known to readers of the First Law, and features at least one duel to the death, three major pitched battles and an awful lot of hangings. It takes place mostly in the Union and the North, some 30 years or so after the end of the first trilogy as the world moves into a more industrial phase. So the tone is inevitably a little different. Perhaps less self-consciously a take on classic epic fantasy than the First Law was, with its inscrutable wizardly mentors, boys with special destinies, dark powers rising and lots of swords. But I hope it will have the same qualities which made you love (or hate) the First Law – a tight focus on vivid and distinctive characters experiencing an epic sweep of love and war, with lashings of sex and violence (tastefully done, of course) a few twists in the tale and a rich vein of dark humour. And lots more swords, of course.
I also had a meeting at the publisher to discuss how things are going. Looks very much as if the first book, A Little Hatred, will be published September 2019 in the UK and US, with the other two books, The Trouble With Peace, and The Beautiful Machine, following at beautifully regular and predictable one year intervals. This is the hope. No promises are made, of course. That would be MADNESS. We also hope that at least some of the key translations can be done in the meantime, so we can make that release date across a few different languages, which would be lovely.
First thing on the menu for me is a re-read of all the other first law books to make sure I haven’t forgotten any characters, or interactions between characters, or history or geography explicitly stated before. I’ve just started the Heroes and so far I must say I am LOVING these books. Just my kind of thing. I warmly recommend them. Once that’s done it’ll be time to do put all the various notes and reminders I’ve scattered throughout various documents together into one action plan, and tackle a second draft of the first book, which is the heavy lifting on plot and central character – making sure the beginnings match the endings for each character, the key themes are well bedded in and the arcs silky smooth and believable while also doing a fair bit of cutting and polishing and introduction of VOICE. My first draft tends to be more neutral, and I then work on refining the voices of each character and getting them as distinctive as possible over successive rounds of revision.
Hopefully, by the time of my next progress report at the end of August I’ll have a nice tight second draft of that first book where everything makes beautiful sense. Then will come further rounds of editing and revision…