Progress Report October ’18

October 30th, 2018

So I’m really sticking to this whole progress report thing, huh? Impressive. No doubt that means I will immediately go silent for a year or two. We shall see.

Settled back in our house now and the major building work almost complete. Had a lot of sorting out to do, which is by no means finished, but things are steadily getting back to normal, whatever the hell that is. Worked out the other day it’s been nearly 3 years since we were last completely settled, so it’s nice that things are calming down. Whether you get more done when everything’s calm, or in fact you’re more productive when there’s loads going on, it’s hard to say…

To the matter! Finished the second draft of A Little Hatred in September and sent it off to editors both in the UK (for detailed notes) and in the US (for a first opinion).  Any of you who have actually followed my ramblings on process may recall that for me this is a revised and hopefully coherent version of the book that has the key characters’ voices working and the plot beats in the right places, incorporates a first round of big picture editorial comments and is probably 90% of the way there. I was wondering about cracking on with it while I waited but in the end it felt like it might be better to give that book a rest for a while and come back to it refreshed and with some outside opinion.  At this stage it’s all about getting the most out of each round of revision and not falling into a pattern where you’re just saying ‘yes, yes, fine’ to everything and really reading it through without changing anything.  

So I’ve spent the last few weeks working on the second draft of the second book, The Trouble With Peace.  Feels good to have tackled it, actually, since it was probably the book that needed the most work, and it did remind me of a few things I need to keep in mind when revising the first book.  I had a big multi-PoV sequence to add as well as a few extra scenes – something significant for pretty much every major character in fact.  Then many of the issues I was tackling on the first book applied here as well – working on the voices of some characters and getting some more personality into some key secondary characters, as well as building up a few plot lines that have ended up a little ill-served. As with the first book, I’ve been going through one Point of View at a time, and I’ve now got through three of the seven, though probably the most difficult three – the ones that have the most complex relationships, the most development and drive the plot most.  So you could say I’m half way through the second draft.

Looking forward, notes have now come in, so I’m ready to go back to the first book. November I’ll try to tackle editorial notes and also work on the setting – giving a bit more thought to some telling details, time of year, weather, that sort of stuff.  Then December will be for a final run through on the detail of the language and the voices of the central cast.  The aim is for A Little Hatred to be all done bar the copy edit by new year. That, I hope, will give plenty of time to get proofs out early in 2019 in preparation for publication in September.  Then, with any luck, I can get the second draft of The Trouble With Peace finished and off to editors by the end of January, leaving me time to tackle the bigger stuff on the third book, The Beautiful Machine.

Realised just the other day that it’s now an astonishing 6 YEARS since Red Country came out.  Where the hell does the time go?  In fact more time will have passed between the publication of Red Country and A Little Hatred than passed between The Blade Itself and Red Country. I did publish three shorter novels in another world plus a collection of short stories and draft a whole new trilogy in that time, so it’s not like I’ve been idle, but even so – it’ll be great to get a new First Law book out into the world.  Though clearly making no promises, it looks very likely the other two books will follow Sept 2020 and Sept 2021.

Although Red Dead Redemption 2 just got here so maybe I’ll just play that for six months…


Posted in news, progress by Joe Abercrombie on October 30th, 2018.

53 comments so far

  • Darren says:

    Great to read another update Joe.
    I’ve read everything you’ve published so far and am excited for the next novel. Out of interest will there be a short story to go with a little hatred like the shy south one that came with red country? I think I got that right.
    Looking forward to revisiting the first law world again.

  • Sally says:

    I can’t believe it’s been that long since Red Country! How times flies. I totally feel you re: unsettledness. I’m in the process of moving myself (currently living with parents in the interim) and I am absolutely sick to the back teeth of it. So much admiration for you that you’ve managed to stick to a writing schedule even amidst such distractions as Red Dead Redemption 2.

    Can’t wait for A Little Hatred! So exciting x

  • Eddard the Idle says:

    It really has been a while. Since finishing Best Served Cold, I’ve left high school, started and finished uni, and spent several years in a job. This was really formative stuff for me, and I eagerly await the next instalment.

    Anyway, very impressive progress. Do you think such a large pause mid-way through the second draft of The Trouble with Peace will be an issue? Jan19 must be a bit of a deadline, since I presume you’d prefer to work on the remaining four character arcs while the first three are still fresh in mind.

    Also, would your publishers change the release schedule if Winds of Winter were to come out around the same time? Surely they wouldn’t want the two series competing for sales.

  • Joe Abercrombie says:

    Darren,
    Possible there’ll be another short story. Not sure at the moment. Depends a bit on time leading up to publication, I guess.

    Sally,
    Part of being a writer is accepting you won’t always make great progress but just sticking at it regardless, I guess…

    Eddard,
    Things being fresh is not a huge issue, honestly. It’s nice to keep continuity but it generally only takes me a day or two to get my head around what I’m doing. Lots of little things getting in the way is more irritating than spending a few weeks on this, a few weeks on that. That sort of larger alternation can be helpful, keep things fresh.

    On release schedules, depends how soon you hear about it, I suppose. If you’ve set something a long time in advance and worked towards it, you’re unlikely to change for a whole load of reasons. There can be an upside to being published alongside something big. Not necessarily a zero sum game.

  • Robert says:

    Hi Joe

    Thanks for the updates. read the first law books obsessively last year and before, and waited on the blog for any kind of updates, which were a little sparser than the ones now. Brilliant that you are keeping everyone updated, just going to time my seventh (or more?!?) re-read for that September release date.

    Also I saw Gerard Butler in Den of Thieves recently. Played quite a gruff mean character…kind of like…

  • Louis says:

    Years ago I luckily downloaded a sample of The Blade Itself. And bro that’s all it took. The ole lady was pissed and I was hooked. I’m not trying to kiss ur ass here Joe, but I’ve read nearly every notable fantasy series ( also ones hardly anyone has heard of) and your books are my favorite. I could go on and on about how much ur writing means to me, and trust me bro it means a lot. But instead I’ll just keep on buying anything you write. It’s says a lot about a writer when all I have to do is tell somebody at work or my buddies, hell even my mom and dad to just download the sample of The Blade Itself and bam they become what I am. A Joe Abercrombie junkie.

  • Jack says:

    As always, thanks for the detailed report! It’s fun reading these behind-the-scenes processes of book preparation and publishing. Good to hear everything is progressing as planned.

    As for RDR2, the key is to take it in small dosages daily 😉

  • Paul Baker says:

    I have only pre-ordered two things in my life. Red Country and Red Dead Redemption 2. Now I guess I have to stay in for 6 months too…

  • Christian the 1st says:

    Thanks for the report, Joe. Really looking forward to more First Law books. Can you confirm we shall get a glimpse of Dogman, Shivers, Monza, Shy and Lamb ?

  • Joe Abercrombie says:

    Christian,
    Let me be deliciously vague. You will not see all those characters, but you’ll see quite a lot of some of them. I will say in general that the approach from the standalones continues – there are new points of view, and this is primarily their story. But a lot of familiar characters turn up in it.

  • Christian the 1st says:

    That’s enough for me. cant wait, Joe. thanks for responding.
    2019 is gonna be killer. New violent delights from literary giants, Abercrombie and Ellroy.

  • Brian Turner says:

    Thumbs up for posting the updates. 🙂

    So, what will you be working on *after* this new trilogy? 😉

  • Jon says:

    Looking forward to reading the first one. Just thinking about all the work you put into it and it’s read in a week or two! Great value for money

  • John says:

    Oh Great One, thanks for the update and giving us some firmish dates for new trilogy. I have never so looked forward to new reading material. Two questions:

    One: with so much time between publications, has your opinions on some of your characters changed over time, and are you using these new books to “mature” your thoughts on some of these characters: Temple, Shy, Monza (especially) etc.

    Two: “Best Served Cold” was my first book of yours (and still my favorite). Please answer this question… were Monza and Benny just siblings or more? I go back and forth and after five readings still not sure. Any insight you can provide?

  • Joe Abercrombie says:

    John,
    1. Characters used before tend to shift back into the background so new characters can take centre stage – I guess the great majority of effort goes into making the new ones work. Far as the old ones go it’s fitting that some of them have changed and moved on. Others are much as they were.

    2. I don’t generally like discussing things that are ambiguous in the books because the ambiguity is part of the point. But I never thought that one was all that ambiguous, honestly…

  • Nate says:

    A friend of mine was at the brink of tears explaining to me how much he hated his job so I was like “it’s better to do it than live with the fear of it”
    He still hates his job, but I came off super wise. He makes a shit ton, I’m a good friend

  • Dumond says:

    Wow. I had no idea it’d been that long since Red Country! I DO really like being able to mark the passage of time in my life by thinking of when I read these books (undergrad with First Law Trilogy, later on with Best Served Cold and The Heroes, and so forth). Fond memories for sure.

    Also, not gonna lie, running around in Red Dead Redemption reminds me slightly of Red Country. You getting on that particular hype train or avoiding it in the interest of having a social life / working?

    I can’t imagine shifting into the POV of brand new characters, given how hugely attached we’ve become to the ones from the previous trilogy (yes, including Jezal), but I get that these characters couldn’t continue being the main heroes / villains / antiheroes forever.

    Thanks for the updates!

  • Jarl Miller says:

    Joe,

    I just finished Half the World and I was curious if your stance on ‘magic’ is similar in the next three FL books. I know you like magic in your books to be unexplained and low-key, but I find moments like Skifr’s battle explosion (burst of energy?) and Logen’s bloodlust to contradict that stance. As without those magic sequences, surely the plot would change and/or characters would just straight up die, right?

    I guess my question is how as a writer do you balance out the fact that there does exist magic in the world, and it does come into play in major scenes, yet it’s essentially just existing, as if the readers should already know how it works? Hopefully that makes sense.

    Can you be vague on any details of ‘magic’ in the new trilogy (E.g. Logen saving fire in his mouth like a squirrel)? Will there be any moments similar?

    Thanks!

  • LadyBird says:

    I see a few people mention wanting to see Shy again, but I’m more looking forward to see if Ro will be included in this series. With everything that happened to her, she should make for a very interesting adult character.

  • Nikola Kambourov says:

    Hey Joe,

    Keep up the great work, man; your writing has successfully spoiled the rest of fantasy for me. It all reads…weak and watered-down.
    Also, can I lick your earlobe?

    Cheers!

  • Steve Hick says:

    Joe, previously you have discussed that some of your books are written as to evoke or emulate a type of novel or literary type,e.g., Red Country as a western and evoking something like Eastwood’s the Unforgiven. Are there some of these elements in your latest trilogy and if so, what? Purposefully or serendipitously done?

  • Joe Abercrombie says:

    Jarl Miller,
    Certainly I prefer magic to stay magical, if you like, a little unexplained. There’s still some magic in this new trilogy but less than before, if anything. It may be that when you’ve read Half a War you’ll think differently about the ‘magic’ in that series…

    Steve Hick,
    First Law is very consciously a take on epic fantasy, of course. The standalones each took a film, or a filmic genre, you might say, as the inspiration, and mixed in all kinds of other stuff. Best Served Cold was the gangster film, The Heroes the War Film, Red Country the Western. I think this new series will be less identifiable in that sense. Nothing new under the sun, and I’m not myself a big believer in originality for its own sake, and perhaps others will feel differently, but I find it quite hard to characterise.

  • Dan says:

    Hi Joe,

    Love the updates, man. I can’t wait to get started on this new trilogy. I think I go back to the other six first law books, on audiobook, at least once a year.

    Speaking of; are you and Steven Pacey going to team up again? I mean that guy is amazing, and fully complements the world you’ve created.

    Also, how ace is Red Dead 2? You a ps4 or Xbox man? I’m putting a crew together for the eventual release of online, and I think there could be a place on it for Lord Grimdark 😉

    Keep up the awesome work!

  • Hogsta says:

    Hang on a cotton picking minute. Isn’t this the third draft of A Little Hatred? You drafted the first two books, then did a second draft of the first book. Then did a first draft of the third book. And then redrafted the first book before sending for big picture editorial comments. Surely that makes it the third draft. I’m not sure why this is upsetting me so much, I’m going to lie down.

  • Joe Abercrombie says:

    Hogsta,
    Yeah, you’re right, I guess someone’s listening after all! I guess I considered that one a sort of one and a halfth draft. I often find what happens when I write a book is that the first draft gets tighter and tighter as I get towards the end and realise what I’m doing, get comfortable with the voices of the characters etc. With this trilogy, after finishing the second book I already knew a lot of stuff I wanted to do to the first and a lot of where I was going with the third, so I sort of went back and tightened the first up a lot. But I wouldn’t consider it a finished second draft because further things occurred while writing the third, if you will. But this is the reason why I feel the second book is currently the loosest, and I will feel a lot better after getting that to a second draft state…

  • Alex Pendergrass says:

    Thanks for the updates on the new trilogy! I myself hopped on the bandwagon with Half a King, and then blazed through every word of yours available for purchase in print. Speaking as an amateur salumist, it’s such a treat to get to hear how the sausage is made.

    If you do get around to playing some Red Dead 2, I’d definitely be interested in hearing your thoughts…

  • Tyler Harris says:

    Idle, my friend? Idle?! What are you high? You’ve put out more quality stuff than most writers do in a life time! I wish more writers were like you. Seriously.

    RDR2, six mouths? Bah, Come on, you can finish that in two or three. First one wasn’t that long. Awesome, but not half a year long.

  • Jason says:

    I second the Steven Pacey comment from Dan. You two together are the best team ever. I really, really hope he’ll be doing the new books. Whenever I can’t find a new audio book to listen to I just start the First Law and the stand alone books over again. I have no idea how many time’s I’ve listened to them but its a lot. Thanks Joe!

  • Storm in the High Places says:

    Hey Joe,
    Really excited for the new trilogy. September cant come soon enough. I cant believe it been 6 years since Red Country, time is flying for sure. Were gonna have to start calling you Joe R.R. Abercrombie… just kidding. Keep up the great work Cheif.

  • Neil Cooper says:

    Excellent work Joe, really looking forward to reading them.

  • Joe Abercrombie says:

    Dan, Jason,
    Yes, the plan is absolutely for Steven Pacey to narrate. He’s been brilliant for the books and I’d always want him for anything First Law related. I could be wrong but I believe he’s already been booked to read…

  • AJ says:

    Can’t wait for the new book Joe! Will we be seeing more of everyone’s favorite notary/carpenter/drag rider, Temple?

  • katzeee says:

    Thanks Joe for keeping these updates coming regularly…

    One question: I especially like the appearance of initially minor characters in later volumes, like Vallimir or Forest. Do you already have a background story for these characters when you create them?

    I guess Glokta or Ninefinger have their CV on your desktop, but how big must a character be so that you have more than name and social status in your head?

  • Jennifer McMenemy says:

    It will indeed feel good to have another First Law book in the world again. Any designs for a US book tour following the release?

  • Olle Norgren says:

    I simply cannot wait, you sir are probably my favorite author. Altought you might have to duel GRRM or Andrzej Sapkowski for the honor. All this talk about a new First Law book has got me so fired upp im planing a roleplaying campain set in your amazing world.

  • Bruno Bueno says:

    I really love your reports. They keep me from dying from anxiety.

  • Chad says:

    Joe,

    Thanks for the update on the books.

    Since it’s been so long though, don’t you think that you should update your photo so we can see how time has ravished your once-pleasing features? That’s the update we really want.

  • John says:

    Its funny you mention Red Dead 2 and Red Country in the same posting :-P.

    My wife and I eagerly await A Little Hatred. It was actually funny because my eldest son started reading the Blade itself!

  • Marco says:

    The update is very much appreciated.

    Thanks, Joe!

  • Rob Sharpe says:

    Hey Joe,
    I am just starting Witcher 3 – have you played it yet

    Rob

  • Rob Campbell says:

    Thanks for the update, Joe. It’s always good to hear that work is progressing nicely and that we’ll have another masterpiece to look forward to relatively soon. You approach to updates of work in progress is a refreshing change to many in the industry – in fact I’ve nicked the idea and do progress reports on my website. Not that anybody reads mine of course.

  • Haden Randle says:

    Very excited for the new trilogy, currently rereading the series and loving it as much as the first time. My favorite character is Glokta and I will miss his wit. I also really like Shenkt and I hope he’s in this series and we maybe find out a bit more about him.

  • Matt says:

    Hi Joe,

    Thanks for the updates! A lot of the first trilogy (and also even the stand alones) always came back to the conflict between Bayaz and Khalul and their pulling the strings of different nations. I loved this and was wondering if we’d get to learn more about their history in the new trilogy?

  • Black Jon says:

    I had no idea there was so much back and forth between writer and editor. I have always thought you were a pretty prolific writer Mr Abercrombie and I am in complete awe of your work and the speed with which new books are on the shelves. As a massive fan of TFL and good fantasy series’ in general, it is a real treat to have a book every year or so. Thank you for the effort that must take.

    Can I ask please, I have always wondered if the aesthetically beautiful Adua and the Agriont in particular are inspired by Bath? which I believe is your home town.

    Also, any tips for a would-be writer?

    All the best,

    Black Jon.

    P.S. I am seriously considering getting Black Dow’s name tattooed on my arm. But please don’t tell him!

  • Yevgeniy says:

    Thank you for the update. I can’t wait to see what became of that world and the waves your characters have left.

  • I can’t wait to read them. I have been saving the short stories until we got close to the new book. I wanted to be able to dive back in. I think it is time to read them.

  • BrianJ says:

    So excited to read this update! First time I’ve caught a post and what joy that I get to hear of a new First Law trilogy. Dare we hope for an appearance from a certain anti-hero? Far and away my favorite character from any author, ever(I’m sure you’re told some variation of the same thing often). Good writing sir thank you for your craft and I look forward to the continued journey!

  • Thore says:

    Im a bit late, but i have a question:

    Will the pov´s stay the same for all three books, like in first law I-III?

    Or will it be like with the shattered sea trilogy, new pov´s every book?

    thanks and looking forward to the books!

  • Mark says:

    Dear god-like superstition. I miss your writing. BTW, what happened to the Shattered Sea series on Audible?

  • Jim Kay says:

    The one comfort through a pretty pants year has been Steven Pacey’s readings of your wonderful stories, which I am listening right through again for the fifth time while I work (I illustrate books – colouring in for a living, effectively). It’s kept me company in an otherwise solitary profession, for which I’m extremely grateful to both you and Mr Pacey. His narration keeps me sniggering all day, particularly his Nicomo Cosca. Just great stuff, and manna from heaven for those who like scribbling. Thanks again.

  • Mark B says:

    Joe,
    Thanks the update on the new trilogy – and the revelations on the depth of work that the books go through. Understanding the process that you follow to get the characters to ‘where they demand to be’ is fascinating. It’ll make the books even more enjoyable when I (we all) read them.

    Thanks again. That’s it, BestServedCold has to get back to PUBG!

  • Joseph Leonard says:

    Words alone cannot express how bloody exited I am about this new trilogy. I feel like a kid, and next September is my Christmas. I’ve read allot of books, but I have yet to find another writer who’s books truly entertain me the way yours have. The combination of dark humor and pure badassery are unparalleled. Thank you for this gift.

  • Alex says:

    Hello! My name is Alexandr. I am from Russia.
    Joe, thank you for “The First Law”, “Best Served Cold”, “The Heroes” and “Red Country”.
    I read these books more than eight times and I think that I will read more many times
    “The Shattered Sea” is very interesting too.
    I’m sorry for my bad english)

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