So the Trouble With Peace is out. You think something’s so far off it’ll never happen, then before you know it, it’s fading rapidly into the past. Went well, overall, I think, given that Covid has rather messed up the normal operation of the book trade. We managed to do take some events online, which was great – and I’m sure the fact that anyone, anywhere can potentially tune into those will mean that they become part of the routine in future – but I must admit I did miss the sense of occasion you get from actually getting out on the road and into bookstores. The trains and the cars and the schlepping around can be a ball-ache but there’s no substitute for looking into the excited eyes of the little people, queueing up for days in their countless thousands merely to catch a glimpse of me.
One by-product of the Covid situation was that there was a real backlog of big books to be published, and hence that competition in that particular week of september was fierce. I think I sold better with this book in the UK than ever before but only just crept onto the Times bestseller list at number 10. Very pleased with that, testament to the hard work of the team etc. etc. I think for the first time also this book sold more in audiobook in both the UK and US than in hardcover, which is both a sign of the times in terms of the importance of that side of the market and a ringing endorsement of the prodigious reading talents of Steven Pacey.
I seem to believe that at one time my fond dream had been that I’d have had book 3 in the series, now titled The Wisdom of Crowds, more or less finished by the time the first book came out. Perhaps predictably, the project has expanded to fill the time available, and I’m still working on the bastard after the second one has greeted the public. Still, we’re very close now: I’ve been attending to the Line Edit – which is where my editor goes through the manuscript in detail – at one time with a pencil but these days using track changes on Word – and I find ways to do what they suggest slightly differently than they suggested so I can somehow make a pathetic bid at asserting my creative independence.
Three or four slightly bigger issues were thrown up by that edit to consider, mostly concentrated towards the end of the book but also some stuff to have an eye on as I make my (theoretically) final pass of revision. This is usually focussed on the prose, which is to say the detail of the writing, mostly word choice and rhythm and generally making things sound as good as they can. For this I zoom in and make the words real big on my screen, which both helps for bringing out the details (ridiculous I know, but somehow it does) and makes you feel like a really big man when you make changes in huge letters. I find it gets harder and harder to make significant changes the more passes of revision you do – the whole things seems to set like concrete after a while and even swapping a word can feel like a massive effort. Eventually the time comes when you have to say you’re just not making much progress any more, and hand it on…
So the book should go off for its copy edit well before Christmas, with any luck, and then we really will be close to done. I also wrote a short story called The Point to go with a special edition, as I have with the other two books, and we put the cover copy out a couple of weeks back. So there’s no doubt it’ll be out in mid September 2021, and I’ll actually have managed to stick to the original regular schedule of 1 book every 12 months, which is pleasing. Famous last words….