So my read-through of the page proofs of The Heroes is complete, and my accompanying short story also first drafted, which means from my point of view the text of the book is categorically and completely DONE. As if to prove it, US Advanced Reader Copies have recently gone out, and here’s one of mine:
Handsome, is it not? A more “promotional materials” style approach than the UK one, which aims to look as much like the finished book as possible. The sharp-eyed among you will also notice a startling discrepancy in heft. Yes, it is exactly the same book, but due to the vagaries of printing and paper stock the US proof is some 150 pages shorter and only a little more than half the thickness. Despite the monstrousness of the UK spine, it is in fact my shortest book for a while – about the same length as Before They are Hanged and a good 10-15% shorter than Last Argument of Kings or Best Served Cold.
You might think I would feel an overwhelming sense of self-satisfaction on the completion of this long and involved project (well, a sense of self-satisfaction even greater than my usual one), but in fact I find you don’t tend to get that as a writer. No moment of typing “THE END” on your clackety-clackety typewriter then perhaps flinging the final sheet away like Stephen J. Cannell used to at the end of his TV shows. Finishing the first draft segues rapidly into revision and editing, the editing process is naturally spread out and winds down through various stages, each with less impact on the final result than the one before. Writing a book peters out rather than ends with a sharp bang in the way the reading of a book does. And of course over the next few months people begin to read the book, and respond to it, and so it is very much still in your thoughts. Plus the nebulous end of the writing process for one book dissolves naturally into the nebulous start of the process for the next. Tis a strange business, all in all.
Looking back at my blog, I note in passing for any that might be interested, that I finished reviewing the page proofs of Best Served Cold back in April 2009, and although I’d already made a start on The Heroes at that point, it means that it’s taken me around about 19 months to write, 13 in the drafting and about 6 in the editing and reviewing. Given I had another child, moved at least twice and have planned and overseen a comprehensive building project in the same period, I’m pretty pleased with that. I mean, it’s no Brandon Sanderson level of productivity, but it’s ticking over. It also means, for those of an extrapolatory frame of mind, that predicting the same workrate, you can expect my next book to be hitting the shelves somewhere around the end of August 2012. Man, I can hardly WAIT to read it.
In other news, thanks largely to YOUR support, Bethod’s indestructible champion, Fenris the Feared, overcame and destroyed The Mule from Asimov’s Foundation series over at Suvudu’s cage match. I told you no small horse was going to get in his way. Alas, he now faces no less a villainous adversary than Lord Soth from Dragonlance. To be honest, I really can’t see the circumstances under which these two would fight, as I reckon they would have loads in common and really have a lot to talk about. Still, by all means vote if you’re keen to see Fenris take on either a Terminator or Eric Cartman. Man, you couldn’t make this up…