December 2015

I somehow seemed to miss out November's newsletter. I can't think what I was doing …? Ah, yes! That's it! I was writing! Editing the manuscript of suggested edits from my publisher, Duckworth Overlook. After an entire month off in October, where I caught up with everything else in my life - the day job, the wife, the kids, friends, fresh air, the world, November hit like a spurned lover. I knew The Fallen, the second in The Darkest Hand trilogy, needed work, and boy did I give it some. I didn't quite need to rewrite it for a tenth time, but there was a lot which, rightly, needed to be moved about, a lot which needed ripping out and burying in a deep pit, as deep as man can go, never to be uncovered again, and a lot of new stuff which still needed to be written. However, unlike previous times when the road I was walking/writing was a long and lonely one, here I had the signposts from my excellent editor to follow and worked on the manuscript knowing that everything now being done was about building upon, improving and enhancing, rather than trying to create from scratch. Nearly seventeen months down the line and, (I am guessing here), about 1,500 hours worth of work, the manuscript is now back with my editor. The final straight has definitely been sprinted into. The finishing line is in sight! The big question, I suppose, is The Fallen any good? Well, it certainly doesn't hold back. There's an awful lot of story, an awful lot of action, thrills and spills. If you liked The Damned, you should love The Fallen. There's a brand new World War One front to explore (the truly dreadful but little reported Italian front) and a whole host of shattering revelations. I also think it's a 'smoother' literary ride, in that there's not nearly so much jumping backwards and forwards in time, as there was in The Damned, (and had to be, I should add). I'm proud of it. I've given it my absolute all. It's the best novel I could have written for this moment in time, and so I don't think I can or should ask for anything more. I am having December off writing, with the exception of a further few amends and bits and pieces I am expecting back from Duckworth over the next week. A chance to recharge, take stock and prepare for book three, The Risen. I went horribly wrong in my approach to writing The Fallen, in that I sat down in September 2014 and starting writing it based on the plan in my head, rather than a clear and precisely worked out plan on my wall. It's how I wrote The Damned and my second novel, completely unrelated to The Darkest Hand trilogy, and got lucky with both those books working that way. Not with The Fallen. It almost killed me, all the false starts and rewrites. I cannot repeat that with The Risen, book three of the trilogy, not only because it really will do me in, but I simply do not have the time! Late delivery on The Fallen has put me back a good four months on my publisher's deadline so I need to work smarter and have a clear plan of what I am going to write before I start writing. One of my few skills in life is being able to write quickly - when I know what I am writing. It's time to call on that skill now! Have a lovely Christmas! If you're still 'umming' and 'ahhing' about gifts, why not buy your loved one The Damned - or maybe even buy it for yourself? What more could you want at this time of year than a clergyman with a gun and a gut full of anger?

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