Friday, 22 January 2016

Looking back, looking forward

Good evening!

I have a cold. A real stinker of a cold. Tissues are piling up beside my bed, my eyes are swollen – although that may be because I just read a whole book in one sitting – and I'm sneezing about forty times an hour. So this seems like a good time to write my first proper blog post of 2016: a blog post that will look back on last year, and forward to the new one.

As I'm sure you were all able to tell from the dearth of news, 2015, for reasons beyond my control, was a slower year for me than the two that came before it. Apart from the January whirlwind that was The Mime Order's publication and my US tour the following month, I did a lot of waiting in 2015. Waiting for my editor's notes on The Song Rising. Waiting for news to be released about the book. Waiting to buy an apartment. (I'm still not in one.) Waiting for the finale of Life is Strange. (Seriously, that game.) I did so much waiting, in fact, that I ended up starting a standalone high fantasy novel when I didn't have anything else to work on. 

The new project 

I can't begin work on Book 4 until The Song Rising is completely finished, as all sorts of things can change during editing, so for the months my editor had what was the then-untitled Book 3, I had nothing to work on. Nada. If you ever stood with me in the Underground, you'd know that I'm terrible at waiting. If I can't work on something; if I can't pour my imagination into a story, my brain feels like it's going to explode – but some things are meant to be. Although the wait was painful, I'm glad, in hindsight, that I had the time to start this new story. The Bone Season books are my priority, but I've always wanted to write a high fantasy, and I finally had an idea.

And I've fallen in love with it. I had a eureka moment when my little brother asked me to help him with his homework one evening, and the vague ideas I'd been toying with suddenly fell into place. I was starting to get worried that I wouldn't be able to think of an idea I loved as much as The Bone Season, but finally, I had a side project, and I was itching to start it. Within a few weeks, I had joined the British Library so I could access the books I needed to research it, and spent a few afternoons poring over books, familiarising myself with periods of history I haven't dived into before. The Song Rising is my priority now – my editor has given me some structural edits that need my full attention – but it's been wonderful to work on a new world between the stages of publishing. My agent has the partial MS and loves what I've written so far, so fingers crossed he can find it a home with a publisher in 2016. The book is inspired by Eastern and Western mythology and written in third-person from four characters' perspectives – two men and two women – so it's a very different creature from the Bone Season series. I got 70K words of this high fantasy done during my weeks of waiting, then decided to write 50K more as my first NaNoWriMo project.

NaNoWriMo 


NaNoWriMo. The Marmite of the literary world. Some swear by it; others can't bear hearing about it. I was always curious, but I was never brave enough to take the plunge. If you haven't heard of it, National Novel Writing Month is a project that encourages writers, however (in)experienced, to write the first 50K words of a manuscript . . . in thirty days. I'm a fast writer, but even I wasn't fool enough to think that this would be easy. I had one month before I needed to get on with Book 4, so this was my last chance in 2015 to get a big chunk of the new project done. So I set up my account, opened the manuscript, and got ready to write. 

Over weeks of late-night writing sessions, typing until my fingers ached and staring at a chart that tracked my progress, I discovered something about myself: I have a competitive streak. I was doing NaNoWriMo with a team of writer buddies, and seeing their word counts go up every day would drive me to my keyboard like a woman possessed. At one point, my friend Claire managed 15K words in one day. Some days I couldn't write for various reasons, so I had to work extra hard the day after to bring my word count up to the daily target. Eventually, I got to 50K a few days early. 


I'm not sure if I'll do NaNo again. Maybe. This year, it came at the right time and worked perfectly for me. I needed to produce a large amount of writing in a short amount of time, and NaNo was the solution. However, I spent most of the month in a state of semi-exhaustion, and I'm not convinced it would be helpful if I didn't desperately need to pump out that much work in a month. It was a lot of fun to be writing at the same time as so many other people, though, and there was a real sense of all moving towards the same goal of creating. It was a good feeling. 

Porto 

Me with Luiza

I haven't done many events recently, as I'm in that strange limbo between books, but I did have the pleasure of going to ComicCon Portugal a few weeks ago. Usually I'm quite nervous about events in different countries, as I'm never sure how many people will turn up, and I nearly burst into tears when my Q&A was full
 
– there were even people sitting on the floor. I know I said it a million times on the day, but thank you again to everyone who came. 

I was treated insanely well in Portugal. Luiza Gonçalves, who organised everything, did a terrific job of keeping the event running. I got to talk to two Star Wars actors, among other very talented people. And the food. I tried this one cake in Porto, called orange olive-oil cake, and I think I fell in love. With a cake. Yes.  


Speaking of comics 

. . . I wrote one. A mini one. A short story.

I'll be doing a longer blog about my first experience of comic-writing, but in short, it was a lot of fun, and it allowed me to try out a storytelling method I never had before. I was approached by Vertigo, which is part of DC, almost a year ago, and they asked if I'd be interested in writing a short story for one of their quarterly anthologies. The theme was 'Bang!' – one of the sound effects used in comics. With that word as my prompt, I wrote a story called Message from Yonder, illustrated by Marco Rudy. It'll be out in the anthology on 27th January.


The Song Rising 

I just sent off my most recent round of edits for The Song Rising, and I'll be meeting my editor on the first day of February to talk through the changes I've made and when you guys are going to get more information about the book (e.g. the cover). I am really pleased with how the manuscript looks now; I think it's much stronger than the first draft. I can't wait for you all to follow Paige in the next stage of her journey, and I want to thank you again for your immense patience in waiting for the next instalment of the series. Just know that when you do finally get it in November, it will be the absolute best it can be. 


More news soon.

5 comments:

  1. Great news, keep up the awesome work!

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  2. I can't wait to read your high fantasy! I love fantasies, so I'm curious to see how you bring your style and voice to the genre. I'm sure it'll be fantastic! :)

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  3. Feel better soon, and I am anxiously awaiting anything new written by you. You are an incredible writer!!

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  4. Hi , have just read the bone season, mime sitting by my bed - awesome reading, the 'not knowing' is great !! You will get through the mucus, you will find an awesome space for you to live , be comfy and create
    Believe!!

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  5. Yayyy I'm looking forward to the news about book 3 and hopefully your high fantasy book!! Keep it up you are amazing

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