Firstly, apologies for how long it's taken me to update the blog. I promised myself that I wouldn't be one of those people that was always complaining about never being able to find the time, but that's exactly what I'm about to do. I do have good excuses, though. Honest. Firstly, I was working every hour God sent (and a few that He didn't) trying to finish a mammoth first edit on Book #2 – and all before the 24th March. Why the 24th? Because that was the day Family Weaver and I flew out to South Africa for a two-and-a-half week holiday, and I was determined not to leave a chunk of the rewrite for my return. I've found there's nothing worse than really getting on a roll with an edit (especially one where you're losing 20,000+ words – which is what's happened with the, er, slightly over-written Book #2), abandoning it for a while and then having to pick it up again while you're still mourning the loss of good weather and extreme amounts of holiday eating. Anyway, the good news is that I did manage to finish it before I went – just – and get it off to my lovely editor at Penguin... which means – a day after landing back in the UK – I find myself in the strange position of having a few spare evenings on my hands before the book is returned to me for the next round of edits. It's a nice feeling.
One of the great things about non-writing time (and this is especially true when I'm on holiday), is that I finally get the chance to catch up on my reading. I'm not sure if it's a weird quirk unique to me, or whether a lot of writers feel the same way, but I find it very, very hard to read other people's work while I'm in the process of writing or editing my own. In fact, since things really took off with CHASING THE DEAD, I've read a pitifully small amount of books compared to my pre-published days. Principally, I think it's down to the fact that my tiny brain can't handle the process of dipping in and out of someone else's world while being fully immersed in mine. I find it a jolting, concentration-effecting experience. But mostly it's to do with fear: I'm scared someone else will have come up with the same idea as me – and will have done it better, first. So far, in the reading I've done in my down time, that's never been the case, but the worry is always there in the background, vaguely threatening to ruin my best laid plans.
While I was away, I had the good fortune of taking John Connolly's The Lovers away with me, which I very much enjoyed (although I'm not sure it's up there with his best – for me, Every Dead Thing, Dark Hollow, The Killing Kind and The Unquiet are him at his most terrifyingly brilliant), Joe Hill's Heart-Shaped Box (terrific premise but, for my tastes, a bit on the slow side) and The Raw Shark Texts by Steven Hall which I'm halfway through and – so far, at least – am finding to be brilliantly bizarre, hugely inventive and really fun. I only wish I could read faster. I'm one of those really s-l-o-w readers that takes in every word, never, ever skim-reads and really slams the book shut hard after the last page is done, as if to prove to everyone I took in, chewed over and analysed every letter.
I found The Lovers an especially interesting read, not only because I'm a big fan of John Connolly, but because I wondered how people new to the Charlie Parker series would find it. For me, it relied more heavily than any book I can remember on the reader having an intimate knowledge of events and characters from the previous seven novels (as well as Parker short story The Reflecting Eye and even non-Parker outing Bad Men). Did new readers feel excluded when he frequently referenced events and villains (and even brought back characters) from Every Dead Thing, Dark Hollow, The Killing Kind and The Unquiet? Were they hopelessly confused? Or did it, in fact, make them want to seek out the other books in the series so they could fill in the blanks? I would love to hear Connolly's take on it. Like him, I'm keen not to let major storylines be played out in isolation. In Book #2, David Raker should reference what happened in CHASING THE DEAD (without delivering massive, book-ruining spoilers) and major, life-changing events (as well as the relationships he has built up) should segue into the new book – but, at the same time, I feel it should also operate as a standalone with absolutely no barrier to entry. Getting the balance right is just one of the many balls you end up juggling in the editing stage.
Oh, and one last thing. I'm getting a bit sick of calling Book #2, well, Book #2. So it's time we gave it an official name. The title of the second David Raker book will be THE DEAD TRACKS. And it's out 3 February 2011. More details to follow soon, I promise, but better pencil it into your diary ;-)
Author of the David Raker novels