So, DAVID RAKER 8 is finished. It’s actually been finished for a couple of months, and since October, I’ve been working hard with my editor on knocking the manuscript into shape. It can be a long process, a fiddly one too, but I always look forward to this part. After ten months of working alone on a book, and (if you're me) pretty much doubting it the whole time, it’s somewhat liberating to be able to discuss it with other people, to get their feedback, and to work (in theory, at least!) towards making it a whole lot better.
It’s possible, in fact probably very likely, that the work of an editor is underestimated by readers; I certainly had no idea of how vital they were to the process until I became published myself. But a good editor will improve your book tenfold: they will show you the things that don’t work, they will challenge your viewpoint, and they will suggest ways in which the story and characters and structure could be improved. They’ll also, initially, be the number one cheerleader for your book as well. Ultimately, it’s up to the writer whether they take any of that advice on board, but 99 times out of 100, I personally do –– because 99 times out of 100 my editor is right.
In the spirit of a telephone salesman, I should probably mention at this point that, if you’re a newsletter subscriber, and you definitely should be, you’ll have already read an extract from Book 8 in the Christmas email. (If you haven’t signed up to the newsletter, you can do so here.) The extract amounted to three-quarters of the first chapter and, although it gave a taster of what’s to come, it was minus that chapter’s ending, which in turn sets out the book's key premise. I’ll be running the first chapter in its entirety in the Spring newsletter, so I’m loathe to talk too much about the plot for now, but I will say, this missing persons case is something very, very different for Raker.
While I’m in hard-sell mode, I may as well mention my Instagram page too, on which (sell sell sell) I first revealed that I’d also started DAVID RAKER 9. It’s the incredibly early stages of Raker 9, admittedly – I literally only know how it starts so far – but I really enjoy this part of the process. It’s a clean slate, with absolutely nothing in place and nothing to rule out (yet), and the only thing I know for sure, the only thing I can definitely rule in, is David Raker himself. Beyond that, absolutely everything is up for grabs. (Within reason, of course. I don’t think the world is ready for space unicorns. Or maybe they are. We’ll have to see when Raker 9 comes out.)
I think I’ve blogged about this before, but I place high importance on trying to do something different with every book. For me, that doesn’t mean just changing the way a serial killer murders someone. (Not that I’m saying there’s anything wrong with that, of course.) There’ll always be a missing person, because that’s as fundamental to the series as Raker, but everything else I will look at and revise. I will always go back and see if I’ve done something similar before and, if I have, I generally scrap the idea and start again. There are occasions when, in a series, it’s impossible not to repeat things: characters, minor beats, the fundamental building blocks of a thriller. But I hope that each of the books is broadly remembered as offering something different to the one that preceded it. I always think, if a reader can remember one key set piece from each book – a place, a scene, a character – then, as a writer, you’ve done your job.
So that’s where I’m at: almost at the end of one process and about to begin another. All of that, and I’ve managed to write half of a standalone novel that has absolutely nothing to do with Raker at all. But that’s a whole other story…
P.S. Since the last blog, I've read:
The Crossing by Michael Connelly
Blindsighted by Karin Slaughter
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
Maestra by LS Hilton
Bird Box by Josh Malerman
Sirens by Joseph Knox
Defender by GX Todd
Author of the David Raker novels