So, once again it's taken me two months to update this page, but - as always - I've come armed with some brilliant excuses. The obvious one is that The Dead Tracks is finally in shops now, and I've been busy doing a few things with that, including interviews and Q&As which I will attempt to link to (as soon as I have them) here. There's also been the official launch night, on Tuesday 22nd February, to think about. That'll be here in my home town of Bath, and anyone and everyone is welcome to come along - if it's anything like last year, it should be a bit of fun.
To be honest, it's always a good feeling to finally be able to talk to people about my books. You end up spending so much time with them – so much time alone with them – that to hear other people discuss them is such a joy. (Less so, of course, if they absolutely hate what they've read but I have to say, so far at least, most people have been very kind about the Raker series.) I think one of the big things I worried about with The Dead Tracks – more even than with Chasing the Dead – was where in the story readers would second-guess me. Maybe it's a perennial fear for writers, especially thriller writers, because thrillers are – by their nature – built to thrill, through surprise and misdirection, but on the second book I got to know the workings of the world so well it became hard to get any distance, and it became harder to critique what I'd written in the same way a new reader could. I bothered my agent and editor over and over about it, and each time they told me it was fine. But by that stage they'd read the book four or five times themselves, so whilst I trusted their view, I was never quite able to let the feeling go. Fortunately, when I finally got bound copies in, I went back through the story and I started to feel better about it. And, after that, the first feedback began to roll in, from readers and reviewers, and it seems my worries were largely unfounded, as they often are.
I think The Dead Tracks is a step up from Chasing the Dead. I think maybe it's a little better. I like the characters more, I like the conversations they have more, and I think the storyline is more interesting and, ultimately, more rewarding. But not everyone feels the same way. Some readers have told me they preferred Chasing the Dead, and I don't mind that at all. As long as people continue to have fun with the Raker novels, it doesn't matter to me which one they prefer. But, whatever happened and however people reacted to it, The Dead Tracks was never going to be just another reboot of Chasing the Dead. I was determined to take Raker off in a new direction, meeting (and working alongside) new people, and I wanted to see how he would change as a person (because even with a plan in place, I wasn't entirely sure myself). To try some different things was important to me. The events of Chasing the Dead were so traumatic, there was no way you could replicate that formula without stretching believability. Sure, you have to suspend disbelief in any form of fiction, but Raker needed to react to what happened to him in the first book, and – as he says at the start of The Dead Tracks – make sure it never happens again. I've always said I see the books working like seasons in a TV show: each season is a self-contained story, but each season deals, and continues to deal with, the events of the previous one(s) – even if only in a very, very minor way.
Finally, a quick word on Book 3 (the major reason for this blog being so late): it's coming along. I don't want to say much more than that, really, not because I'm trying to be deliberately teasey, or because I'm attempting to add some mystique to proceedings, but because I'm conscious of getting ahead of myself on this one. Let's just say it's been a struggle... but now, finally, I'm starting to see some light at the end of the tunnel. Phew.
Author of the David Raker novels