Fifth Time Unlucky.
The past fortnight has been spent working on the latest edit of THE DEAD TRACKS, and it's been a frustrating and ever-so-slightly fearful time. Each successive edit of a book should, in theory at least, become easier, as the really hard work – the big, complicated structural changes – is done when the book first comes back from the editor, rather than at this stage, four or five months down the line. Instead, this past week, I became very worried about one particular sub-plot, and from there ended up retracing my steps back through the manuscript in order to address it. This was never the case with CHASING THE DEAD. In that book, everything was pretty much locked down by the third or fourth edit, and all I was doing was addressing tiny, tiny things like spelling or dialogue, or the rhythm of the narrative. In THE DEAD TRACKS, I've been making important changes to a fifth edit.
This isn't an ideal situation. The book is supposed to head into the machine at Penguin this week, where a copy editor will go over it with a fine tooth-comb, and of course it'll be the first time that this new, adjusted sub-plot has been in there. Ideally, my editor would have had the time to cast her eyes over it properly, as a whole novel, rather than in the bits and pieces I emailed her this week. But, ultimately, there wasn't much I could do. Time wasn't on our side, I really felt strongly that it needed changing, and better now than in nine months time when it's already sitting on shop shelves.
Apart from that minor emergency, though, I have to say I'm pretty happy with how the book has gone. It feels like enough of a departure from CHASING THE DEAD to avoid accusations of repetition – it's certainly more ambitious – but people who read and enjoyed David Raker Part 1 will, I hope, immediately feel at home in the world of David Raker Part 2.
So, what's next? Well, next is some down time, where I hope to read a little (that means polishing off The Raw Shark Texts, which I still - rather embarrassingly - haven't finished), watch some TV (including the finale of Lost) and enjoy the warmer weather. And once I start getting itchy feet after about two and a half minutes, I'll probably start thinking about Book #3. I've got most of a basic and (I think) pretty interesting plot figured out in my head, some of which I've already got down on paper, and some of which has yet to form, either on paper or in my brain. But I enjoy the early stages of a book, despite not always having it 100% figured out from the off. I like returning to a blank canvas after a year (and usually a bit more) of working on the previous book, and I like heading into the next stage of Raker's life and seeing what new and horrible things await him...
Author of the David Raker novels