The Neverending Stories.
It's been so long since I blogged that my previous post is now considered an antique. Still, you can rest assured that it's not because I've been sitting around with my feet up, staring into the middle distance*. Fall from Grace, as you'll probably be aware of by now, is out on August 14, and copyedits for that took me all the way through to the end of May, mainly thanks to myself and my copyeditor spotting a timing inconsistency the size of the sun. I'm exaggerating, of course.
It was the size of the moon.
Somehow, in the (at a rough guess) seven zillion and one read-throughs I did of that book, pre- and post-completion, neither me, nor subsequently my agent, my editors (x 2) at Penguin, or my copyeditor (on the first read of it, anyway) picked it up. Of course, maybe that means it's not quite as big a problem as I probably think it is – but I was thankful to the general all-round brilliance of Caroline, my crack CE, nonetheless, who saved me from spotting it in the finished copies and probably crying a bit. Oh, who am I kidding? Crying a lot. (I hate finding mistakes.)
That oversight (and others) actually remain in the pre-release versions of the book that were sent out to reviewers and bloggers too (though I'm hoping most people will realise it's an error – if they spot it at all). I'm not sure how other writers work during the copyediting stage, but my books normally go through a fairly transformative process relatively late on, which is why – if you read the uncorrected proofs, as they're called, and then the finished version of the book, which is eventually available in the shops – you'd probably notice some decent-sized changes.
But, don't worry, mistakes aren't my only excuse. Alongside copyedits, since January, I've been busy writing Raker 6. People who have already finished Fall from Grace, and those who will come to do so over the next weeks and months, will already have a pretty good idea of where it's headed. It's been an idea I've been toying with for a while – ever since finishing The Dead Tracks, really – but it's only now, four years into the Raker story arc, that I feel it's ready to be told.
At this point – with it almost, almost finished – I can safely say, at times, it has felt like I've bitten off far more than I can chew. With every book I've ever done in the Raker series, I've always been determined to try something different, to challenge him in a different way, to give him a new environment to work in – and, by extension, myself. With Raker 6, I've attempted to do all of those things but, for the first time, this isn't a traditional missing persons case. In fact, in a lot of ways, it's not a missing persons case at all. Don't worry: someone does go missing, as it wouldn't be a Raker book without someone vanishing into thin air – but there's the Missing Person and then there's Something Else. Finish Fall from Grace and you'll probably have a pretty good idea of what the Something Else is – but the Missing Person? You'll have to wait for that.
The closer I've got to the end of Raker 6, the more my own reading has dropped away. For the rest of the year, I've always got a book in my hands, but as the end of a project nears – usually the last two months – I start to find it difficult to think about (and concentrate on) anything that isn't my own novel. Once a Raker book is done, I'll head right back to my humungous To Be Read pile, but since the end of June my TBR tower has continued to grow, without being eaten into.
Because of that, the last book I read (which I won't name here) has really stayed with me, not only because I loved its first half (though, sadly, not really its second), but also because its first half was broadly similar to an idea I had myself, and which I could never figure out how to make work in a Raker book. The nameless novel in question did a stellar job of setting things up, and yet the unfulfilled promise of its second half and (in my opinion) a series of bad narrative choices, has left me intrigued about the possibilities that might exist for my original idea. Mostly, it's focused my thoughts on how I could make it different to the book I read – as in, completely, unrecognisably different – while still retaining the echoes of that central premise.
In the end, maybe it's not possible, but these moments are indicative of the final stages of my own novels: not only does my reading drop away, but I start thinking about what comes next.
P.S. Since the last blog, I've read:
Hell House by Richard Matheson
Poppet by Mo Hayder
Flicker by Theodore Roszak
The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes
??? by ???
*Although I did plenty of that, don't worry.
Author of the David Raker novels