Yes, folks, it’s true and I’m now allowed to talk about it. My new series is called Songs of the Drowned, and book 1 is titled The Stone Knife. It will be published worldwide in English on 12 November 2020 and you can read the press release here. I. AM. EXCITE!
It’s been a tough old road to get to where we are so far, which is the structural edit of The Stone Knife, because I spent a very long time wrestling with decisions including: should I write a new series set in the same world as Godblind? Should I write a new series that takes an utterly different approach? Should I write something lighter? Darker? Happier? Should it be sci-fi?
I had a lot of ideas of things I wanted to explore in the new series, but no concrete way of getting there. And then a character started talking to me, in a way. And I had an image of bare feet in rich black earth, and a story started to emerge. And I asked myself if I could take on something that had elements I know I can do well, but others I hadn’t attempted before. I wrestled with A LOT of self-doubt over the last year, even when I was writing the first draft.
Because yes, I could write another Godblind trilogy with my eyes closed. I could write in that world without so much as a prickle of nerves. But would that make me a better writer? Well yes, every book I write hopefully does that. But I wanted to consciously step outside of what I knew I could write and bring in elements I’ve always found fascinating when reading, in a “how are they doing this?” sort of way.
And, boy, have I regretted that impulse over the last year! Monsters, magic, grammatical conventions, I’ve got them all. At one point I realised that due to a bit of sloppy maths, my civilisation should be 100,000 years old and therefore would probably have developed interstellar flight and conquered the rest of the galaxy. Cue much frantic backstory deletion.
It’s hard to say exactly how I feel about the new book at the moment. Once I’ve finished this structural edit (which I should be doing right now; sorry, Jack) I’ll have a much better sense of it. There’s stuff I absolutely love, and tidying up two characters’ arcs is going to do a lot to the overall structure and feel of the book, as well as setting up stuff for the sequels. So at the moment I’m in the sweaty, what-if-it-doesn’t-work-out stage of editing.
It will; experience tells me that, and we’re in a good place with plenty of time if it does need a second round of edits, and I’ve of course got a great team working with me. But it doesn’t quite silence the voice of doubt or the flicker of anxiety.
But I’m starting to think that’s a good thing. As long as I can keep it under control, a bit of fear is healthy. It makes me work harder and examine what I’m trying to say in greater detail. It makes me refuse to skim a passage I think is probably okay and read it instead. It pushes me, and on the basis that writing can be a pretty solitary profession, having something do that is a necessity – for me, at least.
So yes! It’s announced and it’s up for pre-order on Amazon UK and Waterstones. I haven’t found a link to it in the US yet, but I’ll keep looking. If you’re so inclined, a pre-order would make me and my publishers very happy.
Meanwhile, I’ll be over here sweating and typing and muttering to myself about what a fool I was to try something new, while secretly relishing the challenge of pitting my wits against myself to see who wins. The best thing about that is, one way or another, it’ll definitely be me.