I think I always knew, when I started this site, that committing to (at least) one blogpost a week was always a foolhardy gambit, and one destined to fail at some point. In hindsight, I’m amazed it took this long for it to happen – and to be honest, I hardly doubt if anyone’s going to have even noticed.
I wish I could come back here with reams of updates and news about my projects, and gleeful reports about how much writing I’d got done in the last few weeks. This, sadly, would be a little untrue.
The fact is I took a week off where I deliberately got very little work done – that was more for self-care than anything else, and for my own peace of mind. I deliberately did a little more reading (for pleasure, not for research), binged a little TV, did some art and carved out more time to speak to friends. You’d think that spending time in isolation without the bustle of a day job would give you more time to interact with each other, but I’ve often found since the pandemic the opposite has been true.
The week after, life overtook us all a little bit, as it often does. My sister is preparing to move to another city to start a new job, and the logistics of uprooting one’s life have swallowed up quite a bit of all our time. Rather less happily, we also had to deal with the sudden (if not surprising) death of an elderly family friend, which both practically and emotionally gave us quite a run-around. Anyone who’s ever lost anyone will know that there is a surprising amount of admin that goes with death, both before and after the fact.
Since then, I’ve been trying to get back into the saddle of work, with various success. I’ve left The Ebony Tomb to simmer for a little while, as (despite the watertight planning that went into it) it was starting to stall and flag unexpectedly, which would only have ruined all my productivity otherwise. Given how long it’s been, and the need to jump back into another huge project, I’ve already started work on Book II of the Ironbreakers series, which as I’ve already revealed will be called Prince of Knaves.
I’ve already had a fairly solid idea of the novel’s plot for a while now – both in my book of notes, and in my head – but when I say ‘working’, I mean doing all the groundwork before I even properly start writing. That means research. A whole lot of research I need to do first, just like I did with Legion That Was. There’s no right or wrong way to research in my opinion, and you’ll never know if you’ve done enough. But this time round there are quite a few more actual historical characters cropping up in the story, and of course that means there is a lot more I could unintentionally get wrong. Also the fact that the subject matter is just different this time – there’s a lot more action taking place in Germania, away from Rome – means there’s less I know about, and more I want to familiarise myself with before I jump in.
There’s a bit of chicken and egg involved, to be honest. I’ve learnt from trial and error that I like to write novels from a reeeeeally detailed plan (like, every single scene mapped out, kind of detail) and I can’t really do that until I’ve researched all the things I want to do. Only I can’t really set the direction of research until I know exactly where the plot’s going to go…
You see the idea?
In reality, I’m going to spend time doing both, each informing the other, and from that, the meat of the story will emerge. Neither side is 100% perfect – for Legion That Was there were two huge sideplots in the outline that didn’t make it into the final product, and there’ll still be a lot of research I’ll have to do on the fly, between writing scenes. But it’ll work. I have faith.
Roll on the next eighteen months, I guess.
And before I leave you (only for a week this time, I’m serious guys, ha ha ha) I thought I’d just leave behind a little something I was emailed this week for you to look at:
Don’t ever say I don’t spoil you.
And if anyone reading this is also thinking about going down the self-publishing route, I cannot recommend Nik and the whole team at Book Beaver highly enough. Professional, warm, doing consistently accurate and swift work… I have little doubt I’ll be going to them for the other covers in the series.
Peace out, homies.