Looking back at my blogs posts, I see that it’s nearly two months since the last book #2 progress report. At that time, I’d written five chapters for the as yet untitled second book in the Wardens of the Black Heart trilogy. Time to provide an update on what’s been happening.
I’m pleased to report that I’ve had a productive few weeks in May. As of this week, I have the first draft of twelve whole chapters in the bag; at just over 30,000 words, that’s well over a third of the way in, and four or five more chapters will see me at the halfway mark. Regular readers may recall that I had a plan to edit and polish each chapter as I completed it, but the reality of the school year has made this noble aim impossible. My editor extraordinaire, youngest daughter Rachel, is up to her neck in exams and will be until the end of June. She’s not taking the easy option either – first year ‘A’ level studying Maths, Further Maths, Physics and Chemistry – so this means a ton of revision. It wouldn’t be fair to burden her with picking through my clumsily assembled narrative, and it makes far more sense to tackle this editing process over the summer.
In addition to the progress I have made in writing the chapters, I have also locked in about 90% of the plot, which is a major step forward. I wouldn’t want people to think that I am making all of this story up on the hoof – naturally, there is an element of letting the story go where flashes of inspiration take it – I have an end-point that I am aiming for, and further down the road, some key plot objectives that have to be set up for the final part of the trilogy. Still, it was nice to be able to jot down the main action that joins the story together and then organise this into a storyboard. One or two chapters aside, I know roughly what happens in every chapter until the end of the book. I know some writers like to use fancy software to help develop and record the plot but for me, it’s simple Windows Notepad all the way – I just have it open in the background and blast words into it, making notes on characters, main action set-pieces, who says what to who and any chapter order rearrangements that are necessary.
Amongst the many things that I’m proud of with Monkey Arkwright, what I like to call the rat-a-tat-tat of the closing chapters is one of my favourites. In that first book, I spent a lot of chapters setting up a narrative involving various characters, whose intentions were not always clear (or in other words, “putting all the balls up in the air” – bear with me on this; think of a juggler!). Then as the book hit the closing stretch, I combined a series of set pieces and revelations that, I hope, gave the reader a surprise, a revelation or a twist one after the other in quick succession (or in other words, “seeing how all the balls landed”). If I’m allowed to blow my own trumpet for a second, I’ll just say that I’m absolutely thrilled with the closing stretch that I’ve got planned in this second book. I’m looking forward to writing these chapters immensely and writing them when I get there sometime in the autumn/winter is a nice present that I’ve set up for myself.
The title of the second book is still undecided, but I’m glad that I didn’t say anything on this matter in the last report because the title I have in mind has now changed!
So, what’s this second book about then? I hear you ask. The story once again focusses on Monkey and Lorna as they become further embroiled in the machinations of the Wardens of the Black Heart. We pick up the story a few months after the end of the last book and one of the themes of book #2 is why is all of this strange stuff going on in a quiet little town like Culverton Beck? Most of the supporting cast is back from the first book and there’s a handful of new characters popping up in town to add to the mystery.
The biggest change for book #2 is the way that the story is presented. Around 80% of the book is told from Lorna’s perspective, but in order to widen the world a little, there are a few chapters written in the third person, as seen through the eyes of one of the other characters. Mixing first and third person feels like the right thing to do here, but when I’ve read books that do this, I often find it jarring to swap perspectives mid-chapter or even mid-paragraph. This won’t be happening in my story, and any changes of perspective will be clearly marked by a change of chapter.
When can you expect to get your hands on my new novel? Well, without trying to sound like I’m making excuses, I’d like to throw in a few caveats. Firstly, summer is upon us, which means holidays and a little event known as The World Cup! This, combined with the need to edit what I’ve written so far, will probably mean that the story advances no more than a handful of chapters over the summer. Secondly, like most indie writers, I have a full-time job, so if you’re happy to wait years for a full-time author to knock out a book, you’ll have to cut me some slack in the deadline department.
What I will say is this; I love writing in the autumn and winter and come the second week of September, I’ll be burning up those remaining chapters like an oil slick fire (to borrow a lyric from the great John Hiatt). The plan is to release book #2 sometime between March and May 2019.
In the meantime, thank you for your patience.