… Is also the sound of me tapping away in a dark corner of Sheffield."
Yes, the time has come again when I put fingers to keyboard (which doesn't really have the same ring as "put pen to paper", but cest la vie) and I become a recluse, socially, mentally, physically and electronically. Last week I commenced work on the third Secret War novel, after two false starts with my previous publisher last year.
As of this blog entry I've written 15,000 words on The Traitor of Light - good words, words that I'm happy with and words I won't have to change much come the 2nd draft, which is unusual for me. The first chapters of a new book are always the hardest, but surprisingly in light of the content and circumstances (being a parent gets no easier even after 12 months) these have been relatively easy chapters to write.
And they shouldn’t be because I’ve set myself a monumental task: how do you make a main character that eats human hearts for a living, sympathetic?
It's a challenge that's compounded by another factor: there is not one recognisable character from the first two books in the first 45,000 words of Traitor of Light. We're introduced to several completely new characters in a completely new setting, and only five chapters in will you, as readers, suddenly make the connection between this book and the other two books in the Secret War series.
But from that point on it will be like staring down the steep drop of the rollercoaster - and if I do my job well enough, you'll be screaming all the way.
The Traitor of Light will be a challenge. It was meant to be, as I've said before. It isn't a safe book and I could fuck this up easily if I'm not careful. But so far I have been careful. Careful to build sympathetic characters out of monsters; careful to shed blood, but not too much; careful to keep you guessing until the reveal in Chapter 5 (and what a reveal it is!). This first part of the book - the part set during the fall of the Aztec Empire - is going to be the hardest thing I've ever written.
Yet at the moment, it doesn't feel that way…
…I hope that's a good sign.