So, last year I finished The Departure, second book of my last three-book contract with Macmillan and at the time due to be published this year. I immediately got on with the last book of the contract, which then had the provisional title Gabbleducks, and polished off quite a lot of it. Once I was back here in Britain, Julie Crisp (senior commissioning editor for Tor UK) told me she really liked The Departure and, since it was the first book of a new series (The Owner series), she would like to publish that series consecutively. This was a break from my usual habit of books from a series alternated with something else i.e. the order of publication from the start with Macmillan has been: Gridlinked, The Skinner, The Line of Polity, Cowl, Brass Man, The Voyage of the Sable Keech, Polity Agent, Hilldiggers, Line War, with Prador Moon, Shadow of the Scorpion and The Gabble coming in through a route separate to my main contracts. I said okay, let's give it a try.
This now meant that I had to get Gabbleducks ready for publication this year, which I've done. It transformed somewhat in the telling and has now turned into The Technician. Julie now has that book and I'm chewing my fingernails waiting for a response on it. But this also means I've hit a bit of a hiatus. I am, effectively, a year ahead of schedule, so what do I do now?
Here are the choices I've considered: I could begin the next book in The Owner series, I could produce some short stories, I could pull that fantasy trilogy out of my files and start work on that, or I could set to work on writing a book about mine and Caroline's adventures in Crete - based on my journal entries - for which I already have the title: Cicada Scream.
I recently got an email from Jeremy Lassen at Night Shade Books in which he wondered if I might consider having a crack at something else for them: a new series, maybe a fantasy - something different to help me penetrate the American market. The fantasy, which I've always wanted to rework but have never got round to, falls into that category. So, if I set to work on that I've got a target market, though frankly I wouldn't expect difficulties selling it elsewhere.
So, right now I'm typing into my computer all my Crete journal entries in preparation for writing Cicada Scream. This will be a project I'll work on with no finish date in mind. This evening I'll print up the first book of the fantasy, The Staff of Sorrows, read it through and begin working on it with a pencil. More needs to be done than tidying up the English. The whole thing needs to lose its hackneyed fantasy clothing and there's some big structural changes that need to be made too.
These I'll work on until the time comes for me to edit The Technician. After that I'm not sure how I'll proceed, just a case of wait and see.
You see, I can make plans.