I promised a while ago that I would give you an update on the progress of The Broken Eye. Then, I broke that promise—by giving you an update early! But, this is epic fantasy, a genre fraught with fan-angst about whether your author is working on the next magnum opus or just tooling around the Caribbean, spending your reading bucks and releasing action figures to fund his or her lavish lifestyle.
So. Here’s another update: I have finished the first, second, third, and fourth drafts of The Broken Eye. Content edits are done. The book is out of my hands and into production. (We still have copy edits and one last look to go, so if you see me posting on social media about “edits” that’s what I mean.) The Broken Eye is slated to release on the week of August 26th in US/UK/AUS. (US releases are on Tuesdays, and if I recall correctly, UK releases are on Thursdays.)
I believe (and my editors and agent agree!) that The Broken Eye is my best work yet. It is also my longest. By far. I promised Orbit—contractually—that this book would be 155-160,000 words. I like to think that I’m good at a fair number of the many skills necessary to be a successful novelist, but one thing I’m apparently not so hot at is “estimating the length of a story.”
Me, two years ago: “Oh yeah, this book’ll be about 150 thousand words. But I might go a little long, so let’s say 155 or 160.”
Actual length: 306,000 words, not counting glossary or appendices.
Orbit has been gracious to me in that they are not splitting this book into two books. The length may, however, cause some problems with translations—different languages can add up to 30% to the word count.
Now, we like big books. (And we cannot lie. You other readers can’t deny, a book flops open with an itty-bitty font, and a map that’s in your face, you get—sorry! Sorry!) We all love a big book, but we’ve also all probably read the big book that goes nowhere. I hope you’ll agree that The Broken Eye isn’t THAT book. Despite how long the manuscript already was, when she first read the book two drafts ago, my editor’s first comments were that I needed to add more about X, Y, and Z.
What’s next for me? I’ll take a few days off. (Yeah, only a few. I get depressed if I’m away from writing for long.) Then I’ll work on The Way of Shadows graphic novel for a few days.
And then I’ll dive into the next Lightbringer book. When will that one come out? I don’t know. I will note that in the last ten years, I’ve written a book every two years… and while the time between books has remained the same, I’ve doubled the length of my books. And, I think it fair to say, I’ve added a level of polish and skill I didn’t possess before.
And yet still, you must wait. I know waiting sucks, so I’m doing all I can (hiring an assistant, working six days weeks, working while on vacation) to minimize your wait as much as possible without compromising the finished product. And that last clause is important. I have to live with these books forever. A few years from now, no one will care that it was two years between books rather than 18 months. They—and I!—will care if it’s not as good as it could have been. This tension of wanting to please fans and wanting to get it right is something every author has to negotiate for himself or herself.
I will continue to let you know how things are going every so often with update posts like this for the next book (probably titled The Blood Mirror). I’ll write my next writing update in April.
p.s. Anyone want to buy a few pallets of action figures? Yacht maintenance is expensive!
p.p.s. No, Dinkheisel. There are no action figures.
“So when’s the next book out, Weeks?”
When I was on my book tour a few months ago, I expressed my hope that the next book in The Lightbringer Series might, might be out in a year. (I was careful not to promise: I’ve learned from others’ mistakes!) So now, of course, with fans having patiently waited for five whole months (!) I’m getting more emails asking, “Hey, when can I further fund your lavish lavish lifestyle, O Master Weeks?”* (*actual quotes may bear no relation to reality)
Neil Gaiman might tell you that you haven’t any right to ask. I gave you a good story, o book buyer, so shut up.** (**Not an accurate paraphrase) But as I made the mistake of publicly disagreeing with an SFF icon, it seems to me I should put up or shut up. So here’s the word in brief: No New Lightbringer Book from Weeks in 2013.
For those of you who want to know a bit of the why, continue reading.
You epic fantasy fans may be familiar with Tolkien’s quote that “the story grew in the telling.” So it’s been with The Lightbringer Series. I’d planned for book 3 to be a bit shorter. (By which I mean 600+ pages, about the length of The Way of Shadows and Shadow’s Edge–not short books.) I’m a fairly consistent daily producer of pages, and if I’d made this book as long as I’d planned it to be, it would indeed have been published late this year. But… it’s longer. It’s longer than The Way of Shadows. It’s longer than Shadow’s Edge. It’s now longer than Beyond the Shadows. It will likely be longer than The Black Prism.
The work? It’s going well. I’m really pleased with the progress of this one. Where I was proud of The Blinding Knife because the story flew–high tension to high tension to surprise, with the world expanding and characters deepening all over the place–in this next book I’ve chosen to deepen the resonance while keeping a breakneck pace and not adding any fluff. (Title still to be determined. I’ve been calling it The Blood Mirror just to call it something, but that works better as a title for book 4, and my editor hasn’t liked any alternative titles I’ve proposed yet. Nor, to be honest, have I.)
It’s been my philosophy to write the best books I can, as fast as I can. To be honest, where I am in my career, I could make the most money by cranking out books faster.
But I’m making a living writing–that is my wildest dream, and you fans have given that to me. I have no interest in “cranking out books” to put as much of your money in my pocket as possible. I believe I owe my fans and myself the best stories I have it in me to tell. In this case, that means some more waiting for all of us. I’ve had long talks with my agent and editor about this, and they are both successful enough and wise enough that they’ve told me to get it right, to have fun with it, and to make it the best book it can be.
The writing is going brilliantly. I haven’t been stuck once. (Well, not for more than a day or so.) Yesterday, I finished a scene I think will stick with you, maybe forever. There are loose ends to be tied. There are hints to add about the series resolution. There’s a finale to write. I’m productive, having fun, and writing as well or better than I’ve ever written in my life.
I understand if that isn’t happening fast enough for you. I simply hope that when I give you the final product, it will more than make up for the wait.
You can expect another longish update on or before September 2013.