2021 in Review

Well. It’s certainly been a year. I’m not sure I can say anything about the global state of affairs that hasn’t been said by others a hundred times over already, so I’ll stick with the personal side of things.

Bookselling: I had two books come out this year! The mass market paperback edition of Stormblood dropped in early January and the trade paperback edition of Blindspace came out last month in November. Not exactly the best times to be releasing books, but then I’m not sure what is the best time to be releasing a book. All in all, they’ve been doing relatively well. Stormblood especially continues to track on, gaining readers and reviewers from all around the globe (a joy I hope never gets old) as more people become fully corrupted by my savage little world. It boggles the mind to think that something I wrote in my free-time in a little beachside cafe would be read by anyone at all, let alone to the extent that it has.

The big deal, of course, is the release of Blindspace. My first ever sequel, first ever book written under contract, et cetera. I’m immensely proud of it and I’m delighted to have it out in the big wide world at last. I had a fabulous book launch here in Sydney, co-hosted by the wonderful and generous Garth Nix, which was huge fun. Unlike the writing of the book itself. Which brings us to…

Bookwriting: Blindspace was the hardest thing I’ve ever written. At least 2/3s of the first draft was gutted and rewritten. The majority of that was done during 2020. 2021 was kinder to me, as I spent the majority of the year doing more focused edits, refining character arcs, strengthening each scene, tightening the battles and sharpening the world-building. That’s the part of the process I enjoy the most, I find, and bringing Blindspace up to a level of quality I was happy with was, for the most part, hugely enjoyable.

Otherwise, I started work on the third, and final (?) book in The Common trilogy earlier this year. I’ve got about 120k down, of which maybe 80k is actually useable. I know the big arcs, the overall story structure, and where things are going to end up. It’s the bits inbetween that are more hazy, but I’m going to figure it out as I go along. The process has been challenging thus far, but noticeably less so than Book 2.

Otherwise, I’ve written a couple of stories for a few anthologies, which is always fun. It gets me out of my own little world with the opportunity to play around in another for a while. I don’t really write or submit short fiction cold anymore, but if I’m asked to contribute to an anthology or interesting project I’m always already to jump in and deliver some bite-sized fiction.

Some of the aforementioned stories have already been released, some have not. Watch this space.

Which brings us to…

The Year Ahead: I’ll be ploughing ahead with Book 3 for the majority of the year. The plan is to get a first draft down, focusing on story and character. This draft will run as long as it needs to be (likely in the ballpark of 220-250k) and then to go back and fill in all the blanks, retreating the next pass as a sort of rewrite. Sometimes I need to get the skeleton down on the page before adding all the meat, so I can see what needs to go where and what needs some serious revising. It’ll all be big-picture stuff; structure and plot and story arcs. Once that’s nailed down, I’ll be chopping out the rest of the ugly clay, wilting the book down to a more sizeable 200k or so, before focusing on individual scenes.

Otherwise: The print-version of Stormblood will be published in the US/Canada in January 2022, with Blindspace published in Canada in March, and in the US towards the end of the year. They’re all already up for pre-order, so you’re more than welcome to grab ’em in advance. It’ll be fantastic to finally have a bookstore presence in the US and Canada, especially as there’re readers across the pond who are desperate to get their paws on a physical copy. So I’m very much looking forward to that. But my primary focus will be chipping away at Book 3, getting all those words down on the page so I can then get them in the right order.

Have a good one, and stay safe, wherever you all are.

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