Having delivered Crossways, due for publication in August, I’ve stepped sideways straight into the edits for Winterwood, my third book – and a very different one from the first two space operas.
Set in an alternate 1800 with magic, Winterwood is a historical fantasy with a cross-dressing privateer captain, the jealous ghost of her dead husband, a sexy wolf shapechanger (though you mustn’t call him a werewolf or he gets very indignant) and a boat-load of barely reformed pirates. Ross (Rossalinde) Tremayne has to solve a puzzle when she inherits a box made of ensorcelled winterwood. She must open the box (if she can) to set right an ancient wrong and that means finding family she didn’t know she had while running from an implacable enemy who almost seems to have followed the box through time.
I began writing this book in 2007, when it was provisionally called: The Elf-Oak Box. I finished it in 2008 and found an agent for it in 2010. Aforementioned agent worked on it with me and eventually declared it good enough to send out… and a few months later got out of agenting. I sent the manuscript to DAW following a kind introduction by one of their writers and to cut a long story short, sold it to them in July 2013 as part of a three book deal negotiated by my new agent, Amy Boggs of Donald Maass in New York.
My lovely editor, Sheila Gilbert, asked that question that all writers with a new book sale want to hear: What else have you got? I had a space opera already completed and my editor liked it well enough to buy it and order a sequel. DAW publishes both science fiction and fantasy, but it just so happened that there was a vacant slot in the schedule in late 2014 for science fiction, so it was decided that Empire of Dust, and the sequel Crossways (which had to be written from scratch) would be the first two of mine to be published, in November 2014 and August 2015, and that the historical fantasy, retitled ‘Winterwood’ would come out third, in February 2016.
So with all the work on the space operas, I’ve only just come back to Winterwood after a gap of two years. And the verdict is?
I’m pleased to say that I’m actually enjoying reading it as a reader, because I’ve achieved enough distance so that it no longer feels quite like mine. In fact, I’ve forgotten some of the finer details and in some cases I’m thinking: Gosh did I write that? It’s actually exciting.
Of course, as I re-familiarise myself with it, it’s all coming back to me and I’m taking possession of it again as a writer, spotting odd bits of clunky prose here and there and spotting the places where I need to add in a few things to satisfy my editor, who pointed out a few places where I had a logic blip, or missed out a vital explanation.
Altogether, though, it’s not such a big edit as I feared it might be, which is a good job because, though the publication date isn’t until February 2016, my delivery deadline for the fully edited manuscript is August 2015.
It’s also quite nice to write a shorter book. Both of the space operas are 171,000 and 173,000 words respectively, but Winterwood will be a neat 120,000 words at most. My editor has already asked me to provide descriptions of characters to pass on to the cover artist, and I’ve been asked what kind of cover I might like. It’s not my final decision, of course, but my editor picked out a fabulous SF cover artist for the space operas in Stefan Martiniere, so I’m looking forward to seeing who she picks for Winterwood.
So… onwards and upwards.