My normal starting point is one of distraction. There’s so much going on, if not in the world then in my brain. I’m thinking about different jobs I should apply for, different books I should read and different books I should write. There’s the constant task of upskilling for jobs I don’t even know I want, the temptation to write a new book or learn a new song on my guitar. Actually, maybe I’ll just learn a completely new instrument? Wahey.
So I hope you’ll appreciate how good I’ve been recently when I say I’ve stuck to the plan. What plan? The plan not to go near the second Diary of the Wolf book until the first has made it to print. It was hard, because it’s easy to ignore the boring task of laying out a novel, but it was done.
The good news: the path is now clear for work on book two – “Shadows in the Dark”
Despite what you might imagine, a second novel feels harder than the first. At least it does now that book one is out in the wild. Perhaps “harder” is the wrong word because they’re very different. The first novel is the unknown. You have no idea how hard a novel is to write until you’ve written it. Even then you can fool yourself, like I did when I originally released Diary of the Wolf, only to spend a year revising it.
Book two is the difficult second album. You have to remember what people liked from the first book while also growing and improving. It’s not a clean slate this time, you have to keep the first book in mind constantly. If book 2’s hero does something that he wouldn’t have in book 1, well there’s got to be a good reason for it.
Then there’s feedback to take on board, if you so choose. I was careful to give book one out to a lot of test readers at different points, but that doesn’t give you a true flavour of how the book will behave out in the wild. Feedback is always good to get, but you have to take it with a pinch of salt because not everyone has to fill out a big form when they read your book. Some opinions might be louder than others, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re more worthy of consideration.
So where am I at with book two? Well, the first draft is written (and has been written for a year or two) but it’s a lot further away from end game than my recent adventure re-writing book one. I know what’s going to happen in the book, the next four books are already largely planned out, so it’s more a case of putting the jigsaw pieces together to form the most beautiful picture possible.
A majorly tricky part of the pending process is integrating new ideas in to the story. That’s the problem (or advantage) of leaving a book to rest for a year or two, it’s incubating and plucking strings in your mind at random points in your life. For example, I’m writing in a journalist character. Why, well, after two years working for Ireland’s largest newspaper, the inspiration was just too rich to ignore. Plus with the insight in to how crimes etc. are reported, it felt a bit stupid to have a werewolf roaming Dublin and nobody picking up on it. That’s just one example.
It’s hard to go in to too much detail without spoiling the book for anyone, but Shadows in the Dark is less about transitioning and more about engaging with the world of the paranormal. There will be vampires, oh yes. It also brings in a full spectrum of emotions which is hard to engage with in parts.
When you’re first writing a joyous or sad scene, you’re living it, you’re in the moment. Trying to go back and capture that same emotion while also keeping the rest of the book in mind, well that’s just hugely tricky. You have to be in the write frame of mind while also trying to remember what you were initially trying to achieve.
Look at your past self and wonder “did you have a grand plan in this paragraph, or were you just getting the story to move forward?” When you have the luxury of time, you can indulge more in over-arcing themes and such, but sometimes they conflict with the vibe you developed when you first wrote the book.
So, what am I trying to say here? Well, I guess I’m simply procrastinating before launching in to a rewrite of Shadows in the Dark. Wish me well.
P.S. – The underlying good news is the print version of Diary of the Wolf will be available in January at the latest. Yay!