I've spent the weekend in Brussels to celebrate the wedding of two of my friends; it was a very busy and happy two days. Now I'm back, and as Monday is one of my writing days, I'm at last reflecting on the fact that the book is finished, and considering what this means. This is the first time in eight years that I've been a professional writer and not working on The Last Descendants. While I am supposed to feel a slight sense of vertigo at this prospect, it also feels like an opportunity. The series had begun to encompass so much as my writing interests developed that I have reached the natural point to begin something new. I've got several ideas floating around in my head, my writing notebook and on scraps of paper, so the next few weeks and months will be about experimenting, reading and writing as much as possible, and finding out which ideas drift away and which ones stick. What I do know is that my next book will probably end up being mostly realist, mostly for adults. This isn't a big departure from what The Last Descendants had become towards the end (see The Heart at War!), but it is, all the same, a departure. So I've got some thinking and reading to do before I begin.
But meanwhile, there are a few things that I'll be writing straight away:
- Firstly, I'm going to do something I haven't done in years and write a letter to my favourite writer, Derek Walcott. I mentioned on this blog in May that I was hoping to meet Walcott at an event in Newcastle. Unfortunately, ill health meant that he couldn't attend. Thinking about this afterwards, I reflected that the main reason I wanted to meet Walcott was simply to thank him for what his work has meant to me. So I've decided to attempt a letter instead.
- I'm also going to write more regular articles on this blog. I've been thinking about how I can share perspectives that might be helpful for other writers and readers, and I've decided that one way I could do this is by creating a blog series about how a manuscript becomes a book, while The Heart at War is going through the publishing process. It's a process that sometimes seemed closed and puzzling from the outside, and I'd like to do something to demystify it. More updates on this soon!
- And I'm also going to be writing in thanks to those people who have been essential to the series: my editors, publishers, foreign translators, cover designers, and others without whom the books simply would not exist. Of course, I'll be spending some time with friends and family and thanking them in person for all their support. As for my agent, Simon Trewin, someone who I'll never be able to thank properly for what he's done over the last eight years, I'll be travelling down to London as soon as possible to deliver his own copy of the manuscript in person and at least buy him a drink!
Thanks again for your support. I've been incredibly heartened in the six months since I stopped being a hermit and got a website/Facebook/Twitter by all the messages of support and encouragement I've received from readers. You're a remarkable group of people and I hope, either online or in person, that I can meet many more of you over the months to come. In the words of another poet, Flea of Red Hot Chili Peppers: I do this for you.