In August, I was immersed in the process of finishing my new book. At the end of the month I completed the first draft, and put it away to cool off for a while. I'm very excited about this new project. As I've mentioned before, it's different to anything I've written, and a book that I've found myself becoming incredibly invested in over the year and a half that I've been working on it. A novel that spans 95 years of European history, it tells the story of a family and the events they witness from 1914 until the dawn of the financial crisis. I'm sure this project is something I will have lots more to say about over the coming months, and I'm looking forward to sharing more details.
In September, I took a few days off, then started the very final edits on The Heart at War. My two editors, Janice and Amy, have done a superb job of going through the manuscript with intelligence and amazing insight, and I'm very pleased with the final version that I've ended up with as a result of their suggestions. There weren't many structural changes, but plenty of little details to be tightened up, cuts on the one hand and development on the other, and a few hilarious blunders on my part that I was grateful to have pointed out to me (why does every manuscript I write seem to have weeks with two Saturdays, no matter how carefully I plot?). I'll write more about editing for my next blog - it's such an interesting and crucial creative process, and one worth illuminating, I think.
By October, I'd reread the manuscript of my new book with the benefit of hindsight, and so had my agent. At the start of the month I went down to London to discuss it with him. Good news - he's also very excited about the project and felt that I'd achieved what I set out to do with this book, which was exactly what I'd hoped for. I came back with plenty of ideas, and spent a couple of weeks immersed in a new draft, preparing the book to send out to publishers. That draft is what I finished this week. It's always weird when a book that you've worked on, often intensely, for a period of months or years, stops being only yours and goes out into the world to seek its fortune, and I definitely have a sense of that happening with Book 4 now.
But while I've been working on the new book, The Heart at War has made exciting progress of its own, moving from editing to production within my publisher, Random House, which means we're one big step closer to having a finished copy. My publishers are working on cover designs at the moment and the copy-editor is finishing her line-editing - I hope we'll soon have a publication date. Until then, thank you so much for your support for both these projects. Receiving emails and messages from readers waiting for The Heart at War has been an incredible boost as I've been putting the finishing touches on the edits - I'm really excited to share more news with you soon.