I know! It surprises me as much as anyone, but I thought I’d take a break from ranting (where would you begin at the moment?) and do an update on writing-related news, especially as that is ostensibly what the site is for.
I’m up for two awards, which is really nice. The first is the Dagger in the Library. I’m longlisted for that, and you can see the full list here. It’s a nice award, as it’s for a body of work rather than a specific novel, and while I’ve never thought of myself as having a body of work, I suppose it’s getting to the point where I do. The shortlist will be announced at CrimeFest later this month, more on which shortly. Now, in fact, because the second award I’m up for is the eDunnit award, and the actual winner will be announced at CrimeFest too. The full shortlist is available here.
In both cases, I’m really pleased (obviously). I tend to think the most important thing about an award is its shortlist, and in both cases I’m amongst stellar company. (I know the Dagger is a longlist, but even so). In the case of the eDunnit award, I look not only at the shortlist itself, but the submitted books that didn’t make it, and feel amazingly lucky.
Speaking of CrimeFest, I’ll be there, moderating two panels, on the 26th and 27th May. The full programme is up here. Leaving me entirely out of it, I think it’s the best line-up they’ve ever had, and I’m really looking forward to it. Both of those things are also true with regard to the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate in July. The full programme is now online here, and it’s very exciting. I’m doing a panel on ebooks on the Friday afternoon. In the case of both festivals, I’ll be around for the whole thing, so if you see me, say hi. If you want to, I mean…
Actual writing news: I’ve now finished the proof pages of Dark Room, which should hopefully be out in time for Harrogate. As is usually the case at this stage, I have no real idea how I feel about it. By this point, I’ve read the thing so many times that all I see are the mistakes and sections I’m less happy with, but that’s par for the course and nothing to worry about in itself. Initial feedback from people with a fresh eye on the material has been good, and overall I’m fairly happy – I think – with the way it turned out. Time will tell.
In the meantime, I’m working on the next one – Book Eight! You see: body of work! – which is provisionally titled Hell. It’s slow-going. My approach has been the same as with Dark Room: initial planning; three months for the first draft (average 1k words a day and you’re there); another three months to write the book again properly. I’m one month into the first draft and have about 25k, but it’s rough and not really working. I’m not feeling it. But as with the proofs, this is fairly normal. One on the benefits of this approach is I treat the first draft basically as an extended planning session, and it’s usually only when that’s done that I figure out what the book should actually be. So I’m not worried. I’ll just press on, writing the bits that interest me, looking for hooks and ideas, fleshing out the characters or seeing how they flesh themselves out, and so on. It’s a little like assembling rough, on-the-hoof footage of an idea with your mates before you develop a full script with stage directions and get the right actors to serve it. Or something. Something like that.