Yes, book three is done. Well, the first draft anyway. Hurrah -- HarperCollins won't have to break my knees after all! Finished it today in the car park round the back of my wife's work, sitting in the car, in the rain. Perfect setting for the last scene too, after being up till two this morning finishing off the last of the line edits. Two in the morning... groan...
You want a preview? Well, the first word is 'SEX' and the last one is 'blood'. And there are one hundred and fifty three thousand, five hundred and eighty nine words in-between.
Yup, you heard right: the thing comes in at 153,591 handcrafted words of organically-reared, free-range goodness. It sounds like a lot, but I'll probably be in with a chainsaw when I go into my usual editing frenzy. Yes, my editors work with scalpels and lasers, I use dynamite. The version of DYING LIGHT that got printed is 30,000 words smaller than the first draft, and all because I went mental with the red pen. 30,000 -- that's about half the size of your average novel -- and I threw all those lovely words on the cutting room floor, then urinated on them. And set fire to them (which wasn't easy as they were all soggy with pee and made a terrible smell: we had to have the windows open for weeks afterwards) and buried the ashes in the bumhole of a startled-looking badger. At least he looked pretty startled by the time we'd finished.
Maybe I should have a sweepy for this book? Closest person to the final word count wins something cheesy (not a sausage though, they can be devils to post and are likely to be small green and wizened by the time they arrive)? What do you think?
I thought Book Three was going to be shorter, but the story just took that many words to tell. On the first draft anyway. Which I think is bloody weird -- how come the voices in my head can't remember how to programme the VCR, but they can make up just enough stuff to bring the book in at contractual length? How? Madness I tells ya, MADNESS! It's not like at any point I've sat down and said, "Well, this bit will take about 20K, and that bit will take 60K, so if I add in another subplot... oh, call it 15K and then..."
Anyway, the next three are supposed to be 120K each, so it'll be interesting to see if 150K is just my natural story length, or of those naughty voices will shift gears and go for that instead.
But for now the book is done. I shall send it off to Agent Phil (have sideburns, will boogie) and JamesO tonight*, and send it on to the lovely, but scary spoon-wielding, ladies of HarperCollins on Monday. Exactly two weeks late. Bad write-ist, naughty!
Tonight it's celebrations: fizzy wine, kitchen dancing, and something special for tea. And tomorrow I get to dig the tattie patch in the pouring rain. Lucky me!
* I should point out that I'm not expecting either of these fine fellows to read and comment on the story by Monday, that's just the way these thing are supposed to work. Normally I'd wait to hear back from them before submitting the book to HC, but needs must when you're over your deadline and all that.