So at a rough count I'm 50k into Moon's Artifice, and to celebrate that fact I've got a contract for it covered with my notes to plague my agent with (I take comfort in knowing I'm not the only author who's like this, the esteemed Anna Davis is even more of a contracts nerd than I am).
However, that's not what's occupying my mind more is the book itself and yet another reminder why many authors pick a world and stick with it – either continuing a series ad nauseum or just whatever. For my sins, or just stupidity, I don't want to stick with just that, but given I've had good sales of the Twilight Reign this is more of a risk than it has any right to be.
Firstly there's no certainty people who've read previous books will even pick Moon's Artifice up. It doesn't have the characters they care about, it isn't as big an epic – either in size or scale, being set all in one city – and probably a few other things that some readers are looking for. Hopefully it will still read like a Tom Lloyd book to everyone and none of that will matter, instead attracting hordes of new fans who'll scatter discarded Joe Abercrombie merchandise in their wake… or something like that anyway.
But the other problem is this – it's hard work! Now I'm never one for effort in pretty much any field if I can help it, but this is taxing my brain a bit. Not that it's hyper-complex, because it isn't, but it's simply different. I'm enjoying the change for sure – I needed six months off almost between Ragged Man and Dusk Watchman because I'd just plotted both books and hammered out over 200k words and my brain could take anything more from the series for a while. This I've jumped straight into, but it is a difficult second novel still.
Turns out, there are advantages to having to write two difficult second novels. The Twilight Herald was technically my second and I still had a lot to learn (had?!) but it was cushioned by the fact I was establishing the world and building on The Stormcaller's foundation. This time round I don't have that foundation but I do know a hell of a lot more about putting sentences and scenes together, ie something. So while I suddenly find myself having to write something entirely new after ten years of building a Twilight Reign style, I'm not so anxious about each scene I write because even if it doesn't feel good yet, my ability to punch it up later has improved, as has the starting material.
Still scary though, change is. I keep telling my lazy nature that it'll be good for me, that I'll grow as a person or something, but in my head I've already committed to doing it again in the future and it's probably best there's no debate on the subject. When we do agree the wording in this contract, I'll be signed up for two novels. There's a third idea that could naturally fit with it, and a couple more ideas that also go with the characters/world. At some point after that I'll be ready to jump into a far more complicated mulit-world trilogy.
Just as well I'm practicing this difficult second novel thing now, I suspect I'll have a third at least before I'm through.