Okay. I’ve got you reading this post under false pretences. This is not an announcement about my next novel. Except it is. Sort of.
The thing is, having got some way into the manuscript for the sequel to Talus and the Frozen King, I find myself facing a dilemma. I’ve made a decent start – and I’m excited about where the story is going – but I’ve begun to believe I may have more on my plate than I’d first imagined. And that’s thrown me for a loop.
The first Talus book tells a simple story about a neolithic bard with a penchant for solving crimes … in an era where the word “crime” hasn’t even been invented yet. Beneath the crime genre tropes, however, lurks a larger narrative: a quest by two mismatched friends to find the legendary place where the northlight (that’s the aurora borealis to you and me) actually touches down on solid ground. Call it the end of the rainbow if you like.
Here’s the thing. The deeper I get into book two, the more seduced I’ve become by this quest thing. It haunts me, as do the many questions it raises. Do I know the answers to those questions? Some. For example, I can tell you now that Talus and his faithful companion Bran will indeed reach their fabled destination. I can also tell you that I know exactly what they’re going to find there – I have from the start. What’s confused me is that, while it will take me two more books to tell that story, I’ve suddenly realised that I know what happens after that. And, to some small degree, what happens after that. And, equally suddenly, I find myself knowing where this whole damn thing ends. The only trouble is, it will take me seven or eight or maybe even ten books to get there. That’s good. It’s also bad.
Good, because I may have something special on my hands. Bad, because I’ve been here before, convincing myself that one small story is capable of growing into something monumental. Bad too because, all the time this overarching narrative is growing in my head like Topsy, the poor little book I’m supposed to be working on (which has a working title of Talus and the Sacred Spear by the way) is getting hobbled.
So what am I going to do about it? Well, I could continue doggedly with the manuscript, concentrating on the here and now, on this story alone. There’s a strong argument to say that’s the right course of action. Alternatively, I could press pause and focus my attention for a while on the bigger picture. Plan and plot. Go widescreen. But do I want to climb a mountain as big as the one that’s in my head? Am I even capable of it? I don’t know. And I don’t know.
Why am I telling you all this? Well, as you’ve probably guessed, I’m not. I’m telling myself. “Dear diary,” and all that. It just so happens this particular diary is a public one. But that’s okay. I’m among friends, right?
As for which way I’m going to jump, I can’t tell you that. Not yet. But I can tell you this: as soon as I decide, you’ll be the first to know.