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Friday, September 19, 2014

GUEST POST: Known Things by Edward Cox

A certain kind of vindication, a validation, comes with signing a book deal. Someone like Gollancz doesn’t buy your novel unless they believe it is good enough to publish. Knowing this will patch up the shaky confidence of any writer, at least for a time. However, writing a novel good enough for Gollancz is only the beginning, because when you’ve signed up for a trilogy, you sort of have to do it again.

There’s a big difference between knowing a thing and experiencing it. I’ve often learned this the hard way, and it’s one of the themes of The Relic Guild, a book that took me two and half years to write. Actually, no – it took me two and a half years to finish. Other stories were written during that time, I took breaks from writing altogether, and when I did work it was at a leisurely, relaxed pace. In fact, writing The Relic Guild was no more stressful than deciding which sort of cake I would eat with my cup of tea, primarily because there was no deadline.

Dead. Line. Sounds sinister, doesn’t it?

I always knew that getting a book deal would mean that any sequels had to be written to a deadline, but I’m not sure anything can prepare an author for how it will affect them when it happens. Signing that contract carries a responsibility, which I understood straight away, and was ready to shoulder. There was a whole year and a quarter to go before deadline, and that was plenty of time to get book two written. No worries! You should have seen how carefree and confident I was at the beginning. I only wish that I had a before and after picture to show you.

For the record, I should say that book two of The Relic Guild was mostly a joy to write. It continued the story as I wanted it to; all the seeds I’d sown grew into sturdy plot threads; there were twists and surprises along the way, and much more meat on the bones of my material than I realised there would be. But what I hadn’t factored in to my process was how much benefit I gained from all that time I’d spent not writing book one. As a lot of writers will tell you, it’s important to occasionally step away from a work in progress, as it freshens the eyes and clears the mind. Not so for me. Not this time. And so a doubt blossomed at the back of my mind: I was about to learn the hard way again.

The mistake I made was believing that I’d used a quantifiable process with writing The Relic Guild, which could be used again with the sequel. Two and a half years it took me to finish the first book, but I reasoned that if you removed all the time I had spent not writing it, that would mean the novel had been completed in only one year. Therefore, with a whole year and a quarter to finish book two, the maths was looking very much in my favour. This is fine in theory, but in practice? I discovered that writers can be masters of creating their own stress.

Book two of The Relic Guild was also a nightmare to write. I mean that literally. I had bad dreams about it. Especially during the last two months when I had to cut 20,000 words, realised it was 15,000 words longer than book one, and had to give the final quarter such an extensive rewrite that I worked days and nights and weekends, only breaking to eat and sleep, for eight weeks solid.

Imagine the wild-haired writer, tearing up sheets of paper as he ignores his family, bemoaning his blocked genius, destined to be misunderstood, and blah, blah, and so on and so forth, and all the other ridiculous dramas of the creative dreamer that should gain not one jot of sympathy from anyone on this planet. I pretty much played them all out during those last two months, and I worked on that manuscript until the very last second ticked down to deadline.

Dead. Line.

There really is a big difference between thinking you know a thing and experiencing it for real. I’m trying very hard to remember this as I head in to write the third and final part of The Relic Guild trilogy. I’m hoping I’m a little wiser now, but that small doubt remains at the back of my mind. I imagine that it sounds like Han Solo telling Luke Skywalker not to be cocky, and maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe it’ll keep me on my toes this time, and learning the hard way won’t always be my forte.

Official Author Website
Order the book HERE

AUTHOR INFORMATION: Edward Cox began writing stories at school as a way to pass time in boring lessons. With his first short story published in 2000, Edward spent much of the next decade earning a BA 1st class with honours in creative writing, and a Master degree in the same subject. He then went on to teach creative writing at the University of Bedfordshire.

Currently living in Essex with his wife and daughter, Edward is mostly surrounded by fine greenery and spiders the size of his hand. The Relic Guild is his first completed novel, and it is the result of more than ten years of obsessive writing.

 This is part of Ed's Blog tour and my thanks to Sophie Calder for giving us the chance to participate. The readers can check out the rest of his stops:

15th September: (1) Interview over at Geek Planet Online
                                    (2) Guest post over at Falcata Times

16th September: (1) Interview over at Book Plank
                                    (2) Guest post over at Sci-Fi London

17th September: (1) Audio book clip over at Cult Den
                                    (2) Guest post over at Reader Dad

18th September: (1) Guest post over at Wonderous Reads
                                    (2) Interview with Alasdair Stuart

19th September: (1) Audio book clip over at Geek Native
                                    (2) FBC guest post

20th September: (1) Interview over at Fantasy Book Review
                                     (2) Guest post over at Civilian Reader

NOTE: All pictures courtesy of the author.


Simon said...

Why is the Kindle version not available in the USA?

Pauldavidpope said...

Great Post by the Edward cox, it is very good post for inspiring some one

Zen said...

This is a great post with some interesting insight into creating another entry in a series. I never really thought about how it would feel to create an entire novel on a deadline. It seems daunting to say the least, just knowing that the hard line is there, ticking closer day after day. Definitely food for thought!


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