Friday, 22 March 2013

BOOK 2: Update


Three years ago today, at 9:12am, I sat down with a fresh notebook and started the follow-up to The Afrika Reich. I already had the overarching plot of both Books 2 and 3 but this was the beginning of the detailed work: the official start date.

Publishers like ‘product’, something they can release on a regular basis. My initial contract stipulated I submit the second book in 9 months. That was too fast for me so I asked for it to be extended to 15. My schedule was to be this: 3 months to plan the sequel, 9 to write it, a final 3 to edit. Clearly I have missed this deadline! Even 15 months meant I would have to work more briskly than I’m used to. As readers of this blog will know my preference is to spend 9-12 months preparing a book, then a year to write it. Nevertheless, with an advance to earn out I felt obliged to deliver the book faster than I would have liked. That need for speed ultimately slowed me down.

I never had enough time to plan the book – which meant I started the writing not knowing where I was going. Some writers thrive on this type of spontaneity; I am not one of them. I prefer to have as much as possible pre-planned before I begin. A good analogy would be making a trip from London to Land’s End. My preference would be to work out a detailed route before starting, then having an easy journey. Instead I’ve set out with a notion I needed to travel along the A30, then continue south-west... and not much more. I got lost. Of course, once you’re lost you can get even more lost trying to find your way back to the correct route.

Another difference from the first book is that I did a lot of research up front. This overburdened me with detail. I have a lot of fabulous material but for a while I was bending the narrative to include it, rather than focusing on the plot and using research/details merely to gild the action.

The above is not the only reason for my delay. The last three years have been cruel: punctuated with death and chronic illness. This has not only played havoc with my writing schedule (my literal ability to sit at a desk and concentrate) it has also changed me as a person, made me more aware of the fragility of life. Given the abundance of death in my imagined Nazi Africa, this has impacted on the writing.


The upshot of all this is that I wrote 250 000 words of an initial version of Book 2 before concluding it was a mess. That was my staring-into-the-abyss moment. I recently saw From the Sky Down and there was a line in it that perfectly expresses how I felt at this juncture: ‘You have to reject one expression of yourself first before you get to the next expression. In between you have nothing’.

So I made the decision to put aside what I had written, plan more assiduously and start afresh. Since then things have been easier.

Although the plot of this new version is similar to its earlier incarnation, it has been pieced together differently. Imagine a constellation: the stars are in the same place but the lines linking them have altered drastically. Those expecting a re-hash of the first book may be disappointed. Book 2 is less frenetic than the original, darker, more political and character driven with some truly unexpected scenes... though still with a generous dollop of action and intrigue! I hope it will prove to be the better novel.

I intend to submit the first half to my editor in the coming weeks. Assuming he approves, and I suffer no more calamities, I hope to have the book finished by the end of the year, with a publication date in 2014. 

51 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Heikki – thanks for your comment, will try to keep up the good work!

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  2. The best books are always worth the wait. For more from you, we'll wait.

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    1. Carlie – very kind words: thank you. I just hope the wait will be worth it.

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  3. I'm sure the results will be worth our wait. What life has dealt these past three years cannot help but inform your writing. My bet is that it will have given it new depth and the sort of truth that only makes the work better. Thanks for the update.

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    1. Alan – thanks for you comment and kind words. I have certainly woven a lot of my experiences of the past few years into the book, and I’m hoping that will give it new depths.

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  4. There's always going to be obstacles in the way of writing - if anything, it's good to hear you've taken the task seriously enough to do it properly.

    I look forward to reading the sequel!

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    1. Noonebut – thanks for your comment. Glad to know you’re looking forward to the sequel; I hope it won’t disappoint.

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  5. Nothing worth having comes easily. But when we trust it's on its way and we know it'll be worth the wait, the time doesn't matter. Sounds as if you're giving it your all, despite everything. With the occasional glimpse of what Book 2 will be, we'll have enough to keep us going until it is!

    Here's to 2014!

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    1. Anon – yes, I am giving it my all! I hope the little snippets on this blog are some consolation that the book isn’t finished yet. I’ll be posting another update on it in the coming months.

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  6. GUy -

    I've not checked your blog for some time as I've been having 'cruelties' of my own. All I can say is that you obviously have a loyal following, myself included, and although we're keen for your next book we'll also happily wait. I know it will be worth it. I'm sure you'll feel the same the first time you hold the finished book in your hands.

    Thanks again for being so honest with your feelings. In an age of trivial blogs and celebrity pap, your blog is consistently refreshing.

    Best wishes

    Ron

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  7. Guy -

    Just tried posting a comment but with the terrible weather my internet connection isn't the best at the moment and it disappeared. Trying again but apologies if this comes through twice. Now, what was I saying?

    I've not had the chance to read your blog recently as I've been having 'cruelties' of my own. However, I wanted to say that you obviously have a very loyal following, myself included, and although we're keen for the follow up we'll also happy to wait for it. The most important thing is you get it right. I'm sure when you finally have the finished book in your hand you'd be very proud of your achievement.

    I also wanted to say thank for your honesty. In an age of look at me blogging, triviality, and celebrity pap, your blog is consistently refreshing.

    Best wishes

    Ron

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    1. Ron – thanks for your comment in duplicate (!) and sorry to hear you’ve been having difficult times too. It’s encouraging to hear that so many people are willing to wait for the book – I just hope it lives up to expectations.

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    2. I'm sure it will do. Will you being doing another event at EBF when the times comes?

      Ron

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  8. I enjoyed the alternative history and politics of the first book but sometimes the action was a bit too relentless for me. So I for one would welcome a slower pace and more character. Can't wait to buy my copy in 2014.

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    1. Anon – thanks for your comment. The action has been slowed down for Book 2 with more politics and history added instead – so hopefully you will enjoy it.

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  9. You are definitely not a panster!! LOL!

    But seriously! I hope you have a good rest of the year now without suffering any more slings and arrows of outrageous fortune!

    Besides, my mama always told me that good things come to those who wait! :-)

    Book 2 is going to be totally amazeballs!

    Take care
    x

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    1. Kitty – I could do with a very quiet and uneventful rest of 2013… if not for the book, then for my own well being! Hope you enjoy Book 2 :o) x

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  10. Wow Guy, you have my utmost respect - not just for rewriting a book after writing so many words but for pushing aside publisher pressure to write the RIGHT book, to do the idea in your head justice. Second books are so, so hard (DM me about mine sometime!) and it sounds like yours will be worth the wait.

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    1. Cally – thanks for your comment and glad to have your respect. I don’t think I appreciated just how tricky second books could be until I found myself immured in the writing of one! Look forward to learning more about your experiences of your second book. I hope things get easier with the third…

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  11. I thought From the Sky Down was awesome too! and not just because of Adam Clayton ;-) But look how the album turned out in the end. All the anxst produced the most amazing end result. I'm sure you'll be the same. Good luck with book 2. Can't wait to read it xx

    PS, where did you get the film from? I'd love to own it but it's not on Amazon.

    PS, PS, some of the comments above and from spammers!!!

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    1. Louise – thanks for your comment. I am hoping that if a lot of sweat and tears goes into the writing of a book it shows in the end result!

      Spammers have been deleted – thanks for pointing them out. I’m always months behind on watching things I’ve recorded, so I saw an old recording of FTSD rather than owning it on disc. Sorry, I can’t be more helpful!

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  12. I was somewhat wary of posting a blog that was so honest and personal but I needn't have worried. No previous blog has prompted such a warm and plentiful response. Thanks for all your replies both on here and Facebook and those people who mailed me directly. I feel very buoyed by all your kind comments.

    This entry was primarily about the process of writing Book 2. In the coming weeks/months I intend to blog about the content.

    Thanks again,

    Guy

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  13. Hello Guy

    I've come to this post late – everyone has already said what I would have written, and more eloquently than I could have done, so all I can do is add my voice to theirs.

    I’m glad you feel you’ve turned the corner back onto the right road. A book might be a product, but writing is a process – which means nothing along the way is ever lost or broken. Take heart, and keep going – and we’ll be here to cheer you on when you need it.

    Catherine x

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  14. Hi.

    Thought your book was a nonstop thrill ride that rivals anything that Bond or Jason Bourne could undertake, though it's not for the faint of heart! It was also interesting how it's rooted in the actual blueprints the Nazis had for Africa.

    When will the next in the series be out? And how many books will there be? I look forward to the next one.

    Regards, PTL

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  15. Write faster. Please! Can't wait till 2014 OR to find out what happens next. I have a feeling Burton won't be getting home...

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  16. Guy,
    Thank you for the honesty. Nothing is worse than waiting without and idea of delays. Hope the rest of the year is kinder to you and looking forward to the fun of the book launch next year

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  17. Any idea when in 2014? Same for US?

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  18. I can't remember who said it, but I once heard a writer talking about the act of getting the words on paper and he said if it wasn't agony he knew it wouldn't be good.

    Hopefully the same applies for you!

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  19. I just finished your book. As a long-time reader who particularly appreciates Alternative History writing, your book has been more than enjoyable - stunning would be a better word. I look forward to the second of this series - it's difficult for me to believe that this is your first novel. The attention to detail, character development, and your gift for turning phrases carry the authority of a seasoned writer - or better, a keen observer of and commentator on human beings and the things of which they are capable. Keep up the good work.

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  20. I just finished reading your book. As a long-time reader of Alternate History, I can only call your work - stunning. Your attention to detail, ability to turn a phrase, and what I consider your perception of the human condition and what drives individuals is superb. Hard to believe this is your first novel. I await your second and third with eager anticipation. Keep up the good work - and work hard not to lose your edge.

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  21. Mr. Saville,
    It is most refreshing to have an author share their rationale and struggles with the reading public. Thank you for your honesty,integrety, and commitment to creating your Best Work for us the avid reader. I await your next novel with anticipation and I know it will be well worth the wait. Most of all, take time for yourself, create at your own speed, tell the stories you wish to tell in the manner that you are most comfortatble

    Harry Moncelle, Apex, NC May 28, 2013

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  22. Catherine - sorry for taking so long to reply! I've actually been busy working on Book 2, hence neglecting this blog. And thanks for your kind words: much appreciated :-)

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  23. PTL, Sam, Anon (11 May) - sorry for taking so long to reply! I've actually been busy working on Book 2, hence neglecting this blog. I hope you want mind me replying to your comments with this one response but there's considerable overlap in your questions!

    Book 2 is due out toward the end of 2014 in the UK, with a similar publication date in the US too. More details about the plot itself will be following shortly. Keep checking this blog!

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  24. Anon (2 April) - sorry for taking so long to reply! I've actually been busy working on Book 2, hence neglecting this blog.

    Thanks for your kind words, and if you're coming to the book launch you can't be quite as anonymous as your posting suggests! ;-) Hopefully the launch will be an interesting event...

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    1. Sorry I was too lazy to set up the name at the time

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  25. Will - sorry for taking so long to reply! I've actually been busy working on Book 2, hence neglecting this blog.

    If that's the case, then Book 2 should be good indeed!

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  26. Del - sorry for taking so long to reply! I've actually been busy working on Book 2, hence neglecting this blog.

    Thanks for your two comments: I always appreciate compliments in duplicate ;-) I'm also thrilled to hear how much you enjoyed reading my book. It's always satisfying to hear of readers who appreciate the details and characterisation as much as the plot.

    Thanks again for taking the time to write, and I hope you'll be a regular on this blog.

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  27. Harry - sorry for taking so long to reply! I've actually been busy working on Book 2, hence neglecting this blog.

    Thanks for your comment. I've been overwhelmed by how supportive readers have been. Publishers are always telling writers that they have to get their new books out as quickly as possible - so it's reassuring to hear how readers seem happy to wait.

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  28. I'm getting old waiting. Get on with it please

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  29. Anon - LOL! Thanks for your message and sorry not to have replied sooner. I'm getting old writing it! But it is on its way, I promise, and I hope it will be worth the wait. New Book 2 update blog coming shortly. Keep your eyes out for it...

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  30. Thanks for writing a sequel - take your time and do it right! Hang in there. . . .

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    1. Anon - thanks for your comment and I am hanging in there! Hope you enjoy the sequel when it arrives...

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  31. Hi

    On the website it says 'Update 2 coming soon', as well as map, opening chapter etc - also all coming soon.

    When will that be?

    Can't wait to get my hands on the sequel.

    Suraj

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  32. Suraj - thanks for your comment. I plan to publish 'Update 2' next week some time (w/b 16 Dec), with the map and opening chp following in the new year. Keep your eye on facebook for all the latest developments, or keep checking the website

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  33. Desde Uruguay. Un saludo grande, esperemos que -traducción de por medio- llegue a estas tierras en algún momento del 2014. Gracias por horas de diversión. Federico.

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  34. Federico - Hola. ¡Qué emocionante recibir noticias de un lector en Uruguay! Seguro que estará en camino una versión española del segundo libro, pero por lo que tarda en traducirlo, a lo mejor no llegará hasta 2015. Le mantendré informado. Gracias por dedicar tiempo a escribir. Saludos.

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  35. Guy, Great work and just the kind of authenticate alternative history (may I say "alternate universe"?) I favor in my movie productions. You made the logic of the historical development work, as well as create a jaw-dropping rocket ride out of the action scenes. You'd make a good screenwriter...!

    I am curious, and dare ask you: What happened to Neliah? Surely I don't have to buy the second book to find out, do I? Such a blunt literary device would seem to be unnecessary ....

    Would love to know, to correspond with you, and of course I will buy the next book regardless ....

    PS Have you sold the film rights yet?

    Robert.Sanson

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    1. Robert - thanks for your comment and I'm glad you enjoyed the book. Yes 'alternate universe' is fine... indeed it's most apt for Book 2 which is on a much bigger scale/canvas, so universe seems the better description.

      Neliah lives... but is not in Book 2. However, she is one of the main characters in Book 3 (more details at 'N is for...').

      Will send you an email about film rights...

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  36. Hi Guy. My name is Francisco and I'm from Argentina. First of all, congratulations on your book "The Afrika Reich". I got the spanish version 2 weeks ago during my last trip to Buenos Aires, and I must say, I got quite "hooked up" to the story from the very beginning. I finished reading the last pages today. I got so into the story, that couldn't help myself from reading half of the book in just 2 days. The book is a masterpiece! You really did a great job on it. I'm really eager to read the sequel, but please, take your time. If you want something done right don't rush it. There is a famous quote that belongs to Napoleon that reads something like "Dress me slowly, I'm on a hurry" (It's just my translation from the learned spanish version "Visteme despacio, que tengo prisa"). In the meanwhile, you got a new fan on this southern land. Hugs and thanks for the "magic world" I've been into lately.

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    1. Hi Francisco - thanks for your posting and taking the time to write. It's always especially pleasing to hear from people who have read the foreign editions, even more so from somewhere as exotic as Argentina!

      I'm so glad you enjoyed the book and you may be pleased to know that Book 2 is now finished and has entered the production process. Currently I have no information about the release of the Spanish edition of Book 2 - but I will let you know as soon as I do.

      Thanks again for taking the time to write. Always good to hear from readers.

      Best wishes

      Guy

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