Some bad news for this week, though it does have a silver lining to it.
As regular readers know, I’ve been working on a new urban fantasy series as of last summer, and I finished the first draft of Book 1 at the end of January. Since then I’ve been talking it over with my beta readers and thinking about what edits I’d like to make and where I’d like the series to go.
Unfortunately, the longer I’ve thought about it, the more I’ve come to realise that I’m not really happy with the book in its current state. There are several reasons for this:
1) The series was originally conceived as an urban fantasy story with some progression fantasy elements. It’s also much more human-centric than the Alex Verus series – in the first draft there are no magical or supernatural creatures at all. While this has made the series more coherent and grounded than the Alex Verus books, it’s also meant that it’s much more “materialist” than most of my books have tended to be – much of the story has ended up revolving around money and power, and now that I look at the whole thing, I’m just kind of dissatisfied. It doesn’t feel magical enough.
2) While I’ve developed a lot of the new world and setting in detail, creating a new urban fantasy setting is a huge job and a lot of stuff necessarily got left out. In particular, a lot of the story elements in Book 1 are started but not finished – they’re not really developed, partly because I haven’t figured out where they’re going to go yet. I did this a lot in the Alex Verus series, too, but I’m not sure it’s working well enough this time. Several of my beta readers commented that the first book felt incomplete/unsatisfying (there aren’t resolutions to about 2 out of 3 of the main conflicts) and that’s not the feeling I want my readers to be walking away with after reading book 1 of what’s supposed to be a long-running series.
It’s a bit frustrating because I’ve been working really hard on this book for a really long time and I’ve now got it in a state where it’s finished and I’d really like for it to be done. I’ve already got contract offers from my US and UK publishers for the first few books of the series and I could pretty much decide to sign those right now and have book 1 out in 12 months or so (if I seriously wanted to speed things up, I could self-publish it instead and have it out in a fraction of that time). Unfortunately I think that if I do that, the result just won’t be good enough. I’m sure lots of people will buy book 1 based on their good opinions of the Alex Verus series, but I don’t just want people to read it because they liked Alex Verus. I want people to read it because they liked Alex Verus, then go on to like this series just as much. And in the book’s current state, I’m not confident that that’ll happen.
So I’m going to go back to the drawing board and do a rewrite. I don’t know how long it’ll take, but I’m expecting that it’ll be months. (This means that the Alex Verus short story that I had been hoping to do in February isn’t happening any time soon, unless I get so sick of the rewrite that I decide to take a break and do something completely different for a few weeks.)
On the positive side, I’m sure that the book’s going to be much better by the time that I’m done. Another side effect that I suspect my readers won’t mind is that with the new plans that I’m drawing up, the series is likely to be longer. My initial plan for the series was that it would be quite a bit shorter than Alex Verus – the world was much ‘smaller’ and there wasn’t as long a journey for the main character to go on or as much to do. With the new plans that I’m working on, the stakes are going to be a lot higher and there’ll be a lot more room for more important things to happen.
So that’s where things are at the moment! I’ll give you more news once I have it, but for the foreseeable future, I’m going to be fully absorbed in rethinking/reworking the foundations of my new setting.