No, really. I’ve posted the recipe on The Fayre of the Courts?
The Eighth Court, the fourth and final book in the series, The Courts of the Feyre, is finished. It’s with my publisher, who may request some revisions or amendments, and after that it has to go through copy edit, and proof-reading, and all the other publication magic but, to me, it feels finished. I’m not going to spoil it for readers by sharing the plot, but I would like to reflect on the series, and what writing the last book was like.
It was hard. The last year hasn’t been the easiest of times for reasons to do with the health and well-being of the people closest to me. Fortunately everyone seems to be pulling through and things are generally on the up, which is a relief to us all. Setting myself apart from all that to write has been difficult, but even without the events of the year this book would have been hard.
I’ve been working full-time while I’ve been writing, which is great because it pays the bills. I have a job in IT that is engaging, complex and sometimes difficult, and one of the challenges has been the gear-change between working, where I’m thinking about networks, servers and infrastructure, and writing, where I’m thinking about characters, plots, scenes and settings. Writing requires a different mind-set, and I confess that some evenings I wasn’t able to make the switch, which meant that either I got no writing done, or the next day I would sit down and delete everything from the previous day and start again. Although the book is just under 120,000 words, I estimate that I’ve written closer to 180,000 words. Some chapters have been written two or three times before I felt they were right.
I set out with some clear goals. I already knew how the series would end, or I thought I did, and I had to work towards that end in a way that made sense for the characters and the situation that had already been created. There were some questions that were created by the previous books in the series, and those questions needed answers. The series themes, of things hidden in plain sight, of events from long ago having impact in the present day, and of a hidden world beneath the one we know, needed to be continued and developed. The one big question – what has this all been about – needed an answer.
With this being the final book in the series, I didn’t want to bring in a lot of new characters or elements which hadn’t been seen before. There are already well over 50 characters in the books, some of whom are dead, or won’t be seen again, but I felt there was plenty to work with. There are a few minor characters that appear in this book but mostly they’re people we’ve already encountered earlier. The magic in the book is consistent with the magic that already exists. There are some surprises, but those are consistent with what we already know. The world of the Feyre has a lot of detail behind it which dictates how and why things are the way they are, and in this final book more of this will be revealed, but the world will remain largely mysterious. Be assured, there are rules and constraints and reasons, but they’re not in the book. Perhaps one day there will be a Courts of the Feyre bestiary, but not yet.
Most of all, I wanted this to be a satisfying end to the series, and that meant delivering on the promises set by the previous three books. Niall, Blackbird and Alex each have their own plot arc, and each of these arcs needed to reach a conclusion in this book. Each of them had been changed by the events in the series, and in the final book those changes needed to bear fruit – we should feel that they have reached a conclusion and a resolution. It turns out that writing the final book in a series is harder than writing any of the others. I think I said once that if I’d known how hard writing would be I would never have started – that applies even more to a series. I liken it to rolling a snowball – the more you roll it, the bigger it gets and the harder it is to roll, but roll it must.
And when I got to the end that I’d planned from the start, it didn’t work the way I thought it should. I was forced to step back, reconsider, and write a different ending. I like the new ending, but it was a total surprise. I had no idea it was going to end quite like that, but the new ending works so much better.
Before I sent the book to my editor, Lee, I went back to my goals and asked myself where exactly I had delivered on the objectives I’d set for myself. I found the pieces in the text and read them back to make sure I’d done what I set out to do. To me, it’s all there, and that’s why I can say that it feels finished. Of course, I’m not the final arbiter of that, and you the readers must judge that for yourself.
To me, though, The Courts of the Feyre feels complete, and I’ve told the story I set out to tell.
As an add-on to the visit to Sheffield Central Library, we stayed on to visit my son who is at university in Sheffield. It was a lovely clear morning on Sunday, and the students were all asleep, so we went to Sheffield Botanical Gardens for a wander around and a cup of (very good) coffee. A visit is highly recommended, but in case it’s not within your reach, here are some pics:
On 17th November we had a very successful visit to Sheffield Central Library – a big thank you to Dan and the team, to Harland Cafe and to The Space Centre for organising and supporting the event. Hi to everyone who came along – I hope we were able to entertain you and answer your questions. A special thank you to the person who asked the question about deadlines
Some pics below:
This Saturday 17th November there will be not one, but four Angry Robot Authors in Sheffield. As part of their Readers Events, Sheffield Central Library are hosting a Science Fiction and Fantasy Readers Day with four authors, each with a different style of fantasy:
- David Tallerman – “Best known for an eclectic variety of short stories, Tallerman debuts with a breezy novel of a man with his eye on the prize … Tallerman’s charming, devil-may-care hero has plenty of swashbuckling roguishness to carry him through the planned sequels.” – Publishers Weekly
- Gav Thorpe – “The Crown of the Blood should really have a warning sticker on the front (Angry Robots take note) it’s one of those books that are almost impossible to put down, so much so that you find yourself unconsciously continuing to (try to) read after geeting up to make a brew / go to work / go to bed (delete as applicable and don’t try this at home kids). The novel also stands out with a very strong opening scene and excellent end, with a genuinely unexpected twist.” – SFBook.com
- Anne Lyle – “Anne Lyle’s Alchemist of Souls teems with intrigue and magic worthy of the Bard himself, all set against the backdrop of Elizabethan London. The attention to historical detail brings the time and place alive and peoples it with characters I could instantly empathize with. An outstanding debut!” Lynn Flewelling
And you get me into the bargain, talking about The Courts of the Feyre and writing in general. I will also be around to sign copies of the books, including Strangeness and Charm – all supported with free cake from The Harland Cafe and with books on sale from The Space Centre.
NOTE – TICKETS ARE FREE, BUT YOU HAVE TO BOOK IN ADVANCE
If that wasn’t enough to tempt you,the Angry Robot editorial team will be there, talking about publishing, what it takes to be an Angry Robot Author and how to get that big break. The event starts at 1pm at Sheffield Central Library, but remember to get those tickets in advance.
Hope to see you there
This weekend Bedford will be hosting its bi-annual River Festival and entirely co-incidentally, I will be at Waterstones on Silver Street signing copies of Strangeness and Charm and the earlier books.
Do come along and get your books signed – the staff at Waterstones are very welcoming and helpful. The event starts at 10:30 and will continue until about 4pm if we still have books. Last time we had sold all the stock by 2pm, so my advice would be to come earlier rather than later to avoid disappointment.
Hope to see you there.
You may have noticed that my homepage was overtaken by some unwelcome visitors for a short while. Unfortunately I was at Edge-Lit in Derby for the weekend, which made it difficult to deal with. However, it appears to have been sorted out now and will hopefully not recur.
They are not the only unwelcome visitors, though. I posted last time about Harriet (or Henry) but neglected to mention Marge (or perhaps Maurice).
Maurice (or Marge) decided that the snacks in our food cupboard were just too tempting and helped herself (or himself). As you can see, this unwelcome visitor was caught and you will be pleased to know that he (or she) was carefully transported to a new home in a local country park where there is plenty on offer for an aspiring mouse.
Hopefully, neither visitor will be back.
Edge-Lit, by the way, turned out to be an interesting and entertaining weekend with a chance to catch up with old friends and make some new ones. Thanks to all those who came along to my workshop on writing dialogue, and Hi to all those attending panels and readings or just hanging out in the bar.
Hopefully it will become a regular thing – the event, not the visitors.