As I write this piece it is 12.50pm on Sunday 24th January, and I am sitting in my office cum spare bedroom, listening to Delphic on my iTunes and re-reading the finished typeset copy of the sequel to THE EQUIVOQUE PRINCIPLE, which happens to be called THE ELEVENTH PLAGUE.
During the writing and editing phase of a book as you might expect I read it a lot. Sometimes that can be detremental, sometimes just plain mental. I find myself smiling at bits that are so cool, and I find myself frowning at bits that I can’t even remember writing, but overall, once it is in its typeset form with the acknowledgements and dedications page intact, it feels as real as the book can possibly be without actually being a solid inch of pages in my hands. I really enjoy reading the book in this format as sometimes staring at a sea of 12 point Times New Roman can blind you, and as a writer that has given birth to (almost, bar the editor) every letter, exclamation mark and quotation mark on the page I do accept my ownership of the finished product. When I was re-reading EQUIVOQUE again in paperback I can remember certain things that crop up in my memory. Certain paragraphs or scenes can trigger memories of where I was at the time of writing it, or what was going on in my life at the time. it is like this with all my books (and yes, loyal reader, you may have only seen the one but right at this moment there are four Cornelius Quaint books already completed plus another two of something else entirely).
The birth of THE ELEVENTH PLAGUE began sat on a cold stone bench near Buckingham Palace Road in London, opposite the old offices of my publishers (THE FRIDAY PROJECT). This was some time in 2007 I believe, and I was meeting the friendly Friday folk for the first time to discuss the direction of the Cornelius Quaint series and what I had in mind. I was nervous in a kind of interview way, the first time that I met Mr Scott Pack – a man who when it comes to books knows his onions, and if I am honest, his involvement and backing of the Quaint series was one of the driving forces behind me signing with TFP. We sat down and spoke about what the plans were for both Cornelius and myself, and where we wanted the series to go. Richard E Grant’s name was even mentioned at some point.
At that stage, all that existed of THE ELEVENTH PLAGUE was a few pages of notes in my book and some rough sketches (when I’m thinking of a very visual scene I find it helpful to draw little pictures like a movie storyboard which can save a whole page of descriptive text) and a very loose general outline of what was to occur. That’s a very fun stage, the moment when the idea is at its most freshest point, unsullied by rewrites or edits, and the page is blank so anything can happen and the story can go anywhere.
During the 3 years or so since I first began to flesh out the story lots of things happened to it – where it was going, what it lacked, where it was good, where it was awful, cliched, tired and cluttered, after the editing phase, after the copy-editing/proofreading stage etc – and yet the finished product is almost exactly the same as the very first version that I had plotted out in 2007 – albeit with some much cooler stuff added.
In March comes the release of THE ELEVENTH PLAGUE and as I sit here writing this, taking a break from a re-read, I am content that it is great stuff – and I’m usually not good with the whole patting myself on the back thing, really I’m not, but it’s such a fantastic adventure – of the type that I would enjoy reading immensely (which is how I judge all my books). THE ELEVENTH PLAGUE does what all good sequels do – it expands the characters from the first book, taking them in a new direction, a new enemy rears his head, and loads of subplots begin to bubble away to be capitalised in later books. This book is where the course of Cornelius Quaint’s destiny begins to show formation. New enemies and allies, Egyptian curses and ancient tombs, challenges, trials, scrapes and japes – but all cast in a familiar mold as began in EQUIVOQUE.
So essentially, I am really happy with this one. I was happy with Equivoque too, but that was written many years ago and so much has changed. I look upon it sort of like I might look upon an ex-partner (it was fun whilst it lasted, but in the end I knew I could do better). With the release of this book and where it takes Cornelius and Madame Destine proves that anything can happen, and it probably will.
With at least one more Cornelius Quaint adventure definitely seeing print in 2011, I am excited about what might occur when the sequel hits the shops. Based on word of mouth it may do really well, but I can’t please everyone. Those people who read and enjoyed Equivoque will find THE ELEVENTH PLAGUE more of the same, yet cranked up a level, with both Cornelius and I hitting our stride….to those who read Equivoque and didn’t like it – what the hell are you doing reading this blog?
Thanks for listening.