In November 2013 I was in Paris, a brief stopover on the way to visiting family. I had a plan: I would begin my next novel, the sequel to Last Song Before Night, in a cafe there. A lot of trepidation had led up to this moment–putting aside all the research I’d done, including a visit to the Louvre’s exhibition on Islamic art–and making a start of the story. The best way to overcome that trepidation, I thought, was by means of a psychological trick. I thought: “Even if the first pages are bad, they’ll at least have been written in a cafe in Paris!”
So on a cold autumn day I took advantage of the generosity of a cafe on Rue Cler, where they didn’t mind my staying from morning until evening–or at least, didn’t show it if they did. The scribbled ideas in my notebooks, with their asterisks and exclamation points and underlining and question marks…these began to take shape as fiction. Which is, I believe, the most naked and uncompromising form there is. (Hence, the trepidation.)
That was 2013. While the novel I handed in to my editor a few days ago bears little resemblance to the story I began in Paris that day, the heart of the novel remains the same. One scene–a fateful one–that I wrote in Cafe Eclair on Rue Cler remains in the final draft. I am glad some part of that day–a cherished memory–is preserved in the book.
This next book required a great deal of research because I was determined not to do the same thing, or even a similar thing, again. I wanted to expand the frontiers of the world in Last Song Before Night, in all ways–in terms of geography, societies, magic, and cast of characters. Most important was to do justice to the character arcs of the first book. No matter how far afield we might go into enchantments and epic battles in fantasy, the human heart is–it seems to me–where it all ends up, and must begin.
No idea of a release date yet. Revisions, copyediting, and proofreading are still ahead. This post is just to mark the occasion: a work of nearly three years is done.