Behold, a writer who has completed the first draft of his second novel. Or rather, a writer who has completed the first draft of his second Checquy novel. (I’ve written first drafts of other novels, but this is the one that’s been consuming my time and my brain for the past plethora of months.) Yes, the Checquy Book Two has been poured out upon my computer screen, and even as we speak, my glorious editor is reading it and (I hope) liking it. I actually finished it, and mailed it off, at 3:30 AM Australian time on the 15th of January, and my brain has unclenched enough since then that I can begin looking at it again without hating it intensely.
You’ll notice that I don’t give its title. It’s just Checquy Book Two. It has a provisional title – in my mind — but I’m still brooding over it. For me, the title comes pretty late in the piece. Or rather, the final title comes pretty late in the piece. The Rook’s original title was ‘Namesake’, which came to me in the shower, and which I was convinced was genius. After all, Myfanwy Thomas is named after someone else (the original Myfanwy Thomas) and, well, trust me, it all seemed extremely profound when I was in the shower. However, then a book called ‘The Namesake’ came out, and did very well, and it was gently pointed out to me that another title would be a good idea. So I brooded and agonised for a while, and settled on The Rook, which, in retrospect, has worked out OK. Quite a few people have asked which chess piece the next book will be named after, but I am not convinced that I will go with that recurring motif. For one thing, it’s already been done, and for another, it sort of limits one to six titles. (And since the Checquy doesn’t use ‘King’ and ‘Queen’, it’s a bit tenuous anyway.)
I’m not entirely certain when Checquy Book Two is going to come out. Of course, the whole process is very different from the first time. The Rook took a couple of years to write, this one, about a year. My agent, Mollie Glick, and I did a lot of polishing before The Rook went out to publishers, and then my editor, Asya Muchnick, and I did a lot more polishing. This one, Book Two, has gone to both of them at the same time. And I’ll confess, I’ve already started making some strategic alterations before they’ve even gotten back to me. I’m really excited about this one, though.
A couple of people have remarked how long it’s been since I’ve done a blog entry. They are, of course, correct. I’ve just checked, and seen that the last one was actually in May 2012. My only answer is that Book Two had a due date, and it took precedence over many, many things, including blogging. I have a reverence and a terror of due dates that borders on the psychotic. But, a lot of things have happened in the intervening time – things which, when they happened, I thought “I should really write about this.” The problem is, I’m very averse to writing short blog entries. It’s the same with emails (and novels). Anyway, I’ve been keeping a list of things to include in the blog, and now is my chance to share them with you.
Firstly, The Rook has started coming out in different languages! Of course, it has been out in Australian English for a while (with HarperCollins Australia), but it only recently came out in British English with Head of Zeus. It is also available in Italian, incarnated at La Regina from Piemme with some very attractive Ferrari-red added to the cover. I shall put in a photo if I can figure out how (if I can’t, you can see it here: http://www.edizpiemme.it/libri/la-regina). Of course, La Regina translates as ‘The Queen’, but they have not changed Myfanwy’s rank in it. Nor, much to my relief, was it done because the Italian word for ‘Rook’ was also some sort of obscenity. Rather, it’s because they wanted a title that implied feminine authority and majesty, which is entirely reasonable to me.
There is also now the Czech version, which is titled, Hra věží, and which comes to us from Baronet (I shall also attempt to put up a photo of their very different, and very striking, cover. If I can’t manage it because I am incompetent, then you can see it here: http://baronet.cz/beletrie/hra-vezi ). I love it. My only disappointment is that my name remains the same on the cover. My parents became ‘Billu O’Malleyovi’ and ‘Jeanne O’Malleyové’. I expect that it’s a necessity for author-identification, and whatnot, but it would have been cool to see what my name is in Czech.
Now, way back in May, when I last blogged, I mentioned that Charlaine Harris, the creator of the beloved Southern Vampire Mysteries (known best to some via the television show True Blood, although they should read the books because they’re great) had spoken kindly about The Rook, both on her blog, and in an interview. Well, she ALSO spoke about it kindly on NBC’s Today Show! I first heard about this at work, when friends and relations in America began bombarding me with emails, and I was gnawing on my nails, because I try to keep Day Job and Writing separate. So, when I come home, I frantically trawled through the internet and found it. You can actually view the clip online at http://www.today.com/id/47981733/site/todayshow/ns/today-books/t/sizzling-summer-reads-charlaine-harris-janet-evanovich/#.USB_LRyaK6Y . Admittedly, the sizzling summer has passed (at least in the northern hemisphere – it’s still pretty toasty down here), but this is one of the most encouraging things to come out of The Rook’s publication.
Also, I had posted a link to an interview with Unwalkers, but it was in French. The English version also exists, and lurks on the internet, waiting for you at http://www.unwalkers.com/interview-with-daniel-omalley-vo/
I’m going to endeavour to keep the number of links to reviews to a minimum – it’s been eight months, and a fair few reviews. (Negative reviews can, of course, find their own forum to share their views.) I have cut myself off from looking at reviews and ratings on venues like Amazon and Book Depository. That way lies madness. But some reviews that I’m especially delighted about, and which I want to share with you, have accompanied the UK release of The Rook.
See, the two great concerns I had about The Rook were writing a female character, and writing a novel set in the UK. Since I am neither a female nor set in the UK myself, I was braced for some denunciation about whether I’d pulled it off. And I did get a couple of remarks along the lines of ‘that’s not how English people talk’, although those came from Americans, which I thought was a bit interesting. Anyway, some very heartening UK reviews:
James Buxton writing for The Mail Online: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/books/article-2267614/FANTASY.html
David Brzeski writing for The British Fantasy Society: http://www.britishfantasysociety.co.uk/reviews/9507/
A review by Antony in SFBook Reviews: http://sfbook.com/the-rook.htm
And finally, Ani Johnson from The Bookbag: http://www.thebookbag.co.uk/reviews/index.php?title=The_Rook_(The_Checquy_Files)_by_Daniel_O’Malley
In other news, I went weak at the knees when I learned that The Rook was selected as the 2013 fantasy pick for The Reading List. The Reading List is an award awarded by Reference and User Services Association (RUSA), a division of the American Library Association. I’ll quote from their website for the description of the Reading List:
Established in 2007 by the CODES section of RUSA, The Reading List seeks to highlight outstanding genre fiction that merit special attention by general adult readers and the librarians who work with them. The Council, which consists of twelve librarians who are experts in readers’ advisory and collection development, selects one book from each of eight different categories. The eight genres currently included in the council’s considerations are adrenaline titles (suspense, thrillers, and action adventure), fantasy, historical fiction, horror, mystery, romance, science fiction, and women’s fiction. However, the Council is constructed in such a way to be adaptable to new genres and changes in contemporary reading interest.
And by the way, am I the only person who is entranced by the prospect of Council of Librarians?
So, at this point, I’m waiting for the first feedback, and working on more writing (Checquy and otherwise.) And I fully intend to be updating this blog much more frequently.