Writin’ Right Along

Well, many moons have passed since my last blog entry (in fact, many moons have passed since I looked at my website at all), and I found that there was a plethora of comments waiting for me. My apologies for not addressing them sooner. I’ll admit, I tend to forget about everything when I’m writing. But, evidently, it is time for an update on all things Dan and Book.

Firstly, there’s been some interest in the progress of Book Two. I can advise that I (and the book) are progressing right along. Earlier in the year, I announced triumphantly that I had finished the first draft. I should clarify, however, that when I write, the first draft consists of me vomiting everything in my head out onto the page. It is a torrent of good ideas, mixed with, well, vomit. ‘Cause you never know where something might lead. And I am, in fact, the worst judge of my own work, so the filters that you might think would get applied by any right-thinking person aren’t applied at all. Instead, every idea, good and bad, gets put down. That’s the first draft.

Then I put it away.

And it sits, festering in the dark, while I do other things.

This festering is supremely important to the way I write. I don’t know about other writers, but I find it very difficult to look at stuff that I’ve written recently with an unbiased eye. It’s all too immediate. So I put it aside, and try not to think about it all. Of course, it doesn’t work that way, and new ideas occur to me, and I jot them down on bits of paper that I promptly lose, but I don’t look at the text itself. The more time I leave it, the better, but even a couple of days can be really useful.

Then I come back, and look at it, and snigger at some parts, and groan at others, and recoil violently from some ideas that could obviously never have worked, and what the hell was I thinking?

And I wade back into it.

In the case of this wading phase, however, I did something a little different. I went on a research trip to the UK and the Netherlands. Now, some might say that it would be best to conduct the research trip BEFORE I started writing, and I’ll concede that approach has some merit. But I didn’t do that for a number of reasons.

Firstly, in addition to writing novels, I have a day job, and I like it. I enjoy it a lot. But it takes up time. And there wasn’t a good opportunity to take time off until the middle of this year. Also, there were people I wanted to meet with and interview, and they weren’t immediately available. And then there were some events I wanted to attend that only occur at certain parts of the year. So, the research trip had to wait. But it was definitely worth waiting for.

It was great. I visited Cardiff and London and attended the horseraces at Royal Ascot. I went to Delft and Amsterdam and the Hague. I took several million photos. I jotted down copious notes and managed not to lose them. I came home with so many ideas that I wanted to put into the book – ideas that made it better, and cooler, and put a Checquy spin on some big things. So, now I am working my way through the manuscript, putting in new elements, tightening scenes, cutting dross, changing stuff. It’s how I write, but I’ve never done it with an audience before.

So, when will it be done? I don’t have a firm date for you, I’m afraid. I’m working as hard as I can on it, but I want it to be as good as it can be. I’m working with my glorious editor, and my magnificent agent, and when it’s done, it’ll be done. But sooner, rather than later.

In other news, I’m delighted to share with you the news that The Rook received the Aurealis Award for Best Science Fiction Novel. The Aurealis Awards are Australian literary prizes, and I was really, utterly not expecting to win. Seriously. When they said the name of the book, I made peculiar noise that I’ve never made before, which sounded like a yodeller getting punched briskly in the stomach. Then I had to totter on weak knees up to the stage to receive the reward and something intelligent. I succeeded in one of these tasks. It’s just that I really didn’t think I was going to win.

Let this be a lesson to you, if ever you’re nominated for something, have some remarks ready, even if you really don’t expect to win. Because otherwise, you have to make a conscious effort from thanking the entire human race.

And that’s what’s happening at the moment. I shall endeavour to update more frequently, as things happen.

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45 Responses

  1. Robert says:

    Bravo. I am glad that the Rook was acknowledged for the great read it was and is. Now while i really really would like to start on the second book(when ever it is ready) I will agree that it needs to be done right so that it loses none of its “Magic” that we all hope will feed our minds with wild images of the Checquy roaming the streets of London.

    Congrats Daniel.

    • Daniel says:

      Thanks so much, Robert. If you need some London magical law enforcement to tide you over, I recommend Ben Aaronovitch’s ‘Rivers of London’ series.

  2. Mike says:

    I had so much fun reading The Rook and delving into the world of The Checquy and Myfanwy. I wholeheartedly agree that you should take your time, your fans will wait (on bated breath may I add).

    On a different note…how’s the assassins book coming along? Still just an idea or has anything more developed?

    • Daniel says:

      Thanks, Mike. The assassins book (as well as a couple of other projects) is on the back burner for the moment, while I focus on the second Checquy book. Ideas still keep coming for it, however, and I scribble them down frantically before diving back into supernatural law enforcement.

  3. Wern says:

    I just wanted to say I stumbled upon The Rook in a bookstore while waiting out the rain, bought it on a whim, and I’m really glad I did! It’s gripping, witty, with just the right amount of mystery-vs-questions-answered to keep me hooked. Myfanwy impersonating herself is hilarious.

    Congrats on the award! It’s an amazing book, and I can’t wait for the next one.

  4. Christine says:

    I loved your book, after reading the first page. I’m looking forward to the second part. I hope that will be soon. Congratulations to you!

  5. Wern says:

    I stumbled upon The Rook while sheltering from the rain in a bookstore, and I’m really glad I did! It’s a fantastic read, hilarious and intense and gripping and silly all at once, and I love it. Really enjoyed reading it over this weekend and I’m already re-reading it, marveling at all the little things that new-Myfanwy doesn’t know that I now do.

    Question for you, though: what are the significance of the “Crimson” and “Alabaster” prefixes? There are a few passing references to a Crimson Rook, Crimson Lord, and Alabaster Lady (I think) … as well as something about the “Lords and Ladies of the Checquy” so it sounds like there are multiples? … but I can’t recall that ever being elaborated on.

    Oh and congratulations on the award! Much deserved. :D

    • Daniel says:

      Hi Wern,

      You have a good eye for detail! I think you are the first person to ask me about the different coloured Court titles. It’s one of those things that will get explored and explained in the future.

      Thanks for your congratulations!

  6. [...] loved The Rook and I’m eagerly awaiting the sequel. (Are you listening, [...]

  7. Karen says:

    I’m glad you finally posted something. I was getting worried you had forgotten about us. Can’t wait for Book 2!!

  8. Scarlett says:

    Um – YAY! So glad the book is garnering recognition because, well, its brillant. I’ve read it once – and listened to it on Audio twice. I’m sure the same will be true of the second book. Thinking hmmm…what events around this time of year could be in the book? Myfanwy goes to Oktoberfest?? Perhaps a Thomas sisters getaway?

    • Daniel says:

      Oktoberfest would be so cool (the research alone would be outstanding), but at the moment it’s all based in the UK. I don’t want to give too much away, but I will confirm that Myfanwy was obliged to purchase a new hat in this book. As well as, you know, fighting supernatural evil.

  9. Kara says:

    How long do you usually like to put a first draft aside?

  10. sasha says:

    just wanted to say that The Rook became a bit of an obsession of mine this year, i helped you out with book sales in the US by buying several copies (in hardcover, no less! ) to give as gifts and highly recommending both the text and Audible versions to others. i discovered The Rook on audible.com,and absolutely loved Susan Duerdan’s narration…if possible, please please please have her read the sequel. I’m very excited to hear that the new book is coming along. i was recommended the rook by audible because i had purchased The Grimnoir Trilogy by Larry Correia, i don’t know if you’re familiar with those books, Hard Magic, Spellbound, and Warbound, (all read by Bronson Pinchot on Audible, excellent) but they’re great, as are his Monster Hunter International series. they’re different from the Rook, obviously, but may tide your avid fans over until the next Chequay book. with all these great ideas floating around in your pockets on bits of paper, is it possible there might be a third book in there as well? please don’t pull a George RR Martin and keep us waiting for 10 years! Congratulations on your success, it’s well deserved…

  11. SQT says:

    Congrats Daniel! “The Rook” is the only book I have read more than once in years. I check in now and then just to see how you’re coming on the sequel and I’m so happy to see that the appreciation for Myfanwy is growing.

  12. Edwina says:

    I only bought the book because my daughter is Myfanwy, but I LOVED it! And now I’ve just got it back from a work colleague and am about to re-read. Yay!

  13. Sheila says:

    Sage, and hilarious, advice at the end, my friend. I think it is not too much of an exaggeration to say that I have read at least half of the book out loud to my fiancé by quoting my favorite parts as they came about.
    I’m not surprised at all by the award, you definitely deserved it. CONGRATULATIONS! The Rook is by far one of the best books I have ever read and I think you should take your sweet time to write the second. Do the same thing you did for the first book and we are all guaranteed an amazing sequel. Patiently (well… relatively) awaiting the next book!

  14. Lex Dee says:

    I have a reminder set to check this website once every two months. It’s a little embarrassing but after a colleague told me to read The Rook I have been pining for a sequel. Thanks for letting your mildly obsessive sci-fi fanatic fanbase know you’re alive and writing, and thanks for producing some amazing Australian literature!

  15. Robert says:

    Hi, Daniel. I have said before all my good thoughts for “The Rook” so wont go there this time again so soon. I might offer my thoughts on your short video and the actress who is playing the secretary, she is brilliant.

    When they wise up and make a movie of your book, she should be really considered for the part of Ingrid. Just my thoughts, now i will get off my soap box.

    Thanks again and bravo for the book. Robert.

  16. Erinn says:

    Hi Daniel,

    THE ROOK was such a great book, and I can’t wait for your next book to be published. I’m glad to hear that you are coming out with a sequel. I thought Myfawny was a great character and was glad that you created a female hero. She was not without flaw, but that was what made her likable. The way she gradually began to accept her fate (even though she could have chosen to start a new life) was one of the most interesting parts of the novel.

  17. Molly says:

    Very much looking forward to the new installment! I’m not surprised you won, The Rook is one heck of a book. Loved it.

  18. Matthias says:

    Hi Daniel,

    first of all, I love your first book and truly believe that you deserve the award and all praise you’re getting!
    What you wrote about ‘vomiting’ out your ideas really reminded me on a fabulous quote by Karl Weick that I would like to share with you:

    “How can I know what I think until I see what I write?”

    Would that fit to your way of working?

    All the best,


  19. Joyce Saenz Harris says:

    Dan: Don’t think of it as festering. Think of it as marinating.

  20. Annette from Tassie says:

    Loved the book, looking forward to the second, congrats!

  21. Abbey says:

    “a yodeller getting punched briskly in the stomach” – oh, that’s hilarious. We, your public, salute you!

  22. Linda Bond says:

    Your writing process sounds more together than mine… And I, too, let months go by between shots at the web. I’m pretty sure we’re not the same person and I didn’t write The Rook, so I’m not responsible for the 2nd installment. Thank God! Otherwise, I’d have even more guilt… I DO look forward to it, however… so hang in there, however you need to write it. I’ll enjoy knowing it was done with a mind to quality, as I’m sure your other readers will agree.


  23. Adrian says:

    First, congratulations on all the praise. It’s well deserved in my view and I’m still glad a year or so on that I stumbled onto The Rook at my bookstore. It’s still a great read and now I’m thinking about giving the audio book a try, too. Needless to say, I’m looking forward to the sequel.

    I do have a general question, though. Forgive me if it’s mentioned in the book but is there a special/specific name or term for Myfanwy’s power(s)? I’ve just been wondering about that for a little while. Anyway, thanks for coming back to give us an update. I’m looking forward to more.

  24. James says:

    Hi, I have really enjoyed the book. I picked it up after Stefen of Stefen’s books in Perth picked it for his book club otherwise I might have missed it.

    One thing I enjoyed was the clever little references to other supernatural stories in the case reports, Narnia’s wardrobe being my favourite. One question I have though is how many did I miss? Are all the cases in the paperwork taken from myth, fairy tales and other stories?

    Looking forward to book 2.

    • Daniel says:

      Hi James. No, not every thing is taken from other works. In fact, most aren’t, but I did try to sneak in quite a few references to some of my favorite works. I was especially pleased that I got to tip my hat to Tove Jansson, John Wyndham, China Mieville, and Margaret Wise Brown (among a few others.) I’m glad you noticed them!

  25. Roro says:

    I have to thank you so much for The Rook. Never have I been transported to a world so fascinatingly grim and amazing. I have read it a few times now and am constantly amazed at the place this book takes me.

    I cannot wait for book 2 – I’ll be pouncing right on it as soon as it’s out. Just to be annoying, any update on progress/date/any glimmer of hope? I’m not sure how much longer I can wait before I start writing my own crappy sequel to calm my impatience! :) (JK)

    Thank you again, you really deserved the Aurealis award! Congrats :)

  26. Roro says:

    Oh – and to add to the above – there NEEDS to be a movie made! It could be mind blowing.

  27. Anthony says:

    I’ve literally just this second finished the book.

    I’ve been building myself up to buying it for a while, but had to overcome a lack of time, money and an aversion to hardbacks. It had, admittedly, then been bought to add to my ‘to read’ pile (which, as an English teacher, is both fluid and extensive).

    I couldn’t resist. I’ve read the whole thing in four days. I can’t believe that more people aren’t raving about this book. I’ve been recommending it to pretty much everyone I know. Although, I must admit, there is a certain level of excitement which you don’t experience often – a feeling of discovering something which people will soon be going mad for.

    I absolutely loved the book – the hierarchy, Myfanwy, insane abilities, overzealous adepts and hardcore pawns. It was an absolutely delicious read, an absolute triumph!

    I cannot wait until the next installment – do try not to mull over it for too long :)

    • Daniel says:

      Anthony, rest assured, I am labouring away in the fiction mines even as we speak. Thanks for writing, it’s really encouraging to get such good feedback (and from an English teacher!)

  28. Dave says:

    Hi, just wanted to tip my hat to you for a great first book, I wouldn’t normally write on someone’s website but I was so impressed that I felt I should, jasper fforde watch out!! look forward to book 2 – was it just me or did you deliberately make us think Ingrid was going to be dodgy?

    • Daniel says:

      Thanks so much, Dave, I’m glad you enjoyed it. Ingrid was always teetering back and forth for me as to whether she would turn out to be a villain or not. Finally, it became apparent that if I made her a part of the evil conspiracy, there would have been no way for good to triumph. She was simply too competent and too connected to beat.

  29. Robert says:

    Hmmm, maybe i am reaching on something Daniel posted in a nice reply, but i am thinking perhaps he gave a tiny bit of information about our heroine Myfanwy about her future. I wont take a chance and post my guess to not let out something Daniel would prefer be kept secret for now.

    Still if my guess is correct then i am very glad for that news.

  30. Mark says:

    Hmph. Happy you’re happy. Write faster. :-) Please. Rook was quite a charming yarn.

  31. Robert says:

    Hi all you fans of the rook like myself. I was browsing along the threads and blog and if my math is near correct, it has been almost two years since the rook was released to north America. Hopefully that is a good date on the calender.

  32. Robert says:

    Sorry for the double post but i was reading the LA county library systems recommendations of best books in category for 2013 and The Rook was on the list for best Paranormal suspense category. The library manager Karen recommended the book.

    So Bravo, another feather in Daniels cap.

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