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.

91 thoughts on “Writin’ Right Along”

  1. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. While I like the ‘Rivers of London’ series (which is mentioned in the afterward of my e-book copy of _The Rook_, I will note that I don’t consider _The Rook_ as magical fantasy – instead it is Superhero fantasy.

        What’s the difference? Well, for one, superhero fantasy doesn’t have to be as logical as magical fantasy does. I admit, that if I had known that this was a Superhero fantasy work, I probably wouldn’t have read it, but I loved _The Rook_. The flavor, the humor, and especially the back story made it for me.

  2. 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?

    1. 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. 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. 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. 😀

    1. 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!

      1. I KNEW IT! I can’t wait for the Alabaster/Crimson division/removal to be revealed because I have read the rook eight and a half times in the last six months (please believe me when I say I’m not joking) and I am driving myself out of my mind trying to figure out/conspire about what might have happened. Yesterday I managed to wrestle The Rook from the hands of two of my best friends in the school library (hence the -half reading) and I keep stumbling on the colored titles. The very first time I really noticed the colors was when the Crimson Lord screamed “For fuck’s sake!” in Church, around the establishment of the Croatoan.

        tl;dr I am really excited for the second book, and (speaking of the Croatoan) I really need some more Myfanwy/Shantay bro action. 🙂

  5. Pingback: Eagerly Awaiting Next “Rook” Book | Robert McGrath's Blog

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

    1. Thanks, Karen. I am sorry about the delay, it’s just the website frequently sort of slides to the bottom of the list of priorities.

  7. 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?

    1. 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.

  8. Hi,
    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…

    1. I am in the same situation; wrestled it from the hands of my best friend in my school library to read the for the ninth time in six months. xD

  9. 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.

  10. 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!

  11. 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!

  12. 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!

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

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

  16. 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,


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

  18. 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.


  19. 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.

  20. 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.

    1. 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!

  21. 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 🙂

  22. 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 🙂

    1. 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!)

  23. 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?

    1. 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.

  24. 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.

  25. Hi, I also just wanted to say what an superb novel you have written. I think u have an absolutely hilarious sense of humor that u very successfully translate into your writing. I was extremely proud when I found out u were an Australian author! All the best for u r future writing, I will be waiting eagerly:)

  26. I LOVE the Rook!!! I can’t wait to meet Myfanwy’s brother! And I reallllly want to see more of Alrich. I really liked him, he was the only one who was nice to Thomas (the shy one). Plus he has an awesome name! I’ve never heard of it, is it an English thing? Oh, and can I have a request? Being from Australia and all, can in the book drop-bears be real? (Shhhhhhhh…. Nobody knows they aren’t, you can’t tell anybody because I just LOVE freaking out tourists by making them think vicious bears are going to drop out of trees and rip their faces off

  27. OMG sorry!!!
    I just found out your’re Australian too (or at least work in Australia, I don’t know!). I thought you were English.
    Well your book is set in England, don’t blame me!

  28. Hi!
    Ummmmmm… Do you know what the title of the second book of the Rook is going to be? Or do you have any ideas? Or are you going to keep them secret? Do you have an estimate on a release date for the new book? Like mid-next-year or early next year or in 2015 (hopefully not that long).
    K thanks.

  29. 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.

  30. Just finished it and i gotta say man it’s up there on best I’ve ever read. You could be on to something big here. I’m talking Harry potter level big. Crank me out and watch $$$ pile up.

  31. 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.

  32. Thank you so much for writing such a brilliant book, one of the best I have read in a long time. I can hardly wait for the next one but I get where you are coming from by leaving what you have written alone and going back to it as a kind of stranger. If it says to you then what you wanted it too then you’ve got it right! I live not far from London in Surrey. If there is ever anything that you forgot to do or see while you were over here, then let me know and I will try to do it for you.
    Best of luck with Book 2 – do we have a title yet? I guess many of us are wondering if it will be The Bishop.
    I too can recommend Ben Aaronovitch’s books and Benedict Jacka’s Alex Verus novels also set in England are good too while we wait for your next one.

  33. Man! It’s been two years since the release and I am dying to get word on the next book in the series. I hope a post comes soon.

  34. Hi Daniel, I just got done listening to the audiobook for a second time to cheer me up because it is 8 degrees in Ohio. We are caught in the polar vortex and it is like the coldest winter in 20 years. temps are in the negative at night. Anyway, the audiobook has just really diverted me from how much harder it is to do EVERYTHING when it is this cold. Espeically when you throw 8 inches of snow in the mix.

    Keep working on the book. THe first one was incredibly complicated I can’t imagine the sequel will be any less. Also, any chance M and the Van Sleusen (I am totally guessing on spelling, I did the audiobook) might hook up?

    Also, the reader did a great job on Her Heflen’s voice on the audio. She made him sound so violent and crazy. It was great.

  35. I loved “The Rook” and have flung it at people left and right. I work in a library and do readers’ advisory so I often get inquiries about good books. I am happy to wait for the next book because I know it will be very good. Congrats on writing one of the most imaginative books I have read in a very long time.

  36. I just wanted to say that I really enjoyed your book. I came across it in a bookstore on a whim and then really got involved in the world you created. I hope your writing is going well and I look forward to the next book.

  37. Hi there,
    Yet another fan of the Rook who stumbled across this site via google as every couple of months I check to see if there’s any news of another book from you.

    Glad to hear there will be another one as I thoroughly enjoyed the first.

    Keep writing 🙂

  38. Hey,

    Just finished The Rook. Freakin’ awesome. I’ll definitely be buying the sequel, whenever it comes out. 🙂

  39. BIG fan of The Rook and can’t wait to read more similar adventures. Truly one of the most enjoyable stories I’ve read in the past few years. I keep recommending it to people in the hopes that more sales will mean more pressure for a sequel! (not really, after all 2 years is not George RR Martin slow…)

  40. I just wanted to say thank you for not only such a good book I have reread it three times now but that you also put in some recommendations for other novels to read in the paperback version. Which I had to buy because I could not figure out how to lend it to everyone I know via my Kindle.

    Any word on when the next book will become available so we can all pre-order?

  41. Such a pleasure to read something so unlike anything else! Kudos to you for marching to your own drummer and enticing us all to go with you into the Chequy world. Can’t wait to visit there again, hopefully soon. In the meantime, do you have author or book suggestions for us to whet our appetite?

  42. I gave the book to all my bookworm friends, we all love it. Can’t wait for the next one. You’re brilliant!

  43. Very glad to hear that the second book is being polished up even now.
    Cheers to Daniel for all the effort along with his support team. I look forward to Stiletto in Feb. Thanks again.

  44. “Not to rush you or anything, but it’s been nearly a year since you posted this update… Do you have anything new to report?” she asks hopefully.

  45. Hi Daniel,
    I know someone who claims to have a copy of your new book? I’m fairly sure she’s lying so she has an excuse to meet me (Long story), but I was wondering if you could confirm 100% that no one has even a draft copy?

    PS, I love the work, so much description into what Myfanwy is thinking, feeling. and the description of bath was rather entertaining. it’s shear brilliance 🙂

  46. I just finished your book and found it amazing. Myfanwy’s brother worries me! Should I be concerned? Thank you for continuing to write and congratulations on your well deserved award.

  47. Hi:
    I am listening to The Rook on CD while I drive to and from work. I never look forward to sitting in traffic….but I do now. While everyone else was upset about the snow this past week and how long the had to sit in their car…..not me.
    I really can’t wait till you write another one.

    THANKS so much for all the laughs, details, and story lines.

  48. The Rook was on display at my library. I loved it! Now, I am very excited for book 2. I liked your style and the intertwined story. Just enough reality.

  49. Just a short note to let you know we fans are still checking your website to check on progress on book two. Eagerly awaiting its arrival.

  50. I am right in the middle of The Rook. I went to the library, and as usual a migrated towards the science fiction section. I picked up this book off the middle of a shelf. It wasnt advertised in any special way but as usual, I judged it by its cover (which well done), and brought it home. This is the best scifi book i have read in a long long time. it is a breathe of fresh air. Thank you

  51. I read a lot of urban fantasy. The Rook is one of the best and refreshingly original piece of work I’ve come across in a very long while. Way better than even Aaronovitch’s PC Grant series. Can’t wait for the sequel and very many more. Long live Myfanwy and Ingrid and even dare I say it Lady Farrier!

  52. Today I passed by a sign in Sydney for Rookwood cemetery, which never fails to remind me of your book. Then I get to wondering if there might be a sequel, and I think “must Google that later!”. But I have small children and they whittle away at my mental prowess daily, so this is the first time I’ve actually followed through on googling. I’m excited to hear that a second book is in the works. I’ll be sure to let my dad know. He’s friends with your dad, which is how I came across your book in the first place. It’s quite nice to be able to say that I used to play with a boy who became an author.
    Good luck with the writing.
    PS- There exist photos of the two of us covered in bath crayons and nothing else, but they’ll never see the light of day, provided you make good on this second book promise 😉

  53. I’m so excited for the next installment Daniel!! Thank you for continuing the story!! I just love bad-ass chicks and a good sense of humor!! Ciao-Ciao Baby!

  54. I just finished the book moments ago and I just have to say it was rather amazing. Originally it was the spine of the book that led me to look at it, the summary on the back that caught my interest, and the story itself to keep it. I originally thought I might be a bit young for this book (I’m 15) but this book was overall enthralling and I am estatic at the prospect of a sequel. Keep doing what you’re doing please!!!

  55. Hold on to your hat, Daniel– You’ve been nominated for another award! This time, it’s an American teen choice award known as the Green Mountain Book Award (GMBA for short). High school students in the state of Vermont get to read books from a fifteen-book-long list and then, if they’ve read three by the end of the school year, they can vote on their favorite! The award was created in 2005 to promote pleasure reading among a demographic that has very little time on their hands. If you want to find out more about the award, like past winners or nominees, you can go to http://libraries.vermont.gov/services/children_and_teens/book_awards/green_mountain
    I know this award isn’t nearly as prestigious as the Aurealis, but I and the other committee members hop you bask in the glory of your nomination. Or, you know, at least go “Oh. Neat.”

    Feel free to contact the Vermont Department of Libraries if you want to know more! YOU should be getting an email through this site with essentially this same information, because I wasn’t sure which method of contact was the best.

    Congrats on your nomiation!

  56. Will the talented and beautiful actress who in your Rook Files site, played your secretary for the first book be around to lead us into the long awaited Second book?.

    I would look forward to seeing her again and her smooth answer’s of the strangeness that dwells within the office of Myfanwy Thomas.

  57. There appears to be some confusion over the publication date for Stilletto. It was July, then January 2016 and now Amazon are saying July 2020. Hat’s going on?

  58. Hello Daniel

    You are on The List. It is a small and exclusive list, and it features the following people: Scott Lynch, Patrick Rothfuss, George R. R. Martin and China Mieville. What these people have in common is the degree of anticipation they engender in me while I wait for their next book, and the increasingly unreasonable impatience with which I do so.

    I loved The Rook. I waxed evangelical about The Rook. I mentioned it with faux nonchalance to the undergrads I was contractually obliged not to run away from, and who were not at all fooled by the nonchalance; I converted the Reader in Hebrew Studies at the university to fandom. I have been waiting, with increasing surliness, for the second Checquy novel. The fact that the blog post above was written *nearly two years ago* provokes all kinds of questions, not least of which is: fancy writing another explanatory blog post?

    On behalf of your adoring public,

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