I'm embarrassingly aware of the length of time it's been since I updated this blog. It isn't because I've forgotten about it, or even - alas - because I'm so busy on a new book that I just haven't managed to find the time. No, unfortunately, it's the outside world that's been getting in the way, and it's caused a radical revision of my plans.
I work several part-time and casual jobs - because my health and my lifelong intolerance for stupid bosses have made me pretty much unemployable in any other form - and one of them has a nasty tendency to get out of hand from time to time and demand energy and intelligence that I don't usually have to spare. I'm sorry to say that this is a job I'm not really in a position to give up or change, either, so when the worst happens I just have to grit my teeth and hang on. If it happens when I'm in the early stages of a new book, though, it's a perfect storm, and that's what it was this time. I emerged from the latest crisis a couple of weeks ago to take a good, long look at BOUNDARIES and admit to myself what I'd been trying for months to pretend wasn't the case - that it would be a much bigger book than I was going to have time to write without losing my present deadline.
That was why I carefully piled all my research notes back into the folder, wrote a synopsis of the next set of plot developments, and reluctantly returned the file to the shelf in favour of something which I know will be a less substantial book but which can easily be ready to be published in February 2014. I should say that I almost always have several books in the preparation stages at any given time, and I'm usually gathering material for more than one, and sometimes writing one and preparing the next simultaneously - but not, I'm afraid, when one of my other part-time jobs gets in the way, as it has this summer.
So, anyway, now we're going to talk about OFF THE GRID, in which Rupert - a chef - returns to the UK after three years in Australia during which his hoped-for new life on the other side of the world has crumbled to dust around him. Fortunately he's still got plenty of friends, though, and a good chef will never lack for employment - but he gets obsessed with finding out what's happened to Jake, who used to sell him vegetables on the local market. Jake, it seems, has gone off the grid and is now running his family's organic smallholding in the Wye Valley - and when Rupert goes looking for him he finds himself getting caught up in a very nasty little local war in which both property and lives are very much at stake.
Barring any more crises, or unpleasant developments in any of my other part-time occupations, it should be possible to have the first draft of OFF THE GRID finished in three months, leaving plenty of time over Christmas and the New Year for revisions. It's supposed to be in its final form by 1 January, but luckily Manifold Press are usually able to be reasonably flexible about that sort of thing and can 'temper the wind to the shorn lamb' if necessary. One thing's for sure, though - BOUNDARIES could only have been ready on that timetable if I'd written three times as fast as I've ever written before, and for a sustained period; since this didn't look likely to happen, I've decided to take the pragmatic view and change direction while I still can. I hate doing it, it feels like failure, but it really is the most sensible course.
I really, really don't like having to be sensible, though.