I've been doing this for a while now with posts to celebrate my first book, Prince of Thorns, turning 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80 and now 90 ... as in 90,000 ratings on Goodreads.
This time the milestone has fallen just after the release of Road Brothers in paperback.
Here we see the hardback cover from the late, great Kim Kincaid, the ebook cover from Pen Astridge, and the paperback cover from Jason Chan.
And since the 80,000 post I've also had two new releases. Dispel Illusion closed the Impossible Times trilogy, and The Girl And The Stars opened a new trilogy set on Abeth, the world of the Book of the Ancestor trilogy. You should buy those!
So, what exciting topic shall I broach for the 90K milestone?
Let's talk about the future since inevitably our gaze is drawn to the 100,000 horizon and the 10th anniversary of Prince of Thorns next year.
I never had any ambition to be a fantasy author - I've said that before and it's true. It's taken me a long time to think of myself as a writer, even after being published. I didn't intend to be defined by it or to define myself by it, but slowly it's crept up on me, accelerating in 2015 after the advanced research department I worked in closed down.
I've always had a slight fascination with what happens to people "after". All those pop stars I watched in the 70s & 80s ... for every Rolling Stones and David Bowie there were hundreds of flash-in-the-pans, hundreds of 1 to 5 year careers. And then you're an ex pop star at 25 or 31 and ... what next?
When I wrote The Broken Empire I expected that I wouldn't be published again. That's the career path for most authors. A book deal, disappointing sales, goodbye. And I chose to end Jorg's story after 3 books - yes I had a 3-book deal but those books sold very well. My publishers would have snatched a sequel from my hands. But I've always been keen not to outstay my welcome.
At the end of Emperor of Thorns it says:
"I wanted you to part company with Jorg on a high. I would rather readers finish book 3 wanting more than wander away after book 6 feeling they have had more than enough."
I've written 16+ books in 9 years and I'm starting to feel, as Bilbo so eloquently put it, like butter scraped over too much bread. It's been a tumultuous year for all of us with blows coming from many directions. And it's set me wondering - when to quit - what to do instead - what would I be without writing? I don't like how writing has pushed my other interests and hobbies off the table. Nine years have been dominated by the singular thought that this won't last and that I should make the most of it while the spotlight lingers. But the spotlight has continued to linger and frankly I could use some shade.
So, the remaining instalments of the Book of the Ice, which are already written, will come out in 2021 and 2022 to complete the trilogy. But I'm thinking of slowing down, broadening my interests, trying new things.
I've never been a planner. I don't plan my books. I don't plan my life. But this is how I'm feeling now. Maybe it's all nonsense and I'll keep hitting you with a book a year until I'm old(er) and grey(er). Or maybe I'll spend the next ten years doing other stuff while writing a literary fiction novel at night that will get turned down by every publisher in the land and ultimately be self-published to an audience of crickets.
That's the joy of life. You never can tell what's round the next corner.
Stay safe, everyone, and happy reading!
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