Wednesday, December 20, 2006


So I am in a rare pause, when I am not actively writing anything.

And yet… does a writer’s mind ever switch off entirely? Not mine, not really. I was at a concert last night – Holly Cole, a jazz singer, not my usual stuff but very good – and I suddenly saw part of a scene in the next novel I plan to write. Plus another scene in a modern day thriller that I may write, a screenplay about runes. Then, walking today, I started organising the ideas a little more in my head.

I have to start work on Novel Number Nine soon after Christmas. I have to deliver it in about a year, and this is a biggie. Have I blogged about it yet? Well, I have been commissioned to write a novel based on the ‘real’ Dracula – Vlad Tepes of Romania. Vlad the Impaler as he was not so fondly known due to his delight in killing people by impalement. I won’t go into the details, don’t want to keep any of you up late. But this is one of history’s great slaughterers. And yet the brief is to make him… fascinating. Mysterious. Probably sexy. A man of the night. The originator of all that Dracula, the Vampire Count, certainly can be.

I have already begun, in one way. I wrote a treatment for my publisher earlier this year to win the commission. But that was a mere sketch. Now I must paint the picture.

I fantasise that I could use six months pure musing. I dream of time without pressure. Yet, my first uncommissioned novel aside, I have always written under pressure. Maybe its absence would stall me? Deadlines annoy – but they do draw me inexorably toward them. People say, You must be very disciplined. I suppose I am. But my reply is always the same: I have to be; no one is going to write my books for me.

So, this is the early stage. I am not really sure yet what kind of story I am going to write. I am not sure what kind of man I am going to portray. I also have a heap of research to do, journeys to take – I am already looking at tickets for Transylvania and Istanbul in April – but already I am seeing the glimmerings. A scene. A sentence. An image. Its something to do with falcons…

The first chip of the chisel on rough stone.

Monday, December 11, 2006


I have emerged. ‘Ragnarok’, Book Three of The Runestone Saga, has been Fedexed off to Knopf, my publishers, in New York. It required me to check into a hotel for three nights so I could bury my head in words. (Strange, staying in a hotel in the city you live in. I highly recommend it!). And there was a fair bit of rewriting, as I tried to sort out not just the end of a novel but the end of a trilogy. ‘Tis a long road my protagonist, Sky, has gone through. From naïve schoolboy to Norse God. (No, you’ll just have to wait and see.)

Mixed feelings too – euphoria followed by depression. Its always a hard moment, letting someone else into the world that's mine alone. Of course, the people who read it now I totally trust – my wife, agent and editor. All smart people, always with good advice. But… I think it’s one reason people don’t finish things. You submit, to other people’s opinions, your fragile creation. A necessary ending and beginning, but…

Couple of other things of note. My latest adult fiction, ‘Absolute Honour’ got a very nice review in Canada’s National Post – just in time for Christmas if anyone’s short a stocking stuffer! And I gave a talk at a school last week. Getting there was hard though – major snow all over Vancouver and poor directions. I was lost, and wandering and I asked three City workmen who were clearing snow if they knew where the school was. ‘Sure, we were there yesterday. Hop in!’ So I arrived at my talk in a snow truck! Ah, the glamorous life of the author!

The students were great. Grade 8, seemed to like the book, and asked very good questions. I think its hard to get anyone to admit they were scared by it, but a couple did, kinda. But if there’s anyone out there reading this who had to put it outside the room to sleep, I’d be very happy to hear.

Oh – I’ve been nominated for a Cybill - it’s an online Teen Lit Blog. Not sure what it all means but it’s a delight that some people are enjoying the book. And I’d be even happier to win. ‘Members of the Academy…’

I shall try to blog more, now the book’s gone off. In the week or so respite I have before I start my next one, that is!