Sunday 24 January 2016

Tyger Update!

I had an amazing message from a reader recently.  He asked me some questions that I thought might interest other readers too, so I'm making this blog to answer them.  The questions came from Victor Wang in China – you can read his full comment here.  He says:
"I have always loved your books, ever since Varjak Paw caught me and dragged me into the world of the "kung-fu cats", when I was 10. I could tell that I finally found the right author. Afterwards, I continued with The Outlaw Varjak Paw, then, Phoenix. I remember you recommending me to read Phoenix whilst waiting for your next book to come out. I have indeed read it, and many times, and could read it thousands of times without getting bored, but I just simply can't wait for your next book to pop out!
As you have said, Phoenix is indeed your best book - yet - and I sincerely loved it, it's one of the best books I've ever known... But I've been told Tyger would be even better…  If your best book is yet to come, could you please tell us about it? We'd love to hear more about it, even several sentences about where you are, and how long you think it might still take would please me, and your fans enormously!"
So first of all, I want to say a huge THANK YOU to Victor!  Phoenix took me seven years to write, but all the hard work feels worthwhile when I hear things like that.  I do think Phoenix is the best book I've written so far, and I hope that anyone who's enjoyed Varjak Paw will enjoy it too.  It might sound very different, but it comes from the same place!

I do also think that one day, Tyger will be even better.  The only problem is, I have no idea at all when that day will be!  The reason for this is that with every book, my ambition is to make the book as good as I can possibly make it.  I don't want to look at one of my books in a couple of years, and think, "I wish I'd done that differently!" because you can never change a book once it's published. 

But it takes a lot of time, and lots of trial and error, to make a book as good as you can possibly make it.  You have to get it wrong a lot before you get it right.  That's how my process worked with Varjak Paw, The Outlaw Varjak Paw, and Phoenix – and that's why those books took me 5 years, 3 years, and 7 years respectively.  It's a difficult way to write, but I've always found that it's worth it in the end. 

What I can tell you about Tyger is this.  I've been working on it for 3 years now.  For the first year, it was a single book.  Around a year in, I realised it was part of a trilogy.  At that point, I continued writing the first book, and kept notes about the other two books (there's a picture of my notebook below).  Around two and a half years in, I decided to start writing the second book of the trilogy, and see what happened.  I immediately discovered things that meant almost everything I'd written on the first book would have to change!

I'm currently working on that second book, which I think will now be the first book of the trilogy, while the book I originally started with will probably be the third book.  It's entirely possible, though, that there will only ever be one book – the book I'm writing right now – but that in order to write it, I have to imagine the others... 

If that sounds confusing, that's because it is!  My writing process is often mysterious to me, and that's why I find it hard to talk about.  But I do know that my other books went through similar processes.  So I can only ask my readers to be patient – Tyger will be ready when it's ready!  I've promised to show my agent a draft this year, so I hope to be able to say more about it in the not-too-distant future.  Please do keep checking in here from time to time; I will certainly blog and tweet about it as soon as I have any news!  In the meantime, here's a Tyger who's been keeping me company as I write.  I hope you like him too.

Saturday 23 January 2016

Author Visits: Dundonald Primary

I had the great pleasure of visiting Dundonald Primary School last week, and meeting Years 4, 5 and 6.  We talked about reading and books, and it was inspiring for me to see how excited everyone was about their favourite stories.

Year 4 had been studying Varjak Paw, and they had some fantastic questions about how the book was written.  Years 5 & 6 had some terrific questions for me too, and it was a total pleasure to sign books for everyone at the end – thanks to the brilliant Pea Green Boat booksellers!

We didn't have quite enough time to answer all the questions that everyone had, so if anyone has any more questions they'd like to ask, or would like to say anything about the visit or my books, just leave me a comment in the box below!  In the meantime, here's Dave McKean's amazing Phoenix book trailer for anyone who would like to se it again: