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October – December 2010

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October 1-6


The Grasping
is out this month but I have no promotional activities
whatsoever, so I can simply admire the books whenever I pass
them and get on with my work.

The series has been getting good reviews:

funniest horror story you’ll read in a long while – Ian Irvine
is a master of fantasy and this is the best yet.” Good

Headless Highwayman
is the first book in the Grim
and Grimmer
series from fantasy genius Ian Irvine, who
manages to create a world which is believable, thrilling and
funny all rolled into one.”

written in an energetic, descriptive style. An extraordinary fantasy
world. Fast and furious and very funny.” Reading

has great fun creating his world … Funny and fast-paced, Ike’s
story reads briskly, leaved with a little horror and a dash of
scatological humour. A fun adventure for upper-primary readers.
Recommended.” Bookseller and Publisher.

Grasping Goblin
takes the two reluctant heroes on a very
wild ride … very funny too, as well as dangerous, gory and grotty.
A grand adventure.”

Fantasy genius? I blush.

I’m still working furiously on Vengeance,
Book 1 of The Tainted Realm, which seems to have gone on forever – and
has. A while back I came to the view that the worldbuilding of
the underground realm of Cython wasn’t sufficiently original or
different, so I’ve spent a good month redoing this (and gaining
new insights into the world) and now I’m very happy with how it
goes. Here’s a revised series blurb:

remote island nation of Cythe was brutally colonised two thousand
years ago by the Hightspallers, but their realm is forever tainted
by the means they used to seize the land. Cythe’s history, art
and culture were erased and its clever native people were reduced
to despicable degradoes,
on the verge of extinction when, inexplicably, they vanished.

fifteen hundred years they have lived underground in Cython, served
by their Pale slaves, the descendants of noble Hightspaller children
once given as hostages to Cython but never ransomed. For all this
time, life in Cython have been shaped by the alchymical books called
the Solaces, sorcerously bestowed upon them by an unknown benefactor.

Hightspall is struggling under the weight of one natural disaster
after another; its people feel that the very land is rising up
against them. And when the last of the Solaces appears – the
cast iron book called The Consolation
of Vengeance
– the Cythonians know it is time to take
back their land.

a Pale slave who has just come of age, is the one person who can
prevent Hightspall from running with blood. But Tali’s four female
ancestors were killed in the same brutal way and she knows she’s
next to die. The creator of the Solaces is now hunting her and
what she bears within her is vital to his plan for vengeance.

survive and gain the justice she craves, Tali must escape Cython,
though no slave ever has. To beat her family’s enemy, she has to
learn how to use the unique, unruly magery hidden inside her – yet
the only person who can teach her is the killer himself.

she unravels the aeons-long conspiracy behind the killings, Tali’s
quest for justice turns to a lust for vengeance. But how can she
avenge herself on a killer who died two thousand years ago?

Just received the final cover for The
Desperate Dwarf
, and I love it. Martin McKenna has captured
Con Glomryt’s smirking con-dwarf manner perfectly.


The Desperate Dwarf cover


I’m now providing suggestions for the cover
brief for Book 4 – The Calamitous
– though it’s going to be hard to top this one.

Saw Legend
of the Guardians
, the fantasy movie about owls that our
oldest son Simon worked on for 20 months at Animal Logic.

The critics were right about it – lovely
animation, some truly beautiful scenes, let down by a story straight
from The Hero’s Journey.
Still, the animators can’t be blamed for that.


October 7 –
22 – Revisions to The Desperate


These are due now and, though I like the book
a lot, there’s also a lot more I can do with it. I do another very
hard draft, a week and a half’s worth, followed by a quick tidying-up
draft and send it off. It’s now over 47,000 words and we’re working
to 40-44k for each book in the series, but I’ll attack that issue
at the final correx stage next month.

This year has been a nightmare, far too many
deadlines, and I’m now desperate to get back to Vengeance,
but my editor has been pressing me for the final book of Grim and
Grimmer, The Calamitous Queen.
It’s coming out next May but they want to have the initial edit
done before everything closes down for the Xmas holidays, which
means they need it by late October (clearly, impossible!) or a
tad after that. And I haven’t even put the first word on paper.
Extreme measures are called for.


October 28 – November 10, The
Calamitous Queen


Fortunately I don’t have any consulting deadlines
in the next few weeks so I psych myself up for an heroic effort – the
kind that begins at 5 am and goes till late every day. First I
do a very detailed plot outline, complete with snatches of conversation
etc. This really helps because I can see where the work isn’t up
to scratch or not original enough, and change it before I begin.
I do four or five drafts of the outline before I start writing,
really pushing as hard as I can. I don’t normally reveal my work
in such detail, but since it’s such a crisis …


Detailed Plot outline (11,500 words) 23-28 Oct 6 days
Draft 1 Day 1 29 Oct 6,014 words
  Day 2 30 Oct 8,000 words
  Day 3 31 Oct 8,500 words
  Day 4 (also had some office work) 1 Nov 4,000 words
  Day 5 2 Nov 8,000 words
  Day 6 3 Nov 9,100 words
  Day 7 4 Nov 3,100 words
Total Draft 1   46,696 words
Draft 2 5 Nov to 8 Nov   47,996 words
Draft 3 8 Nov to 10 Nov   49,700 words
Read-through then delivered on November 10


Don’t get the wrong impression – I’m
not incredibly productive, year on year. This is something I can
only do when it’s an emergency and it would never work for the
first book in a series, but sometimes it can for the last, when
I know the characters, the story and the world really well. But
also, it has to be said, when I do have a great outline and can
write the book really fast, it’s usually a better book than the
ones I agonise over for months or years, stopping and starting.
Perhaps because I’m fully in the zone of the story the whole time.

It’s gone to my editor now so, fingers crossed

Shock! Horror! My astonished editor says she
wasn’t expecting to see it till the New Year.

But still, it’s done, and my relief is palpable.
Now, apart from a couple of weeks’ editing and the proofing, my
work on Grim and Grimmer is done and for the next year I’ll be
working solely on The Tainted Realm.
It’ll be the first time I’ve only been working on one series for
one publisher since the year 2000.

And yet, it’s not without a tear that I say
goodbye to Grim and Grimmer,
the most fun I’ve ever had. And How much I learned about writing,
and writing humour, and creating great and wacky characters – and
maintaining suspense. Sigh!


The Rest of November


I’m back to Vengeance at
last, but still with interruptions. A quick trip to Melbourne to
do some pollution sampling, and then the final edited mss of The
Desperate Dwarf
appears on the 17th and I have
to drop everything and get it done in a few days (because I delivered
the edits late!).

But this comes with some very nice news. My
editor loved The Calamitous Queen.

Spend 5 hard days on the final edits of Dwarf (I
always make about 10 changes at this stage for every one my editor
wants (must be very frustrating for them)). Once done, I go through
the mss twice, cutting every surplus word, phrase, sentence and
paragraph I can, and at the end have cut 4,350 words or 10%, which
brings it within the word limit and also tightens and clarifies
the book tremendously.

The proofs turn up a few days later and suddenly
the Dwarf is out of my hands
forever. I’ll miss it.

Now my daughter Fiona delivers the social media
book promotional plan she’s been working on for quite some time,
and it’s fantastic. I’ve been thinking for ages that I needed to
be doing more with Facebook and other social sites on the net,
but am too overworked to do it myself. Fortunately Fiona does this
kind of thing in her job.

There’s one problem, of course – I have
to provide the content …

Nice review of the Audiobook edition of A
Shadow on the Glass
(beautifully read by Grant Cartwright)





Not a huge lot to say about this month. I
had a reprieve of sorts – a week of consulting work I was
to do in Brisbane has been put back to next year so I can just
write, write, write on Vengeance.

In my spare time, I’m also working steadily
through the huge amount of content I need to write or update for
my Facebook page, and also for my website which is undergoing a
major redesign and updating, with many pages of new content.

And finally, on December 17th, it
goes up.

On December 23 I deliver close to half of Vengeance to
my publisher in Sydney, for book design purposes. This section
of the book, I feel, is in good shape now, though there’s still
a deal of work to do on the rest.

It’s almost time to put a close on one of the
busiest years of my life. I’m having a nice wind down with family
over the Xmas – New Year break, though I’m also working with
Fiona on the Facebook site, putting in blurbs and cover images
and my enormous FAQ file, and recording book readings. You can
hear the first of these by clicking on the links from the FB book




To end the year, nice reviews of the Tower
on the Rift
and Dark is
the Moon
audiobooks, and A
Shadow on the Glass
scores a listing in’s
BEST OF THE BEST Audiobooks for 2010.

I was going to record some video interviews
as well but will have to leave that till next year.

Gave myself the first Phryne Fisher omnibus
for Xmas (haven’t read Kerry Greenwood for ages) and I’m enjoying
relaxing with some terrific reads quite unrelated to fantasy.



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