THE REAPERS was sent off last week, accompanied by the usual feelings of relief, concern, fear and, well, general looseendedness. (I am a writer, and therefore I feel free to make up words and impose them upon the language.)
The book is, as I've said here before, a little different from the ones that have gone before it, although I would hope that each book has been a little different from its predecessors. It's lighter in tone, and more straightforward than the usual Parker books, mainly because the action is not seen through his eyes. We learn a lot about Louis, but not very much about Angel. That will probably be another book, written somewhere down the line. I'll probably post a section of the book on the website over the coming weeks. (I know, I know: I'm such a tease . . .) In the meantime, the final UK cover is available to view here.
What happens now? Well, my editors - UK and US - will get back to me at some point to let me know what they think of the book. My UK editor is always the first to respond. She received the book on Wednesday, and I would be surprised if she hasn't already read it, which means her initial comments will probably arrive today or tomorrow. My US editor usually takes a little longer. I think she just likes to keep me on edge. It's a cruel Southern thing.
I always experience a vague sense of unease at this point, a nagging suspicion that the book may not be very good and my editor is, at this very moment, struggling to find a diplomatic way to tell me, one that won't send me off the deep end and have me looking longingly at high cliffs, jars of pills, or razor blades and bathtubs. I don't want to deliver a bad book, and I don't think that I have, but, then again, I'm a very poor judge of my own work. I keep waiting to be caught out, to be branded a fraud. Like a lot of writers, I think, I'm always alert to the knock on the door from someone who has been sent to inform me that a terrible mistake has been made by my publishers and, as I have always suspected, the people who hated my work were right. At that point, my furniture will be seized, my house repossessed, and proceedings set in train to get back all of the money that has been paid to me in error.
I tried to explain some of these fears to my editor when last she was in Dublin. They're pretty constant, although they're not crippling. Nevertheless, they may contribute to the fact that my pleasure at completing and dispatching a novel never lasts very long. Relief is a feeling that dissipates quickly.
So what to do now? Well, I'm hampered slightly by the fact that my house is filled with builders, plumbers and painters, and that no room is actually fit to work in at present. My notes and research books are in boxes, and my desk computer is on the floor of the spare room. The first quarter of the script for THE ERLKING is stored on it, but I don't think I can get to it for a day or two. There's a short story that I quite fancy writing, so I think I'll do that. With luck, I'll be able to start on the next novel in December. It will be a Parker book, I think, although there's an idea for a standalone set in the 19th century that has been nagging at me.
Then again, there's email to check. Maybe my editor will have written to me. That would be good.
Or, perhaps, bad . . .
This week John read:
Fox, Swallow, Scarecrow by Eilis Ni Dhuibhne
and listened to:
The Distant Future by Flight of the Conchords
Chrome Dreams II by Neil Young
Sojourner by Magnolia Electric Company