Richard Morgan has some news about the sequel to his popular novel, The Steel Remains and not all of it’s good. It is, however, interesting to hear the honesty behind some of the stumbling blocks he’s faced along the way.

From Morgan’s web site:

Yes – some of you will probably have already noticed that The Cold Commands has surreptitiously changed its name to The Dark Commands, and is also now showing a UK publication date in mid-2010.

Sad but true. On both counts.

The title change alone is a big disappointment for me – I loved the alliteration of the thing (my London editor’s idea, curse him, not mine), and the thematic implications. But unfortunately, the way the narrative is unfolding there’s nothing remotely cold about any of it; worse still, there are a number of components that have fairly demolished any hope of using any title containing the word cold.

Dark, on the other hand….. Well – you know me by now.

The Steel Remains by Richard Morgan

The Cold Commands is a pretty cool title, I’ll admit, but it’s interesting to get a little peak into the marketing behind novels. Clearly Morgan and his editor came up with a cool title (hah, no pun intended!) before the actual novel was written. I know Terry Brooks (who writes about on the complete opposite end of the fantasy spectrum as Morgan) doesn’t reveal the title until the writing of the novel is well underway.

I’m also pretty pissed off – with myself – about the publication push-back, but there’s not a lot to be done about that either. Basically, I’ve spent the last year trying to kick start the second narrative for Ringil and Co, and the process has been fascinating and frustrating in about equal measures.

See, I’d always talked a good fight about making each book in this trilogy a self contained novel, but it wasn’t until quite recently that I realised how deeply satisfied I was with the ending of The Steel Remains. Sure, there are loose ends, but when wasn’t that true of one of my books? But my characters all ended up where I wanted them to be, they bedded down into the consequences and outcomes of what they’d seen and done with the pleasing clunk of emotional deadbolts falling into place – so rolling them all out of bed again, splashing water on their faces and getting them to open up and let in the morning light has proved a lot more problematic than I’d expected. I started at least twice and then had to tear up what I’d written because it was some weak-assed shit. Worse still, when I did finally get onto what felt like the right track, it involved at least a couple of scenes that I really didn’t want to write. If you guys thought The Steel Remains was brutal, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

And won’t see it for a while yet, either. Sorry about that.

I’m all for stand alone novels, especially when they weave into a larger narrative – similar to the early Terry Brooks Shannara novels or what David Anthony Durham seems to be doing with his Acacia novels. It’s interesting to hear how Morgan has struggled with this concept of having to pull his characters back out of a neat ending and into the fray to tell a story again.

Morgan has worked in this type of storytelling before (with his Takeshi Kovacs) novels, so I’d be curious to find out what the difference between the two are and what he learned from his earlier works that is helping him out now.

You can read the whole of Morgan’s blog post HERE.

  • Alexander Field March 9, 2009 at 8:24 pm

    Thanks for posting this interesting look into the titling/marketing of the new book from Morgan. And I haven’t seen that cover before for The Steel Remains. That’s killer! : ) Thanks again.

  • Patrick March 15, 2009 at 1:52 pm

    Where is that cover from? I want it…

  • Whitney July 25, 2010 at 4:29 pm

    My copy of the book has that cover… I didn’t know there was another one.