Cover Art for Red Country by Joe Abercrombie (UK)

Map by Dave Senior and Daggers by Didier Graffetaption

From the horse’s mouth to your ears:

I’ve got a contract for three more books in the First Law world, and those will be a trilogy, and I have some rough ideas about what the content and characters might be.

Yippee. But, we already knew that, didn’t we? For about two years. In a recent ‘guest post’ (to use the term loosely, it was more of an open letter to his fans on his publisher’s website), Abercrombie addressed this trilogy, and some of the complications he’s been facing in writing it. He further describes those ideas about content and characters for the trilogy as ‘very rough.’ With his previous projects, Abercrombie has finished each book with a good idea of what was coming next, so that he was well into the writing of it by the time his previous book was published. He explains, however, that Red Country was a difficult book to write.

He says,

Red Country was pretty draining. Not that I’m not totally delighted with the results because, you know, brilliant book and all that, but I found it hard work. Felt burned out at times. Felt like I was having to reach a long way for new ideas, new ways of doing things. It was not, at all times, a joyous process. So now seems a good time to take a break, do some reading, do some thinking, recharge the creative batteries.

Since publishing his first novel, Abercrombie has written and published his subsequent five novels in a fairly rapid succession. Publishing once a year isn’t unheard of (in fact, some people would tell you that it’s essential for a mid-list author who wants to make even a portion of a living off their writing), but his novels are both large is scope, page count and emotionally draining subject matter. It’s fair to believe that some recharging of the batteries will be good for both Abercrombie and this trilogy, and good for his fans in the long term.

Abercrombie then describes his plans for the trilogy, which includes writing all three novels before turning them into his publisher. It’s a bold decision for an established author, but Orbit, Abercrombie’s North American publisher, has shown in the past that they’ve been able to successfully launch completed trilogies over the course of a few months. N.K. Jemisin recently released her two book set, Dreamblood, a month apart. Abercrombie explains,

I also have a crazy notion that I’d like to draft the whole trilogy first, then fine tune and edit each book in turn for publication. That will hopefully mean a) that the trilogy can be as coherent and cohesive as possible, since there’ll be no rush to publish the start without really knowing all the details of the end, and b) that the three books can be published on whatever well-prepared schedule seems best rather than being fumbled out arbitrarily which will c) ideally be the best thing both creatively and commercially.

In all, fans might clamour to get to Abercrombie’s novels more quickly, and certainly it doesn’t sound like we’ll see a new novel from him until 2015 at the earliest, but, at the end of the day, I’m sure we can all agree that the trilogy will stand by its overall quality once its all published, and if that requires time, so be it. You can read more of Abercrombie’s thoughts on the Gollancz blog.

  • Doug M. January 31, 2013 at 3:46 pm

    Never thought that I’d be one to say something like this, but… take your time, Joe. It’s the perfect opportunity to do so. There are no arcs currently screaming for closure (sure, some are mewling a bit, maybe). We’ve had a good run in your First Law world. I don’t necessarily want the door to be closed and bolted on that world, but I’d still be fairly content if it did.

    So kick back. Relax. Recharge. Later on, if you feel you’re ready to dive back in it… go for it. And if something completely different than the planned trilogy should happen to bubble out beforehand; that’s OK too — we’ll still be here. You had us at “The End.” ;)

  • Tom Lloyd February 1, 2013 at 1:45 am

    rather than a bold decision by his publisher, I think it’s more a testament to his current success! I’d had a similar thought a while back, in that there was a series idea that would require publication close together, but I don’t have the sales to support the three years gap it would impose. Once you have the critical mass of sales under your belt the fanbase will wait for you (as Rothfuss & Lynch can testify!) so Joe gets to enjoy writing his books the way they should be written – all too often not the case.

  • Joshua H. March 25, 2014 at 9:16 pm

    I count the days to read more about logan nine fingers and the battle of the mages, all of the charactors are great. Best books I ever read, First Law Trilogy. Hope he writesat 9 to 12 more books on this. I’ll buy them all and so will the rest of the fans. Hope to see it on tv, toppling the number of viewers that watch Game of Thrones. Because this series of books is so much grittier, realistic, grabbing you by your chest, in your face thrilling.