I'm delighted to announce that, largely thanks to the efforts of my indefatigable publicist Sophie, the date for my book launch has been finalised.
An Interview with Tim Stretton by Greg Mosse
to mark the launch of The Dog of the North
To be followed by a reading and book-signing
Date: 15 July 2008, 7-30pm
Tickets: £3, redeemable against the price of the book
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I am, of course, focusing my attention on The Last Free City to the exlcusion of everything else at the moment, so it seems odd to be drawn back into The Dog of the North. It's also unsettling: The Dog of the North is a polished and finished piece of fiction, while TLFC is 65,000 words of a ratty first draft: the gulf in quality at this stage is alarming. I tell myself--every day, in fact--that I'm still "finding the story", but it's still an unnerving experience to look back at a complete piece of work that I'm very pleased with (having forgotten all the little errors which are still there) and compare it to what I'm writing now.
The Last Free City will be taking a break for a week or so. I hate stopping in mid-draft, but I am away on holiday for a week, in what will be a strictly no-writing environment. I've reached a good break-point: a second climax, which finds the protagonist in dire straits. He has his life, and not much else. How can he recover? (Err...I'll come back to you on that one...).
The next section of the novel will have a different location, so I can spend the next week mulling that over. I also have a wider narrative question to address. The story is told exclusively through one character's perceptions, and I will need at some point to decide whether to add a second voice, both to relieve any monotony, and to convey information that the protagonist does not have. I have two potential secondary viewpoint characters, and once I've finished the main story I'll decide whether it's worth interleaving their perspectives on the action.
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Last week I touched on the highly-regarded British fantasist Joe Abercrombie, who on paper looked to be the kind of writer I would enjoy. I picked up his first novel The Blade Itself on Sunday (like I don't have enough to read...), even paying full price in Waterstones for the book. (And I never pay full price, except for MNW books).
The stage is set for crushing anti-climax. A hyped new writer, who ticks all the right boxes, has all the right influences, and the right attitude to epic fantasy. Everyone here understands narrative structures - the only one that fits here is that the book will stink, probably so badly that Environmental Health will be called and my house fumigated.
But no! I've read seventy pages, and it's absolutely brilliant... fresh, vigorous characterisation and a cruel black humour. This is going to be great. Abercrombie has the grimness of GRR Martin with a touch of the mordant Vance wit. His viewpoint characters are so clearly realised that it makes me want to burn The Last Free City, until I remember that it's backed up in a million places and can't be destroyed...
Abercrombie is a real talent. I can't remember enjoying a debut novel so much for years. He understands the tropes of the fantasy genre and is able to subvert them in a way which is both invigorating and respectful of the genre. There isn't--yet--a great deal of plot, but the characters are so compelling that it doesn't matter.
He also has a highly entertaining blog which mixes pleasingly ironic self-aggrandisement (at least I assume it's ironic...) with some perceptive observations on writing in the fantasy genre. Joe, if you're reading this: 4.995 stars for The Blade Itself so far...
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::Acquired Taste will return in a week or so.