The story so far, and where to go from here...

6 June 2012

What next? Ah... It was only after Cold Comfort had been out for a while that my British publisher took the plunge and decided that they too wanted to see more of Gunnhildur after all, but only one this time. So there’s a contract signed for one more Gunna. No idea yet if the US publisher will want it. Somehow my guts say they won’t, but we’ll see.

Cold Comfort has been on the shelves for a few months now. It’s been pretty well received; gratifyingly so, not least with that truly excellent review in the Times, no less. The Dutch version of Cold Comfort, Schrale Troost, and the German translation, Kalter Trost, will be on the shelves in July and hopefully German and Dutch crime fans will be stocking up for their summers in Spain or on sandy beaches in Travemünde or Scheveningen – or even taking the roughly equal chance of driving rain or blazing sunshine in Iceland?

Anyway, I had already been writing the third Gunna story, Chilled to the Bone, in fits and starts for a long time. It’s not actually a healthy way to write a book, tinkering with little bits for an hour here and and an evening there, but that’s what’s available between the demands of Winch Monthly and so much else.

Anyhow, when C&R said they were interested, it was 90% written and a draft was hurriedly rattled of and sent off to my editor.

She didn’t like it. ‘It’s a little vanilla...’

Cue a sharp intake of breath on my part. But deep inside, I think I’d known she was right. My editor is as sharp as a knife and if she says it’s vanilla, then it could make fine ice cream, but isn’t going to keep the pages turning.

The choice was pretty stark; a rewrite on a colossal scale with all the threads unpicked woven back together, or start on a new one. I already had the bones of a fourth story ready and a couple of initial chapters that I’d been itching to get to grips with, while carefully not taking it any further until CttB was finished. It didn’t take long to reach a decision, and what was going to be book 3 has been retired. I’m hammering away at something else. The setting is Reykjavík again, in the dead of winter during that nervous time of year leading up to the arrival of the first post-Christmas credit card bill.

A man is found dead in embarrassing circumstances in one of Reykjavík’s smarter hotels. Gunna isn’t convinced there’s foul play there, but all the same, something smells wrong. The man can’t have died peacefully and alone in his sleep, as he clearly didn’t tie himself up with those burgundy red silk scarves. As she digs, a few unpleasant truths come to light, and disturbingly, it seems that someone else is shadowing her investigation. And what about the official who lost his laptop? And where do those murdered asylum seekers come into it? Half-way through so far and I’m starting to get excited now.

It shows how having to work to a tight deadline works wonders for the imagination, for this writer at least. Oh, and I’ve had to buy a domain name as part of all this, but more of that later...

The next book still has the Chilled to the Bone title. I like it and as the setting is in the dead of winter, there’s no reason not to stick with it.

On the other hand, there are still a hundred thousand words that aren’t up to scratch sitting in a lump on my hard drive demanding that they don’t just get turned into compost. So I’m wondering what to do with them. The new Chilled to the Bone needs to be finished by July, which is (terrifyingly) next month. Seven weeks to write half a book.

Once it’s done, it’s tempting to take the slab of words that aren’t otherwise going anywhere and distill it into a Gunnhildur novella that could be a ‘value’ (which means ‘cheap’) pre-Christmas e-book. I like the idea. So let’s watch this space and we’ll see what happens.

But first there’s a book to finish.

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