High-res I just finished typing the last words of the first draft of the next Dagny Gray book, which is tentatively titled Borderline Insanity.  Right now, it’s about 130,000 words and 72 chapters.  Both numbers will change in subsequent drafts.  
I’m relieved to have the complete story down, and I think it’s a good one.  Now I can just focus on making it all better. 

I just finished typing the last words of the first draft of the next Dagny Gray book, which is tentatively titled Borderline Insanity.  Right now, it’s about 130,000 words and 72 chapters.  Both numbers will change in subsequent drafts.  

I’m relieved to have the complete story down, and I think it’s a good one.  Now I can just focus on making it all better. 

I'm an attorney and lover of mysteries. I really enjoyed the book, especially your main character. I can see a lot of opportunity for growth in future novels and am looking forward to the next one!

Asked by Anonymous

Thanks so much!  I really appreciate it.  There is nothing better than hearing from people who liked the book.

The next Dagny Gray is coming along.  Sometime down the line, I’d like to write a legal thriller about the lawyer in The Bubble Gum Thief, Percy Reynolds, and maybe another book starring Cecil Rowanhouse.  I’ve always like the way Greg Iles’ populated the city of Natchez with multiple characters capable of carrying a story, so I’ve tried to  lay some groundwork that would let me do the same.  

Dagny was a freshman at Rice. Do you have any connection with Rice? Enjoying the book ...

Asked by Anonymous

When I was 19, I was a second-year student at the University of Virginia.  My long-distance girlfriend attended Rice, as well as one of my best friends from high school, and I went to visit them at the university over my spring break.  I really liked the school—it seemed like a much better fit for me than UVA, probably because Rice was the right amount of nerdy for me.  I thought it might be the right amount of nerdy for Dagny too.  

As I mentioned, I’m hard at work on the next book.  Most of it will take place in a small town in Ohio, but part of it happens in places pretty far from there.  Here’s a taste of where I am today.  Thank goodness for Google Street View, which lets me travel there for free.  

Hollow World

My friend, Michael J. Sullivan, has become known as a fantastic fantasy writer as a result of The Riyria Revelations series.  He was also a great contributor to my First Page Project (which I need to revive).

Michael read a copy of The Bubble Gum Thief before it was published, and he gave me some great ideas about changes that made it better.  Then Michael honored me by asking if I’d give him thoughts on his new sci-fi novel, Hollow World, when it was still in a draft stage.  It’s a vivid depiction of a kind of future society, and a truly great story.  But it’s also a thoughtful attempt to grapple with issues of interconnectedness and technology, and that’s what I liked best about it.  Michael’s fantasy work harkens back to the classical era of fantasy books, so it’s not much of a surprise that Hollow World harkens back tonally to the days of Asimov or Bradbury, even while addressing concerns of our day.   I don’t usually read science fiction, but Hollow World made me want to. 

Hollow World is out now.  You can buy it here.

image

Progress on the Sequel

Very nice people have asked how the next Dagny Gray book is coming along. So far, I’ve written about 108,000 words. That’s a lot of words. The Bubble Gum Thief is about 116,000 words. So what I’ve written is almost as long as The Bubble Gum Thief.

Although I’ve written a lot of words, that doesn’t mean I’m almost done. There’s still about a fourth of the story to tell. Then I’ll have to cut and revise considerably. Some things I love will have to go because they aren’t serving the story, not matter how much I love them. There will be problems to fix—temporal problems, character problems, tone and timing problems. Jokes will need to be fine-tuned. Scary moments will need to be more frightening. Emotional moments will need to ring more true. I will spend hours laboring over single sentences, only to cut them in subsequent drafts. At some point, I’ll question whether I have any business writing a novel. Editing is just as hard as writing; maybe harder.

A lot of writers spend many years on their first book, and just one year on their second. As a result, a lot of second books disappoint. I want my second book to be better than my first, so I won’t let it out until I think it is. I owe that much to my readers, and to Dagny.

The tentative title of the second book is Borderline, or Borderline Insanity, or Borderline Insane. I haven’t quited decided. Feel free to let me know what you think sounds best.