Once, I fondly believed that writing a series of books would mean that I would write one book, publish it, then forget all about it so that I could settle down to write the second.
Strangely enough, it hasn’t worked out like that at all.
The first Springer book, Five and a Half Tons, is published and in the bookshops. It’s received some wonderful reviews, and has also been nominated for the CWA John Creasey Dagger for Best First Novel. It’s in the lap of the gods whether or not it gets shortlisted, and even if it doesn’t there may be interviews to deal with, promotional events to get involved with, so on and so forth…
The second book, A Fistful of Seaweed, has been delivered to my publisher and editing will start soon—I need to wait my turn until he’s finished with some of the other highly talented authors that are currently published by Holland House Books. At the moment, the schedule is to publish some time in the second half of 2014.
The third book (it has a working title that may change before publication, so I won’t share it here) was, I thought, finished too—all but crossing a few ‘tees’ and dotting a few ‘eyes’. I did need to make a few small changes, however—based on the fact that I decided (rather late in the day) to set the novel in January 1963, which was one of the worst winters in the UK for decades. However, those few small changes avalanched (pun intended) into much bigger changes and at the moment I am re-writing the ending. Completely re-writing the ending, in the sense that I have deleted more than ten thousand words from the original manuscript and I am starting over with a completely blank page. The identity of the perpetrator won’t change (although that is not completely guaranteed) but how he is unmasked is still a mystery to me, let alone Springer. As I write this I have left Springer trudging around in ankle-deep snow, looking for a piece of wire from which to fashion an improvised lock-pick. When I’ve finished writing this I really ought to go back and give him a hand.
The fourth book in the series already exists too, largely as a collection of scenes and episodes that loosely hang together around the themes of shady dealings in the world of Indian restaurants and secretive, high stakes poker games. At some point all this needs to be put together to form something like a coherent story (or what passes for coherent in Springer’s world). It also needs a solution to the mystery, because although I have a crime and several suspects, just at the moment I have even less idea than Springer who the actual villain is.
To cap it all, last night I was lying awake thinking about the opening of a new Springer story, one which (if all goes to plan) should be the fifth book in the sequence. I could tell you all about it, but too many spoilers in one blog post is not good for the digestion. Let’s just say this one is Springer’s answer to the classic locked room mystery.
Nor will I mention the fact that I have two other novels at the Work in Progress stage, too. Neither of them are anything to do with Springer, but I do tinker with them from time to time and one of them is definitely threatening to dominate my attention, if I allowed it to do so.
So how many different novels am I having to deal with now? Er… Hang on a minute: I seem to have run out of fingers…