This week, I have spent a very happy couple of days revisiting a novel that the husband and I wrote back in 1999.
It was “Gilead’s Blood”, one of the early projects that we undertook for the Black Library, and it is due to be reissued when its sequel “Gilead’s Curse” is published in 2013.
I can’t believe it will be fourteen years between the first of these books and the second, especially since fans have been asking for another book about our favourite elf almost since “Blood” was written, and I can’t believe it was the first piece of long-form fiction that the husband and I collaborated on.
I also can’t believe how far we’ve come in those fourteen years.
I’ve always had a soft spot for this book. I loved working on it with the husband, and I always liked the slightly stroppy central character. I liked the episodic nature of the narrative, and I liked that the story seemed to go down so well with a relatively untested audience. It always rather felt like the beginning of something. I also liked that it was Warhammer, and therefore Fantasy rather than 40K, not least because the husband has written a very good deal of 40K (it’s probably what he’s best known for), but he’s only written a handful of Warhammer novels.
So, I’ve spent the past few days preparing “Gilead’s Blood” for publication, or re-publication. I’m happy to say that it’s really rather good. I think it holds its own. I’m enjoying it. The characters are compelling and the stories are intriguing and the whole thing hangs together. If you haven’t read it before, I think you’ll enjoy it.
I am glad I got my hands on the manuscript, though. Here is proof, if it were needed, that writers do improve with practice.
I’m a great believer that you have to be pretty good to get published in the first place; you have to tell a decent story and you have to do it well. There are no shortcuts, and most writers have had quite a lot of practice at their art before their first story makes it into print. That’s how it should be. There is always room for improvement, though.
I’ve been looking over “Gilead’s Blood” and I’ve been making little tweaks, nips and tucks, on almost every page. I’ve been adjusting the rhythm, teasing out placeholders, adding or removing a comma, breaking a single sentence into two, shifting a clause back in a sentence or turning a paragraph on its head.
If you read the original, you probably won’t notice the tiny little changes I’ve made, but I’m glad I’ve made them. “Gilead’s Blood” trips along very nicely, thank you. Everything I’ve learnt in the past fourteen years about editing, everything I’ve learnt about cadence and rhythm, and structure has influenced how I’ve read this book. I couldn’t have done it when I wrote it, when I was close to it, but time is magical, and “Blood” came back to me as if written by somebody else.
I doubt I’ll ever have the opportunity to see a novel so clearly again, but this has been an education, and one I won’t soon forget.