I’ve been a bit tardy in updating my website lately, so sorry to all those who have been awaiting information on the sixth (and final!) installment in the Odysseus series.
The good news is that things are well on their way. I finished the first draft of Return to Ithaca back in February, and the first edit was completed by the end of March. The manuscript then went to my new publishers – Canelo – for a second round of editing.
This is always a moment of truth, when a second set of eyes gets to assess the book you’ve been working on for the past year or so. It’s also quite nerve-racking. By the time I get to the end of a book I always feel a sense of despair, believing everything I’ve written to be a disaster (some Amazon reviewers might agree!) But I usually remind myself that I’ve felt this way after finishing every book in the series so far, and just hope readers will like it. Thankfully most do. But here’s what my editor prefaced his notes with for Return to Ithaca:
“I’ve finished RETURN TO ITHACA and wanted to say firstly: congratulations! It is a magnificent novel, a really great achievement and a fantastic way to round off the series. It is a very different book, and it has an incredibly complex structure, but I still felt that despite that it fits in wonderfully. You said that in many ways it was a difficult book to write. I have no doubt that is true, but there is absolutely no sense of that from the reader. It flows and fits together perfectly. As a publisher I often find that, contrary to the expectations of their writers, books that are difficult to write are very good indeed; they have been carefully constructed and laboured over, but, as is the case here, that work is completely veiled. What remains is just a brilliant novel which feels completely natural and effortless to the reader. I can see why it was a challenge as the intricacy of the plot and the change in stakes and conflicts is a tricky act to pull off. But pull it off you do – and more!”
Hopefully his enthusiasm will whet your appetites for the novel. The second round of editing was completed and sent to my publisher today. This will be followed by copy editing and proofreading, after which Return to Ithaca should be available as an e-book as early as June (the print version will arrive a couple of months later).
As the editor mentions, the final book in the series is very different to the first five. Anyone who has read the Odyssey will know that the story moves away from the warlike and supernatural settings of the earlier myths to one that is very domestic. The tension and drama remain, though, and I hope you will find the book an enjoyable and suitable ending to the series. I admit feeling quite sad when I wrote the last paragraph and knew I wouldn’t be working with these characters again. Like saying goodbye to old friends forever.
So what comes next? I’ve got ideas for at least three or four books, including a two-parter about the labours of Herakles – Hercules to the Romans – and a standalone novel about Theseus and the Minotaur. I’ve already got some strong interest in my Herakles idea, so that’ll be first on the list.
As a departure from my usual era, I’m also planning a book set in the First World War. I had a few relatives who served in the war and have always had an interest in it. The story is loosely based on a true account about a British tank that gets stuck in no man’s land for three days. The problem will be in persuading a publisher to take a risk on something new. And my readers, of course.