I don’t know. I always get this scary stretch of white space unfurling in my head when I finish a novel. It’s an ideas path. And there’s nothing on it. Well, that’s not true, but I often feel that the ideas I do have aren’t going to see me through 300 pages of story.
I’ve always written what I’ve felt like writing, what occurs to me, but now that I have a publisher keen to promote me as a horror writer, and with THE UNBLEMISHED having made some impact, there’s pressure on me that I’ve never felt before. Do I produce more of the same? Do I go off in a completely different direction? Probably I should produce something similar in scope and tone to TU and then think about writing something unusual. That, I think, is the smart thing to do.
So I have an idea for a new novel to equal, if not better, TU’s epic feel, although at the moment it’s very raw. It’s an idea for the first half of a novel and I’m struggling to work out how the second half might develop from the first. It’s an idea that will require a shedload of research, depending on whether I begin the story before or after the first half’s key element (what was it Vonnegut said about starting as close to the end as possible? I think he was on to something with that). I don’t know how to start it. All I have is a working title, a lead character and the knowledge that it will be written in the first person. I think. And I have a year to get it done.
One of my problems is that I tend to jam too much into a novel. There’s too much going on. Some people who have read my stuff have said they’d have liked to see an entire novel written about one particular strand. I don’t have the confidence to leave one strong idea alone. I fret that it won’t be enough and keep adding, like a chef who isn’t sure about his fish stew. So maybe the idea I have for the first half of the novel is actually substantial enough to see me through to the end. And the idea I have for the second half is a novel in its own right. What do I know?
Maybe I should just go and write an outline…