I'm very happy to introduce our first author guest post here at Mad Hatter's as award-winning author Tim Lebbon visits us on his Blog Tour as his 8th stop to promote the new paperback edition of FALLEN. The previous stop was at Graeme's where you can check out a great interview with Tim.
Previously on this Blog Tour I’ve chatted about new novels FALLEN (paperback) and THE ISLAND (hardback), their characters, the world of Noreela and its timeline and background, what inspires me, and what goes on in my head to even give these stories a chance at being told. I’ve also talked about sentient tumbleweed and fictional characters taking charge of my life … Now I thought I’d share with you a little of what it’s like to live a writer’s life – with the constant shadow of deadlines, the chasing of fleeting ideas, the writing blocks, the inevitable self-doubt… Deadlines are like monsters from a really bad Jean-Claude Van Damme movie (are there any other sort?), stalking me from the future, closing mindlessly and mercilessly, and every morning when I wake up they’re that much nearer, and I can hear the chomping of their jaws and the clacking of their teeth as they do their best to distract me from the writing that will, I hope, see them turn away, at the very moment they might have closed their drooling, stinking molars together through my soul… Ideas stalk, but in a more benign, yet no less disturbing way. They’ll circle and watch for the best moment to arrive, and their best moments are usually my worst. Many times I’ve had a great idea sing in and make itself known just at that strange moment between waking and sleep, when the world is quiet and all manner of possibilities lie in the dreams bubbling just over the sleep horizon. Up, out of bed, beside lamp on, notebook open, wife stirring in annoyance, and even then the frantic scribbling does little to bring justice to the idea that is already over there in dreamland, laughing at me. Other times it’ll be when I’m driving that the idea bullet hits, taking out a large chunk of my concentration as I try to negotiate the next deadly traffic jam of white van drivers and boy racers. On the loo, walking the dog, watching something on TV or a movie—and the wife hates it even more when I press pause and disappear into my office to rattle down a couple of hundred words of what, I hope, might become the next scene, chapter, or book … Deadline still stalking, ideas circling at a taunting distance, this is the Middle of the Novel, where the beginning still seems great, the ending is a shining beacon luring me on with promises of brilliance, but the current location is just not working at all. This middle is painfully bad, it’ll break the book and upset my editor and destroy my career. It’s the worst Middle of the Novel there has ever been, because it’s the parched Desert where Ideas Die. I write on, because that’s all there is to do, and eventually there’s an oasis in the distance … but is it real, or is it a mirage? And so to the ending, when everything I’ve been working on for several months starts to come together into this great climax I have been thinking about forever. Plot strands converge, schemes cross paths, characters have changed enough to fulfil the destiny I—or more likely, they—have always intended for them. But … will it work? Is this really such a great idea after all, or is it a stinking pile of cliché? There are 130,000 words behind me laughing at my back as I run away from them, fleeing a fight and edging nervously around where the last 20,000 words are meant to go. Help me help me somebody help me! And now I’ve written the ending, it’s something close to what I’d hoped, or at least the novel as a whole bears a passing resemblance to the idea I had in the beginning—but only a fleeting likeness, because everything changes in the telling, and my favourite Arthur Machen quote never seems more pertinent than now: “I dream in fire but work in clay.” It’s delivery time, when I send this new baby off into the internet ether winging its way toward my agent and, from his hands, into the hands of my editor. Now the real angst begins, because is this the worst novel I’ve ever written? Even worse, is it the worst novel ever written by anyone, ever? Of course it is … and the period after delivery that should be for relaxation and casual research about the next book are sleepless and disturbed. My editor will hate it, the edit notes will mean a complete rewrite, acceptance and the delivery advance are still months away, and my kids need new shoes! And even when the edit notes aren’t too bad and my editor says how good the book is, I start to wonder if it’s too different from my last books, will readers who liked the horror go for the fantasy, will fantasy readers like this new horror novel, will I shed any small readership I’ve managed to attract by changing tack? Is this novel the equivalent of career suicide? What was I thinking? But already my head’s spinning with new ideas, because there’s always more to do. The new idea is taking shape, the new novel forming like a shape in the mist. I can never concentrate on anything for too long, not without new ideas intruding … my head’s always working, and that makes relaxing difficult. These new ideas, they’re just … well … Am I weird? Am I really weird. Do people in my village talk about me behind my back, look at me, say, ‘There’s that weird writer bloke Tim Lebbon’? I should take a break, of course. Spend some time with my wife and kids. But there’s a new deadline beckoning now, making low, grunting noises as it gears itself up to steaming in at me with fangs gnashing and the promise of eternal damnation if it catches me and flings me behind it. So the promise of ‘I’ll have a bit more time soon’ is always an empty promise, because as I get older and my career moves on, Time seems less and less easy to find. I dream of a machine that makes time, and there’s a twinge of, ‘Hey!’, but of course that’s a stupid idea. So I deal with the time I’ve got, and tell the kids that no, I can’t come out to play right now, I have this guest blog to write for this Blog Tour I’m on and… And I love every single minute of it all. With FALLEN and THE ISLAND, the deadlines kept me focused, and I hit both of them (in fact, THE ISLAND was early …!). Brainstorming these two novels felt like having a personal movie screen and library, always active, inside my own mind. Writing the endings was like discovering what happens at the end, as much a thrill as reading the ending of a great novel, and with both FALLEN and THE ISLAND the endings were mysteries to me until I wrote them. Writing something different from my earlier horror novels was rewarding and satisfying, and readers’ and critics’ reaction has been fantastic. New ideas hit and excite me as much now as a great idea did ten years ago. Yes, I’m a bit strange, but who’d want to be normal? And my family seems quite settled with my slight oddness, and my kids love the fact that I can tell stories. So what are the worries and concerns about being a writer? All part of the wonderful, thrilling process, that’s what. Speaking of which, I feel a new idea circling in now, so if you’ll excuse me …
If you've been following Tim's Blog Tour here is the link to the next installment of the extract from FALLEN to get a taste of Lebbon's Norella: EXCERPT. Start back at the beginning of the tour to get caught up to the samples. You can also read my review of Lebbon's (with Christopher Golden) The Map of Moments here.
Join Tim on June 1st for his final stop on the blog tour at the SFX Magazine Blog where they'll have an exclusive extract from The Island. To order a copy of the newly release paperback of FALLEN visit here.
To catch up on the tour here is the full list of other stops on the tour:
11th May - My Favourite Books 13th May - Allison & Busby 15th May - Highlander’s Book Reviews 17th May - Falcata Times 20th May - Speculative Horizons 23rd May - Fantasy Book Spot 25th May - Graeme’s Fantasy Book Review 27th May - Mad Hatter's Bookshelf & Book Review 1st June - SFX Magazine Blog