It takes about four months for me to write a first draft of a novel. The rest of the year is spent editing the manuscript and promoting the books that I have already published.
I actually enjoy editing and marketing, but there is no rush here to compare to writing a novel. It is extra special, I think, when writing a series. In my political fiction, I have just begun the third in a series, and I have put it aside while I write the third book in the Wycaan Master series.
It is strange to finish a novel in a series and walk away from the characters that I have created. They seem to think they can still follow me around, hang out with me at the gym, intrude when I am trying to write something else, and sit in my car while I am driving.
Most often, they appear in real people. It might be a comment, a mannerism, or an accent. Sometimes a person will say something and I will stare at them. These poor victims then feel a need to explain themselves because they fear they have just offended me. But really I am thinking that the Wycaan teacher Mhari might have said that, or Ilana would have arched her hip in exactly that way.
The worst part is when I suddenly think of a better way that one of my characters might have said something or dealt with a situation. I am consumed with concern or guilt and chastise myself, like a parent who missed an educational opportunity with a child.
But beginning a book is like welcoming old friends back after a long time apart. It is the family gathering once or twice a year. There is so much to catch up with, new stories and challenges, people growing up, flourishing or struggling. It is a fusion of the familiar and the potential.
It is an amazing journey, and I could not walk it without the characters of my books by my side.
Welcome back, old friends.
Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist and A Gardener’s Tale. He has written two fantasy novels and the first has reached the Quarter Finals of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award as of March 2012. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/and on Twitter (@elfwriter).