I am moved to write something to you, having done nothing much for several months. I wish I was better at corresponding, but we all have to live with our failings. Anyway, the last Shannara book has been my preoccupation for the better part of a year. First to write an initial draft, then to edit a few times, get feedback from Judine, edit some more, send off to editor Anne Groell, edit a whole lot more, struggle a bit to let go for good, and then look at my future.
I am all done with major edits if Anne doesn’t think something more is needed. See what I did? I put it all on her. But I feel really good about this book – better than I did when I turned it in by a country mile. It moves better, it feels more complete, it has the emotional high points I was looking for, I can live with myself and readers alike because I did not kill everyone, and I am at peace.
How hard is it to let go of something you have been working on for more than half your life? Hard, really hard. I put on a good face, but that much time devoted to any kind of work takes your measure. I started out to write one book, then two because the demand after book one was there, then three . . . Pretty soon I was so attached to the idea of a fictional historical saga that I didn’t want to stop. Luckily, readers supported me in this effort, and I don’t regret a single book I wrote in that series. Thirty in all, counting the new one, in case you are interested.
So now it concludes, and I will be anxiously awaiting the response to how I handled it. I plan to do a lot of events next year to bring it all to a close, including conventions, writers conferences, and some regular touring. But it gets harder every year to maintain the pace and summon the necessary energy, so no promises on whether I will reach you with this book. All I can promise is I will do the best I can. Do not forget. I have two books coming out in 2020 – the final Shannara book and a comprehensive book of short stories sometime later in the year. So I might get more than one crack at finding you on the road.
Meanwhile, I am working on a new book (surprise, surprise) for 2021. I like to work ahead in case I go down with some illness or whatever. This new book is the start of what might be a new series, but most likely will run only 2 or 3 books. I’ll have to see once I get close to the finish of Book One. It feels sooooo good to be doing something new – something big and different and exciting. I am going to go out on a limb here and suggest that while the writing and storytelling will be familiar, the characters and story and all the rest will be quite new. Still writing fantasy. Still writing adventure stories. Still working on my same old moral issues and sense of how we do or don’t exercise responsibility and decent behavior. Never gets old. Just like the world we live in.
So let me end by thanking you for the snail mail, the online letters and comments, the occasional unplanned meet-up and all the extended support you provide me. I am lucky. I am blessed.
I am uplifted, Terry