Pre-sales, readings, revisions . . .
Not much to report on this front. If this book is going to happen, it’s going to be a close call. We have 74 days to go, and we’ve only moved 48 pre-sales. If you’ve already ordered a copy, tell your friends!
I have a reading / talk at Auntie’s Bookstore in Spokane on Thursday. It should be fun, though (sadly) there will be no haggis. You can check it out here: http://www.auntiesbooks.com/event/outlander-scottish-poetry-and-culture-after-45
I project the book will be about 120,000 words long, and I’ve drafted about 95,000. The first half of the book is, I think, in really good shape. But I’ve been pondering some major structural changes to the novel. In the next few days, I may upload an excerpt from the second half of the novel in the near future just to give a glimpse of the direction this might go . . .
The historical novel genre as we understand it was basically invented by Walter Scott when he anonymously published Waverly in 1815. He wrote it to start digging out of the massive debts he’d incurred through some bad decisions and poor investment advice. The novel was a smash, and Scott went on to write dozens more historical novels before he died in 1832. I have regular ol’ Penguin editions of Waverly, Ivanhoe, Old Mortality, Rob Roy, and The Heart of Midlothian. All of these are excellent, but I’m especially fond of my copy of The Abbot.
Why, you may ask, is my copy of The Abbot a favorite? Because it’s a real-deal first edition, direct from an antiquarian bookseller in Edinburgh, via almost two hundred years of reading and handling and sitting on countless bookshelves. I love old books, and sometimes, as I’m trying to puzzle through a new section of the novel, or a difficult revision, I open one of The Abbot, thumb (carefully!) through the pages, and smell the old ink and old paper. Then I (carefully!) put it back with my small collection of antique books and get on with writing. I swear I write better after touching these books.