There hasn’t been a week since I self-published the first three books in The Ballad of Sir Benfro when someone hasn’t contacted my through email, Twitter, Facebook or comments here asking when book four, The Broken World, is coming out. My intention last year (was it only last year?) was to finish the third McLean book, The Hangman’s Song, in time for self-publishing in the run-up to Christmas, following which I would get stuck into writing The Broken World for publication this summer. It’s November now, and neither book are available yet. What’s happened? I hear you ask.
Well, not really. You all know what happened. Penguin came along and snapped up the McLean books. Such was the success of the first two, that even before The Hangman’s Song is published, I was made an offer for three more in the series that I really couldn’t decline. The problem with that offer was that my editor wanted to keep up the six months between books schedule that we’ve stuck to so far (sort of). I can see the logic in this. Part of the success of the books has been down to there being two available relatively quickly, with a third already scheduled for publication. Readers love series, especially when they discover a new one. By keeping the McLean books coming, I can build up a large fan base in a relatively short time.
To this end, I had to shelve the writing of The Broken World and concentrate instead on McLean book four (as yet untitled, and that’s a tricky situation to be in). I am almost finished on the first draft, but no sooner will I have handed that one in than I’ll have to start writing the next one. And then come July, I’ll be straight into the sixth in the series.
For all of you wailing and gnashing your teeth at this point, I can assure you that Benfro has not been forgotten. I have been plotting like a mad thing, using fantasy as a palate cleanser between bouts of writing crime. The Broken World will be finished, and it will be published. That is surely good news.
The bad news is that you’re going to have to wait a while to see it. And oddly enough, that’s good news for me.
Penguin, it seems, so love my writing that they’re going to publish the whole of The Ballad of Sir Benfro – five books in total – starting next autumn. The deal was announced just as World Fantasy Con opened last weekend.
I am conflicted. Of course I’m delighted, over the moon, speechless, my gast well and truly flabbered and many, many superlatives to boot. My little dragon, Benfro, who first began to form in my mind almost ten years ago, is going to be published, and by Penguin. Excited doesn’t begin to cover it.
But on the other hand, it does mean that all you lovely people who have read the first three books, loved them and come begging for more are going to have to be just a little bit patient. The rest of the world needs to catch up with the adventures of Benfro, Errol, Beulah, Melyn and the rest before I can roll out The Broken World. And then there’s book five to follow.
I really don’t like breaking my promises, and I promised that Benfro book four would be out this Summer. Alas, circumstance has made a liar of me, and for that I really am sorry.
On the other hand, Penguin are going to publish Sir Benfro! Squeeee!