Returning to Sorrow’s Crown
Regular readers here know that I spent some of June and July writing a Sherlock Holmes novel for Titan Books. Murder at Sorrow’s Crown is collaboration with Steven Savile and is unlike any other collaboration I have ever done. First, I have never met Steve. Heck, I don’t even know what his voice sounds like. And yet, we’ve worked on numerous projects together for something like six years now including the moribund Latchkeys series at Crazy 8 Press and various other things that never quite saw the light of day.
I wrote the original outline and he tweaked it, adding in a bunch of historic research, and then we polished it and got our editor’s approval. With our vacation locked in place, I made sure I could hit the ground writing the day after school ended in June. As I have written about previously, despite thinking I had done my research during the April break, I was sadly under-prepared having never done a historical novel before.
Once I got underway, I reread a bit of Arthur Conan Doyle each morning before getting to work and then just wrote. And wrote some more. Suddenly, I was burning through the outline and in a panic told Steve we were going to run short. We came up with an A-minus sub-plot and that helped although when I typed “The End” the book weighed just a wee bit over 55,000 words.
Steve assured me that between August and December, he would easily find the remaining 25,000 words and we batted ideas back and forth that actually deepened some of the story and threat to Holmes so it was probably for the best. Then a curious thing happened: Steve became an overnight success. He was landing a number of contracts for books from various publishers which led them to begin asking for things that complicated our delivery schedule.
Steve buckled down and in a two week burst, revised, polished, and added, sending me daily or hourly updates to reassure me this was going to be swell. Better than swell. Nothing to worry about.
Last week I received the final manuscript, now a robust 71,509 words. By then, I had conjured up a C storyline that tied in with the main plot and would allow me to take us to the contracted count. As the holiday break approached, I opened the file for the first time nearly five months. In previous collaborations it was always weeks or a moth between needing to deal with manuscript so for me, this was practically reading it afresh.
I had little to worry about as I not only recognized the majority of the draft being what I wrote over the summer but the things Steve added or changed was so seamless the manuscript flowed. I was delighted. And then I began putting in my new sub-plot and it was feeling good and smooth. Our writing styles and thinking appear to mesh quite nicely as we both matched Doyle’s voice.
Yesterday, I added the final words and we topped out at 78,040 so the version I emailed to Steve is far weightier than the one I sent back in July. Obviously, first our editor at Titan and then you, the gentle reader, will determine if we succeeded or failed. For now, though, I am feeling particularly good about the manuscript and the collaboration. If this goes well, and I suspect it will, Steve had an idea for a second tale. It weaves together some ideas I had for the first book but had to abandon and some notions he had so the manuscript may soon be followed by a proposal which would be just lovely.