It took six years, with innumerable other projects getting in the way, but as of lunch today, Shriek: An Afterword is complete. Tomorrow it goes off to my agent and we'll see what happens. In part, Shriek took six years because I had to learn how to write it--parts of it I didn't have the ability to write back in 1998. This is a novel in which the landscape of Ambergris recedes a bit and the main characters stand out in sharp relief against its outline, which is different from City of Saints, where many of the characters were fully-rounded, but so was the city. This time, I wanted to pull back from the pseudo-Victorian feel of City of Saints and write in a more informal style. I feel as if this is a break through novel for me, for a number of reasons. First, it's the first real novel I've written. Veniss is only 53,000 words, while Shriek is currently 125,000. Second, it marks a definite change of emphasis and style. Third, it's intensely personal for me in that many of the events or anecdotes that comprise part of the plot are autobiographical. I've been able to write about things, for the first time, that I wasn't sure I'd ever have the proper distance from.
Now I'll set it aside for a couple of weeks, then go through it for a final copy edit and perhaps a couple of scene additions or deletions, while it goes out to publishers. I'm a compulsive editor and believe that time away from a completed novel is the only way to gain objectivity. At the same time, I'm confident it's in extremely good shape and ready for editors to see it.
My friend Neil Williamson sent me a book by Ian M. Banks about scotch and Scotland on the stipulation I only read it when I finish the novel. I think I'll indulge in it sometime this evening, along with a nice bottle of English hard cidar and, possibly, a good cigar.