I don’t talk about books I’m working on. This is because I once posted a diary on this site about a book I was working on, Girl Makes Headlines, and it turned out to be a baaaaaad novel, very bad, and when it became clear that I shouldn’t even attempt to get it published, I had to quickly pretend it never existed. Talking about future books, I realized, is begging the publishing gods to smite you down. So now I don’t do it.
Until, that is, I sell them to a publisher. And that’s what’s just happened: Doubleday has ponied up for Company. It will be published in hardcover sometime next year.
I wasn’t sure exactly what I should say about the book at this stage, but fortunately I received an e-mail from a guy called Luke who is very sure what he wanted to know. Luke has 18 questions for me. They start out about my novels, then get into NationStates territory, so I’ll just take the first ten.
1. Is “Company” going to be unique and insightful like the first two books, or is it going to be meant solely to be painfully funny to people in offices, sort of like a Dilbert in writing?
I’m not sure those things are mutually exclusive. I love Dilbert. I’d be very happy if people thought I had written the Dilbert of novels. But I think you’ll find Company to be very recognizably a Max Barry book. I haven’t changed much since I wrote Jennifer Government.
2. Have you finished it and your publishers are just making us wait, or are you still working on it?
I’ve finished the latest draft. My editor is writing up his thoughts on what I should do for the next draft, which, if all goes well, will then be pretty close to the published version. This editing process will probably go for two or three months. The rest of the time is the publisher fooling around with cover designs, sucking up to bookstores, and trying to arrange all the fiddly little die stamp letters in the printing press into the right order.
3. Do you plan on writing more books afterwards?
4. If so will they be coming out more or less frequently than your first books?
It depends. It was three and a half years between Syrup and Jennifer Government, and will be roughly two years between Jennifer Government and Company. I’d like to have books published more regularly than that, but only good books. I’m not sure how long I’ll take to write my next good one.
5. If answer to #3 is yes you expect your quality of writing to increase or decrease?
I expect my writing quality to increase as I get more experienced, then taper off sharply once I get rich and famous, descend into a incoherent lifestyle of drunken debauchery, and start pulling out old, rejected manuscripts to meet publishing deadlines. You’ll know this has happened when you see Girl Makes Headlines on the shelves.
6. How many books do you think that you could write before runing out of original ideas?
Forty-two. No, actually, that’s a fair question. John Grisham has just published his—what—17th legal thriller? And apparently it’s good. I really don’t know how you find anything new to say in your 17th genre novel. But I’m only up to book three. I have plenty more stories.
7. Will you be doing any more IRC sessions do you think?
8. Will you be doing any more book tours?
If the publishing gods smile, yes.
9. If you will, do you think that you could persuade your demographically blind publishers to make a few more east coast stops?
I can ask them. I may not be able to persuade them. How this works (I think) is that the publisher lets bookstores know that they’ve got a particular author on tour soon, and any stores that want to host him/her put up their hands. So the best way of getting me to tour your city may be to find the bookstore that does the most author events near you and say, “Me and all my friends want you to host Max Barry.”
10. What about Western Massachusetts? I think if you could publicize it, our being a large chunk of land out of touch with reality would cause a book tour to be very succesful. ;p
I tell you what, I’ll mention it on my web site.