My fifth novel will be out in mid-2013. If you’re wondering how I manage this breakneck pace, with Machine Man gracing the shelves only last year, it’s because I haven’t been updating my web site or going on Twitter or Facebook. It’s amazing how much time that leaves. Also, I broke my usual pattern of following good novels with unpublishable ones. It’s a bold new strategy but I’m optimistic that it might just work out.
The new book is Lexicon. If you’re the kind of person who doesn’t want to know anything more, because you have already decided to read it and want your experience to be untainted by any hint of a spoiler, then (a) thank you, (b) I am right there with you, and (c) you may skip ahead to the next paragraph. For everyone else, it is about a secret persuasion society that builds and deploys words as weapons. The people who wield these words are known as poets; the story centers around a young woman who is recruited into their ranks, and the man she falls in love with. Which you are not allowed to do, as a poet. I could explain why, but I’m not going to. Just trust me.
I began writing this book about five years ago, although it has changed so radically from my early sketches that I may just go back and write a second, completely different book from the same original idea. Usually, I start a novel with a particular situation in mind, but this time I had a concept, and unfortunately a concept is not a story. A concept is somewhere for a story to live. So I ended up writing a lot of words, looking for the story inside this concept. I always take a kind of sick pride in the number of words that don’t make it into my final drafts; the notes, doodles, experiments, deleted scenes, et cetera. I usually have at least as many of these as published words. This time, I have far more: 197,788. Actually, that is a little appalling. I hadn’t totaled that up before. But I’m still proud, because those words led to good ones.
Lexicon will be published by The Penguin Press in mid-2013 in the US and Canada. Details to come on other countries.