And so, Dear Reader, we get to the end. After fifteen years, 3 books, 742,571 words (320,291 of them in The Wings of the Dawn) and untold numbers of cups of tea, The Fulcrum War trilogy is finished.
It is, it must be said, a very strange sensation. Knowing that I have finished the story, that the phrase ‘Actually, I’m writing a book’ is no longer applicable, is most peculiar. I am 33 and I had the idea that formed the basis of these stories when I was 16: more than half my life has been conducted against a background containing the trilogy. Having it no longer be there is almost unsettling.
Then there are the characters to whose voices I have become as attuned as to those of my own family. They have nothing left to say, and I find their silence discomfiting. I have said before that finishing a book is like losing a friend, but I have never felt the truth of that quite so profoundly as I do now.
I have tried, as best I can, to finish in such a way as to give the reader a sense of ‘unexpected inevitability’ – the idea that, in retrospect, the book and the story finish in the way that clearly they had to end. But the objective is to make it obvious only in retrospect. I think – more accurately, I hope – that I have done this, but the better judges will be the readers. They haven’t lived, as I have, in the knowledge of what will come. I worked out the ending years ago, and I have had to keep it to myself until now…
I have been writing pretty consistently and speedily of late: the sight of the finish line, the clarity of the end goal, makes it easier. (The problem with doing that, of course, is that by the time you actually cross it you’ve built up a fair bit of momentum and suddenly there’s no use to which to put it!) Now that the job’s done (I finished it yesterday, at lunch time) I intend to celebrate. I have been saving a Romeo y Julieta #3 for the occasion, and for once Zeus smiles upon the garden; it’s a lovely evening, and there is a lawn chair with my name on it…
So I shall sit back, and enjoy some Thomas Tallis on the iPod, and watch the cigar smoke rise in the still air, and think –
What shall I write next?