The problem with doing these updates is that each of them is an attempt to predict the future, and if there's one thing that I have proved beyond a doubt these last few years, it's that I'm very bad at predicting the future, especially when my own work is concerned. I suppose I incline too much toward optimism.
My last formal update on A DANCE WITH DRAGONS was dated February 15, 2007.
If that seems like a long time ago to you, join the queue. It seems like forever and a day to me. When I wrote that update, I was sick of writing updates. So I tried to make that last update the final update, and ended it by saying, "The next update will be the one that announces that the DANCE is done."
Like all my other predictions about this book, however, that one turned out to be wrong. Ten-and-a-half months have passed, the book is still not done, and lately my mailbox has started filling up once again with readers pointing out that my last update is ah, quite old. So in the spirit of the holiday season, I decided, well, I can't give them DANCE, but I suppose I can give them a new update and a new sample chapter.
The new chapter you'll find on the Ice & Fire / Sample page of the website. For most of the past year, I've been rotating the first Daenerys chapter and the first Tyrion chapter on that page, changing back and forth every few months. By now, I fear, many of you have probably committed those two chapters to memory, so I'm adding a third wheel to the rotation, and giving you a taste of the first Jon Snow chapter as well. I hope you will enjoy it. And if you missed the Tyrion chapter and/or the Daenerys chapter, have no fear, both of them will be back up again in the months to come. I only offer one sample at a time, but my webmaster and I do try to change them out regularly.
As for the update part of the update... well, what can I say? The book's still not done.
Last February, when I wrote the previous update, my intent was to finish and deliver A DANCE WITH DRAGONS by the summer, so I could take off for the worldcon in Japan with a clear conscience, and follow it with a book tour through several other Asian countries. Obviously that didn't happen. I ended up cancelling the whole Asian tour and missing worldcon for the first time since 1985, so I could stay home, focus on the book, and make an all-out effort to finish it by the end of 2007. Unfortunately, that didn't happen either.
It is now 2008. I'm still working. There are no short cuts. It's a chapter at a time, a page at a time, a word at a time. I'm further along than I was, but not as far as I would like. During the last year, I had some good days (and months), some bad days (and months), and some days (and months) that I thought were good that turned out to be bad. The book is getting longer, and more importantly, the book is getting better. I've changed my mind about some of the things I said in earlier updates and on my Live Journal, and I reserve the right to change my mind again, though I am hoping I won't have to. Believe me, no one wants to finish this book more than me.
Sorry, I won't give you chapter and verse about the details of what I've been doing and undoing. I've never liked to talk much about a work-in-progress. Too much can and does change. Seeing as how I made you wait so long between updates, however, I'll throw out one small teaser, and mention I'm adding some chapters from the point of view of one of the characters featured in the first lot of Ice & Fire miniatures from Dark Sword, a character who has never had a POV in any of the earlier books.
This summer I am scheduled to travel to Spain to speak at Semana Negra in Gijon, make some appearances in Madrid and Barcelona, and then head over to Portugal to visit with my publishers and readers there. I want to have A DANCE WITH DRAGONS done and delivered before I leave. If that happens, the book will likely be published in the fall of 2008 in the U.S, and somewhat earlier in the U.K. I am pleased with the way the writing is going at the moment, and I think these projections are realistic ones... but as you all know, I've been wrong before. So I am not swearing any blood oaths here.
I probably won't update this page again for quite a long while, so let me close by saying once again that when A DANCE WITH DRAGONS is finished, I will post that news here. The moment I finish the book, I will log on and make the announcement. You guys will be the third ones to know, right after Parris and my publishers.
Until then, let me suggest that you check out HUNTER'S RUN, the new SF novel I wrote with Daniel Abraham and Gardner Dozois, and INSIDE STRAIGHT, the first volume in our new Wild Cards triad from Tor. They are not A Song of Ice and Fire, true, but I'm very proud of them both and I think a lot of you might enjoy them. Both books will be on sale in January in hardcover. And if it's more epic fantasy that you're yearning for, there's never been more good fantasies being published than there are right now. Try Daniel Abraham, try Scott Lynch, try S.L. Farrell and David Anthony Durham and Peter S. Beagle, try Lisa Tuttle and Robin Hobb and Ellen Kushner, or any of myriad other authors whose work is making fantasy such an exciting genre to be a part of... and if you want a change of pace, hop over to historical fiction and sample some Bernard Cornwell, some Cecilia Holland, some Steven Pressfield, some David W. Ball. You'll be glad you did.
Meanwhile, I'll keep working.