Which means I'm back in the real world and it feels wonderful. That is, it does now. It didn't immediately.
The final period of a book's creation is such a dense and lush and all-encompassing place to be, that when the final pages are finally wrested away and sent to the printer, there comes an inevitable slump. A hole. A gap. A nervy, tic-inducing period in which people say things like 'you must be so pleased', and 'now it's time to relax', and although you smile and nod, what you really want to whimper is 'but I miss them all so much!'
At least that's how it always plays for me. It doesn't last forever (the new characters and stories are too determined to let that happen) but it's a dazing and distancing time, characterised by a strange sense of something that feels an awful lot like loss. I find myself standing in my office, aimlessly surfing my computer, rearranging my desk, flicking through my research books, and feeling oddly unsettled.
Then the ARCs go out, the first editions arrive at my door (pictured here are the Australian and the UK Distant Hours; my ears are tuned to the doorbell awaiting the courier with the US edition), and slowly, slowly, a few eager, early books begin to find their way to readers.
And that's when the sense of being untethered starts to disappear. Because no matter how much I adore writing, no matter the pleasure my stories give me, it isn't until books are read that they really start to breathe.
PS There's a brand-spanking Events page under construction that will list all the upcoming tour dates. Until it's finished, though, US readers can find details here.