It is with trembling hands that I type: the first draft of book 9, "War Master's Gate" (1), is finished.
I'm not going to lie to you, it's been a rough ride. I'm slick with blood up to the elbows, and my normal protests that the story unfolds of its own momentum, with minimal fiddling from me, are starting to sound like the officer who tries to shed his guilt by claiming he was only obeying orders. There have been a lot of crunch points in the books so far (look at how Salute the Dark turns out) and The Air War is going to have its share, but book 9 has some moments that sent me away from the keyboard for a bit of a lie down until my hands stopped shaking. I've said goodbye to a few friends, over the last handful of months (2).
After all, we're getting towards the end of the final plot arc. These things are only to be expected.
There's a lot of work ahead, obviously — first off I've got to print it off and re-read it on paper, to pick up all those inconsistencies that have crept in, and ensure it's actually as satisfactory as my memory currently claims it is. In the meanwhile, I'm revisiting 8 while I go through the edits on that, which makes an interesting juxtaposition, as book 9 is somewhat of a sequel to 7 and 8 together.
Next stop: Book 10 — "Seal of the Worm", a phrase that Air War will illuminate somewhat. However, I'm hopeful that I'll get some short stories done first so watch this space.
(1) or: "whatever the hell we end up calling it", but I'm quite happy with "War Master's Gate".
(2) This is sounding a bit like JK Rowling's dire portents during the Harry Potter series. Yes, it's true, General Tynan does put Dumbledore on the crossed pikes. It's dramatic necessity.