The Sacrifice - latest newsEdit

These are words form Charlie Higson himself from his blog.

07 March 2012Edit

Right, you see when I wrote my last update, well, basically I, like, lied, yeah? I didn’t realise at the time I wasn’t telling the truth, but, looking back, it was all a great big pack of lies. You see, what’s happened is I’ve just finished writing the Sacrifice, and, as is so often the case, the novel I ended up with is not the one I set out to write.
At all.

As I wrote in my last blog, The Sacrifice was originally going to switch between the stories of Small Sam trying to find his sister, and the further adventure of the Holloway crew. It was going to pick up at the end of The Enemy and carry on from there. As I pointed out this was originally going to be the plot of the 2nd book in the series, but I added in The Dead and The Fear as a way of introducing the two sets of new characters – the kids at the Natural History Museum, and the kids at the Tower of London. I was worried that a lot of the start of the 2nd book would be taken up with meeting new characters. So, the story of Maxie and her friends arriving at the museum was put back, and then put back further and now has been put back even further. The immediate sequel to The Enemy will now be book 5 in the series. Sorry about that. It’ll be worth the wait, though.

So what happened? Well, about half way into the new book I realized that it was all getting too complicated. We had Sam’s story, we had Ed’s story, we had Maxie’s story, and Brooke’s and Achilleus… and then there was Shadowman, the new character who was introduced in the Fear. I wanted to show what was happening to him as well. I was worried that the reader would get confused, trying to keep up with too many kids and too many storylines.

I had some lengthy discussions with my fantastic editor at Puffin, Amanda Punter, and she agreed that I should separate out the Natural History Museum story from the Tower of London story and put them into separate books. This was very generous of Puffin because it meant they were now going to have to make me an offer for a 7th book in The Enemy series.

The question remained, though - Would it be best to continue the Small Sam story or the Maxie story? Amanda surprised me by saying she felt we should follow Sam. This means that fans of Maxie and her crew from the Enemy will have to wait one more year and one more book to see what happens next. It does mean, though, that the 5th book in the series will now concentrate entirely on Maxie and the Holloway crew and they can have a whole book to themselves. Just like The Enemy. And in fact, new readers could skip straight from the Enemy to book 5 if they wanted.

It does seem crazy to think that was that what was going to be book 2 is now going to be book 5. One of my favourite literary quotes is Tolkien’s line in the introduction to The Lord Of The Rings where he says “This tale grew in the telling” (something of an understatement). My little trilogy is now going to be an epic seven books long, or about 3,000 pages. I hope my readers have patience and stick with it. There will always be great pleasure to be had from reading the books again, though, to see how all the strands interconnect.

I know there are a lot of fans of Maxie and the Holloway kids from The Enemy out there (I’m one myself) and it’s asking a lot to readers who may have bought the Enemy when it first came out to wait four years for the follow-up, but I think it’s going to be worth the wait. I’ve already written a fair amount of the next book (which was going to be part of the Sacrifice) so I know what’s going to happen. It’s going to be a really exciting and scary book.

In the meantime we have the Sacrifice, which I’m very pleased with. In fact, I think it’s going to blow your minds. It picks up after small Sam’s arrival at the Tower of London in The Dead. We get to see something of The Tower and its workings, and we see how Jordan Horden has it running like a military camp. But while Sam is safe there and makes friends with Ed and he can’t settle down because all he wants to do is find his sister, Ella. Ed is reluctant to let him go because it would mean travelling westwards through the forbidden zone. Ed tells Sam to hang on until DogNut returns with news of what’s going on in the centre of London. (Spoiler alert) Readers of The Fear will know, however, that DogNut is never going to return, although Ed doesn’t know this yet. In the end Sam and the Kid can’t wait any longer and strike out on their own, but it turns out that the biggest danger is not from sickos, but from another group of kids.

Meanwhile Shadowman is tracking St George across north London and watching him steadily build up his army. He knows St George is going to become extremely dangerous but nobody he tries to warn takes him seriously. There are a couple of new kids introduced in the book but the major new character is a sicko called Wormwood, or the Green Man (as he’s covered in green mould). Wormwood is more intelligent than other sickos. He can think more clearly and he can talk – after a fashion. Among his weird ramblings we realise that he knows something about the cause and history of the disease.

I felt it was important in this book to start giving some answers to the questions that readers keep asking. What is the disease, where did it come from, is there a cure? Well, if you read the Sacrifice, you’ll start to get some answers to these questions. Unfortunately, like Sam and his friends, you’ll have to try to decipher the diseased ravings of Wormwood, but I hope you’ll enjoy seeing all the different strands and elements of the books starting to come together. This process continues in the next book and by the end of book 6 you’ll have a full picture of the disease, leaving book 7 - the final book in the series - to tie up all the loose ends in an apocalyptic battle between the army of the sickos and the combined armies of the various kids around London.

Over the next few weeks I will need to do a complete rewrite of the book, then I’ll have to do more revisions based on the copy editor’s notes and the proof reader’s comments. The Sacrifice will be released in September; in the meantime the paperback of the Fear will be out in April. I’ll be doing a short tour for each publication, so watch this space for details.

I’ve also written a brand-new Enemy story for World Book Day, which is available on their brilliant - and completely free - app, along with other new stories by the likes of Neil Gaiman, Anthony Horowitz and Malorie Blackman. And if any of you have any questions you can e-mail me, or even better, why don’t you talk to each other about the books on the forums and I can join you there to answer your questions.
Who thinks we should set up an online chat here soon?