THE BURNING WORLD update

Publishing is one of the slowest art industries because books are one of the slowest artforms. While films--even massive, globe-spanning blockbusters--can be shot in a few months, novels typically take several years to write, and while a film can be experienced in two hours and passed from person to person to reach hundreds of viewers in a matter of days, a book moves slowly. A book requires weeks or months between each link in the chain. It requires deep investments of time and attention. It doesn't travel virally on a surge of impulse clicks. A book demands a committed relationship. It's laughably ill-suited to the modern age.

Because of this, the publishing industry operates on a time scale best described as geologic. The delivery of a final draft is just the beginning of the process--the sales team reads it, they pass it to other sales teams, booksellers, critics, blurbers, media, catalogs, stores, and each step requires at least one human being to actually read and care about a book. Mountains rise and wear away, rivers carve canyons, and finally, if a thousand little factors have lined up just right, the book survives to reproduce.

I'm explaining all this because some of you may have noticed that THE BURNING WORLD--the third book in the Warm Bodies series and the first true sequel--has been drifting. For a while, the release date was in August, 2016. That's the date I shared with all of you and the date I was planning my life around. A summer release! A summer tour! What a grand adventure 2016 would be!

There was only one catch. I hadn't finished the book.

Although I wrote the last page of the first draft of the whole mega-story last summer, the realization that it was actually two books inspired a lot of revision, and after honing it through several drafts with my equally geologic editor(s), my worst nightmare came true: I missed the window. The release date had to move. And because publishing is so weird, with its complex system of seasons and shelf space and marketing bandwidth, it couldn't just move by a month or two, it had to move...all the way to next year.

The release date is now February 7th, 2017.

I'm sorry, readers. I didn't want this. I'm acutely aware that it's been five years since WARM BODIES. Your patience with my meandering process has been a great gift, but I can feel your restlessness, and it's surpassed only by my own. I've been locked up in the writing tower for over three years now and I'm so ready to come down and share what I've been been building. No one is more excited about this book than I am, and adding another 6 months to the wait sounded like a cruel joke. 

So I fought it hard. I flew to New York for a desperate meeting with Atria Books in the hopes of finding some other way, but as we discussed it from all possible angles, I started to see a different picture. This delay wasn't about penny pinching or a lack of imagination. It was about allowing room to do something big.

THE BURNING WORLD is an exciting book. It's a love story and a war story and a road-trip story, full of action and humor and emotion--a page-turner! But it's also a nonlinear, semi-meta, poetically styled epic about the roots of human nature and the future of consciousness and oh yeah, zombies? It's a weird book that fails to fit neatly in a genre or a market, and our culture isn't kind to mutants. So it's going to take a big push to get it in front of readers, and that's what we're going to do.

We're going to release a new special edition of WARM BODIES that includes THE NEW HUNGER. I'm going to make two national tours: a quiet one this summer to reconnect with readers and bookstores, and a glorious circus next year for THE BURNING WORLD's release. And we're going to launch a major campaign to introduce the world to the big, crazy saga this humble "zom rom com" (ugh) has evolved into. Atria is investing real resources into getting it to its readers, and for that, they need time.

So even though the book will be polished and ready to print within a couple months, it has to wait for its moment. After everything I've poured into this story over the last three years, the last thing I want to do is rush it out the door naked.

The fact that you guys continue to care about R and Julie's world so many years after WARM BODIES makes me misty with gratitude, and it kills me to add another year to your/our wait. But I hope you'll hang in there with me a little longer. 2016 won't be an empty year. There is a lot of exciting stuff in the works--new covers, secret events, contests and giveaways and even some new stories for the most dedicated fans--and if all goes well, I'll get to actually meet some of you this summer. I won't bring any security--after all I've put you through, you deserve the chance to beat me up.

I'm sorry I'm so slow, and that publishing is so slow, and that love dies and the sun explodes and our cats can't talk to us, but thank you for keeping hope alive. I hope when you finally dive into this strange little world I've built for you, it'll be worth the wait.

-Isaac

Prequel Books are Still Books

I've been having an odd argument with the good people of Goodreads.

THE NEW HUNGER is my second book. It's the second book in the Warm Bodies series. Yet for some reason, Goodreads wants to call it "Warm Bodies 0.5"

The half-book status I can understand, since it IS a novella, so call it "1.5" if you want...but zero? What is that? If the first book in a series is book 1, then book 0 would have to be...a book that doesn't exist. But this book does exist. You can buy it here. So what's with the zero?

Well, THE NEW HUNGER is a prequel. The story (most of it) takes place before the events of WARM BODIES, and apparently, to a lot of people that means it's somehow a "negative installment" or even not a part of the series at all. As one news item put it, "Marion is calling this a 4-book series, even though one of the books is a prequel."

I don't like this, you guys. This is nonsense. A prequel is as much a "real book" as a flashback is a "real scene" and its place in the series is wherever the author put it. 

I didn't write THE NEW HUNGER after WARM BODIES by mistake. It's not "out of order" any more than flashbacks are out of order. It's book 2 for a reason: because your knowledge of book 1 changes the way you read it. It attaches a premonition of hope to an otherwise bleak outcome. Prequels are unique because they tell a story in two overlaid layers of time: the one playing out in these present events, and the one playing out in your memory of the future. And if you take it upon yourself to "fix" the author's "error" and rearrange the books, you lose all that.

So can we keep this book in the series? Can we stop shoving it to the back like supplementary bonus material? Because even if it's not apparent yet, I assure you THE NEW HUNGER is a crucial link in this story. It lays the foundation for much of what's coming, and without it you're going to find yourself quite lost in THE BURNING WORLD.

Ok, the weight is lifted, I'm glad we understand each other, I love you, thank you, goodnight.

-Isaac

WARM BODIES - THE NEW HUNGER - THE BURNING WORLD - THE LIVING

A few months ago, I told you I'd finished the sequel to Warm Bodies. I told you I was calling it The Living, and then I retreated into the editing cave to read what I had wrought. It was the first time I'd experienced the whole story as one piece, and upon reaching the end, I had a realization:

This wasn't the single mammoth tome I thought I'd written. In structure, rhythm, and theme, it was actually two books.

This is why it took me three years of obsessive 7-days-a-week work, why I withdrew from life and lost friendships and grew a white patch in my beard. I knew it was a big story, but it wasn't until it was complete that I could see its real shape: two arcs, two endings, 900 pages...

Maybe the 900 pages should have been my first clue. That would have been a dauntingly long book--about three times as long as Warm Bodies--but what matters more than page count is how the story naturally wants to unfold, and if the story wants two books, who am I to argue?

Sometimes the baby comes out twins.

So without further throat-clearing, I'm proud to announce the final two installments in the Warm Bodies Series:

THE BURNING WORLD
July 5th, 2016

 

THE LIVING
2017

 

I'm so excited. I hope you are too. It's going to be a weird and wonderful ride to the conclusion of this story, and while I'm sorry we have wait another year to get there, keep in mind The Burning World is nearly twice the length of Warm Bodies, so you're going to have plenty to chew on. (no zombie pun intended, ever.)

And to anyone worried I'm pulling a Hollywood and trying to stretch a small story across several installments: nope. This is a huge story. It was always a huge story. It's about people discovering who they are across multiple eras of their lives, it's about isolation and love and the many kinds of death, it's about the animal fears that rule civilization and what it might take to overcome them, a doomsday church and an undead corporation and an infinite ladder to the future of all life. Two books should just barely contain it.

So thanks for hanging on with me through these twists and turns of publishing. Nothing in my life happens normally.

 

-Isaac