At this year's New England SCBWI Spring Conference, sitting on a panel with my agent Stephen Fraser, I told the audience how many years it had taken to find him, describing the circuitous route of my search, something I blogged about on Smack Dab in the Middle last July. Summing up, I said I'd like to think that sometimes things just fall into place when the time is right.
But waiting for things to 'fall into place' can take months. Years. Perhaps decades. I wrote The Owl Keeper in 2001 and it was published in 2010, nine years later. When Stephen asked if I was working on anything else I said yes, thinking of my not-quite-finished novels I'd been writing forever. I loved each of these books for special reasons and I'd never quite given up on them. But they dated back a very long time: to another century, in fact.
My next book, The Scorpions of Zahir, comes out in July 2012. Scorpions first took novel form in 1998, following a family trip to Morocco, where we spent time in Marrakech and the desert. Morocco had been such an intense experience that the events were scorched indelibly into my brain, or so it has always seemed. If you do the math, you'll see that Scorpions has taken 14 years to see the light of day.
As for The Glass Puzzle, scheduled for publication in June 2013, well. Let's just say that I began this novel in the late 1980s, er, on a typewriter. I still have some of the typewritten pages. They look sort of like medieval artifacts, all yellowed and brittle. Of course, Glass Puzzle was a very different book back then. The final version (still being edited) actually fuses two of my novels: the 1980s book and one I wrote in the early 1990s set in Tenby, Wales, after I'd spent two weeks there.
I thing it's fair to say that the gratification I get from writing has always been delayed. Years, decades, and once in awhile another century -- it's just a question of time.