I'll tell you the good news first. The good news is that there's a new Levels story approaching.
The bad news is it's not the one people are expecting. I finished the first draft of Levels 4, and put it aside to get my breath, and got distracted by dystopian novels. Got so distracted that I wrote one...
Here's the idea: Song to Wake to is the springboard of the Levels series. It's the unveiling of the key relationship, and the paramount secret. What happens next is kind of the obvious way for the story to go, if the world stayed the same.
What if the world didn't stay the same?
What if in lots of ways it ended?
What would happen to the Levels series, and its characters - bearing in mind their special qualities - if society collapsed around their ears?
That's what THE WILLS TOWER is about. I read and obsessed about Wool, by Hugh Howey at the beginning of the year. Then I read the complete Chaos Walking series by Patrick Ness. Here's the first, The Knife of Never Letting Go:
It's set in a world quite like ours, but with two key differences: Men can hear each other think, and the world is inhabited by a second, very different, intelligent species. Patrick Ness really develops about these two things would really mean. People's thoughts are 'noise' and they're deafening, and maddening. The other species are communal, maybe aggressive, maybe not. They are so fused as a social unit that they don't even have individual names.
The story is about a boy, the last boy, trying to make his way through this world. So is THE WILLS TOWER. As well as being about Maddie and Eddy, it has a third character, a boy alone, called Roman.
We meet Roman when he is in love, and being picked on. He asks a girl out, and a bully mocks him. "Only if you were the last boy in the world," he is told. THE WILLS TOWER in part, is about the process of that coming true, and in part about how dealing with high school can be good preparation for dealing with the end of the world.
I'm going to call THE WILLS TOWER 'Levels 2B' and it can be an alternative sequel to Song to Wake to. It will be out before Levels 4, which is being slowed by rewrites and getting the cover perfect. I've just been inspired by the photo at the start of this blog, and this one.
You can read more about them here, the most amazing pictures I've seen for years. Hopefully the cover of Levels 4 'THE WALLED LAKE' will have the qualities of one of them.
Hopefully it won't take too long...