Author interview Constructed World Novel Creative Process Review of Fantasy

The long, hard road to getting a book published – Josiah Bancroft responds to eager fans

Josiah Bancroft is one of those authors who has defined his creative process with care and can explain how he produces his often tremendously complex novels. He explains himself very well, probably having realized that this interaction with fans is a significant part of promoting a book and of being a professional author. His fans now know that his series, The Books of Babel, is a tetralogy, not a trilogy, and are now waiting for the next, last book in the series. Like with any series, it is the final book which will receive the most attention and criticism since readers have developed preconceived ideas and expectations. Bancroft knows this only too well. (Thank you to Goodreads for hosting the Q&A:)

Josiah Bancroft (Photograph from the author’s website)

Anthony Gallos asked Josiah Bancroft: “I just wanted to thank you for the books you have written, Josiah. I couldn’t imagine the pressure associated with being a professional writer – especially with a new baby demanding your attention, concern, and love. Take as much time as you need. Complaining about incomplete series is very popular online now but a poor ending is definitely worse than a long wait time. Obligatory: ?”

Josiah Bancroft: Thank you, Anthony, for your thoughtful and encouraging words.

I’ve made a conscious decision to interpret readers’ gentle goadings and polite inquires about the release date of the final book for what it usually is: Enthusiasm expressed with imperfect elegance.

Of course, there are those who are not just excited to see the continuation or conclusion of a story they are enjoying. There are a few who are impatient, entitled, and demanding. And those relative rarities, I’ve come to understand, are persons who it’s best to ignore. And again, in my experience the majority of readers have been polite, pleasant, and understanding. I feel very fortunate.

Paul Gonterman asked Josiah Bancroft: “Hi Josiah, Thank You for The Books of Babel. So as I get ready to crack the cover on The Hod King my question is a simple one. When can I expect book 4?!? You have crafted a fantastic story. Thank You!”

Josiah Bancroft: I wish that I had a better answer to your question of the fourth book’s ultimate release date. I’m still hoping for 2020, but it’s an ambitious goal. I recently had to junk about 100 pages of my current draft because they simply weren’t good enough. (They committed the unforgivable sin of being tedious.) That decision sets me back, but I know that ultimately the book will be better for it.

I understand the anxiety of readers who want assurances that they haven’t signed on for a never-completed series. All I can say is that I’m going to finish the final book (for my own sake and sanity), but I’m not going to publish something that’s undercooked or half-cocked. A blunt capstone spoils the entire pyramid. I want to get this right, or at the very least, give it everything I have.

This is, without a doubt, the most challenging book I’ve ever undertaken, and I can only hope that readers will bear with me as I learn, experiment, and plug away. As always, thank you for reading and thank you for your patient support.

(One hundred pages deleted! Oh, the poor man.)

About the header:

The image of the red-cloaked figure in the tower was derived from a photo image by Thania Petersen, from her series “Queen Colonaaiers and her weapons of mass destruction”, titled Remnants 4 (2016). The original work is in the Everard Read Gallery, Cape Town.  The figure and the setting reminded me instantly of the covers of the novels in The Books of Babel series.

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