I try to give myself a break. I know that the year in which a new novel is published needs to be devoted to giving that novel the best start in life it possibly can get. That means spending a year setting up events, running workshops, writing pieces for blogs, newspapers and magazines, making as many public appearances as I can muster, keeping up the daily social media drive, pestering everyone I come in contact with — no matter who they are (plumbers, beware) — about my new book and how it can be purchased. It’s more than a full time job. So I tell myself not to worry about the next book. “Give yourself a break, Sue. Focus on one thing at a time. You’ll sleep better.” Yes, I try to give myself a break. But it doesn’t work.
Even before Out of the Ruins was published, I was already imagining what would come next. I was already thinking about the next set of characters, the next plot. Then Out of the Ruins was launched, I launched myself off onto my annual stay in Cambodia and I did my SE Asia book tour.  During all that time I decided not to write the book I thought I would write next. That one will have to wait. Instead I started to come up with a new set of characters, a new plot. But I had really meant to leave it at that. I really meant only to let it percolate in the back of my brain while I threw myself into the business of book promotion. Alas…
So, I’m starting to do some research. Slowly, but it’s still happening and I can’t stop myself. What does that mean for me? I have my new notebook (which was, at first, called Novel 4, but is now called C3 — i.e. Cambodian novel 3), and I’m making  a list of everything I might need to know about to write the next book. And as I make the list, I’m starting to collect newspaper articles and books, but I’m also seeking out people to interview. Those interviews are the most important of all, as far as I’m concerned. I go into them with a set group of questions, but then I let the person talk, barely taking notes as they ramble on. Inevitably, it’s their ramblings that give me the information and the colour I need. Books on history and politics give me the general information, but the interviews give me the details and the life.
Without going into too much detail about what C3 will be about, here’s my list so far of where my research will likely need to take me:
History of the SE Asian region and the rise of SEATO
* History of relations between Cambodia and Thailand
History of relations between Cambodia and Vietnam
Modern political changes in Cambodia over the last 25 years, including the political parties
* Details of recent demonstrations – how and why
* Role and life of foreign correspondents
* Nature of the Cambodian diaspora in France, especially Paris
* Cambodian Buddhism and religious rituals
I guess that should get me started. But the question remains, when to start? Or have I already?