There'll be no sun tomorrow morning.
There'll be no moon to bless the night.
The stars will perish without warning.
These lines proclaim the death of light.
Following the publication of the third Abarat book - Absolute Midnight - Clive has moved straight on to Volume Four, which has the planned title 'The Price of Dreams'. He will then move straight on to writing the fifth and final volume (with the working title, 'Until The End Of Time'), which he promises will be huge!
What's Going To Happen In The Final Two Books Of Abarat?
Clive has told us that the final book might well be called The Eternal, but he's still thinking about that one!
The clues to where the story might go next are sprinkled throughout the first three books and also in these notes that Clive wrote before Book 1 was published, but we suspect there are some big surprises in store too...
"As the books progress, Candy assembles a circle of allies, uncovering a plot to blot out the Sun, Moon and Stars, and acheive a condition of permanent Midnight. Were this to happen, then a great number of creatures that would never dare to venture into the land in the light, would be free to emerge from the Sea of Izabella and would wreak havoc on the islands."
Around the same time as he wrote those notes, he told us that:"It's pretty closely plotted through to the final book because there are things that are happening in the first book that will not get paid off until the final book. I pretty much know exactly what's going to happen. You get a sense even from the first book that everything is sort of laid out and there are mysteries and puzzles which are enigmas which are going to be solved..."
Later, after Book 2 had been published - but, again, before Clive decided he needed five books to tell the whole story, not four, he told a magazine called Realms of Fantasy:"I have plot outlines for part three and some notions for four, based on the 270 paintings that I haven't used so far, but I may develop some new paintings as well. Now that I'm into the third book and starting to think about the climax of this narrative, I have to take charge of it a little bit. It can't be the unruly stallion any longer. I've really got to break it, otherwise I'm not going to get the climax that my audience deserves.
"I want Book Three to build to something fairly dramatic, and Book Four to be on a whole new level of excitement, so I'm not quite as passive - in the sense that, with the first book I was letting the paintings tell me what was going on. The same was true to an extent with the second book, although I started to become more of a shaper of the world. The third one is very shaped, very predestined, because I pretty much know where this narrative is heading. At the end of four books there are going to be half-a-million words and 500 oil paintings, and I want that four-book world to read like one enormous, incredibly colourful, surrealistic journey."
More Details Please!
Clive is staying tight-lipped about the details, but he has talked in more general terms about the puzzles generated by a world of multiple places and times and how important it is to tie everything together..."I'm aware that I've begun a pretty huge narrative with a lot of characters already and even though there was a night of the long knives in the second book and a bunch of characters bit the dust, there's a bunch of new characters waiting in the third book... I'm not quite so clear about what Book 4 will be yet because there are some things in play that I have to work through which are actually about the metaphysics of it all; actually they are about what happens when you get into the 25th hour and you know, given the fact that it is a time out of time, what revelations, what horrors, what wonders are you going to see when you meet yourself as a baby or as an old person or whatever, so there's a lot of interesting stuff happening there..."
"I want to make sure that all the characters get their stories dealt with, their stories addressed - including the girls at the very beginning who were cruel to Candy in the first place - they also have a place... I'm attempting to embrace everything that's happened in both Abarat and Chickentown in these three books and connect the dots - that's what the Thread was there for, that's what the Skein was there for.
"These two books are a totally different writing experience from the first three because I am now so fully engaged in the fantastical elements of narrative and everything that is happening is huge because of where the climax is going to take us. So there will be many connection points, not only forward into Book Five, but also back into the first three books which will allow a lot of things to suddenly make sense. For example, why Gazza seems to fall totally in love with Candy so quickly and Candy seems to fall totally in love with him, which of course doesn't happen in the real world - and critical readers were pointing that out to me - they should have trusted that Barker would have done right by them. And a lot of other things - Diamanda is related to someone that we don't connect. Christopher Carrion is going to have power over some things we don't connect, and a whole order of evil women are going to be revealed, though I mentioned them in Book Three I mentioned them so quickly and so quietly..."
Apocalypse! War! Despair! Heroes and Villains! Will Book 4 Be Happier?
Not really - Absolute Midnight has shown us the scale of Mater Motley's plans but we haven't seen the results of the darkness yet, and there's a new villain on the horizon..."Book 3, as the title Absolute Midnight suggests, is a pretty dark book but the darkest hours are not actually in Book 3, the darkest hours are in Book 4, so in a way that is new to me in this Abarat process I am feeling a sense of the shape of these things as I paint. And I'm making copious notes and writing paragraphs and literally have two files full of notes now. It will be interesting to see how much of it actually finds its way into the final books..."
"I have a new character's name from Abarat that I want to share with you: Preyer Kry. He is the representative on Earth of the Nephauree. I shouldn't say 'on Earth', I mean in our - [dimension?] Right - which is both Abaratian and terrestrial. Although... you say it's another dimension... I'm not sure that it is. You know, the ships that ply their trade between the Hereafter? It's like there's a door that we don't quite see that they are able to access. But Preyer Kry he is, oh boy, a villain - yes. A new level of villainy."
"You know there are these massive world-shaking events that are about to unfold... Iím dealing with some dark times here. I donít think the writing can avoid that issue, even though Iím painting and writing a book thatís for all ages, I donít think you can avoid the issues - maybe I could avoid it but I donít want to because that wouldnít feel right."
"War is what I now have to write Ė thatís why youíll see war research everywhere around this room now, because thatís whatís going to have to happen in Book Four. "Just as I wanted to warm over the idea of how scary it would be for the darkness to come down and you not to be able to see anything in the world: and I really played that kind of light, I think (sorry, I didnít mean that joke!) Ė I really played that without great weight in Book Three. It could have been a nightmare, but if I had given [readers] that, there would have been nowhere to go for Book Four.
"I also knew that the heart of this had been Night versus Day, it had always been the heart, always, so what I felt Absolute Midnight was, was a sort of a preparing of the ground, the turning everything to mud in preparation for, just chaos. Because in Absolute Midnight youíre talking about supernatural powers visiting supernatural horrors upon innocent people essentially. In the next one, the final battle, weíre looking at them doing stupid things to each other. There are two tribes about to kick off Ė youíre Night, Iím Day!"
Why Five Books Not Four? How Did That Happen?
Ahhh... Good question!"I had two weeks over Christmas  where I sat down with myself and examined what I knew I wanted the narrative journey, the shamanistic journey, that Candy Quackenbush takes from being an errant schoolgirl in Chickentown to being what she will become at the end of what will now be the fifth and final book of the Abarat series. And I realised I couldn't get it in four books; I couldn't get the characters in four books...!
"I have grown to love this world, probably more than any other that I've created and I want to serve the rising scale of this drama and the conflict and the revelation of what Candy is, of what Abarat is, of what it is to us, as human beings, what we are to it... That was what the conclusion of that fourteen days was; it was, 'You know what, Barker? You can't do this in four books - own up...!'
"[It's] a huge step, a huge step, but you know what it did? It was like I had a toy train engine going and behind it in the dust, lost, was the engine of the Titanic. And, by simply saying, 'Five', the dust was blown away and this huge engine moved into motion, and I realised how the mechanism of the smaller engine that I'd been playing with served its place absolutely in the larger one. And that my subconcious had been at work in a very generous way, but you're right, Phil, it's a moment when you say 'oh...' because you know what each of these books is...
"For the final book - it'll be a hundred and fifty, a hundred and sixty paintings and it'll be a year and a half of writing; it's a huge book. And yet, what am I going to do? I'm not going to undercut this thing which is so important to me...
"[It was] a huge relief, because I saw the bigger engine, and there must have been a part of me that knew the bigger engine was there all along. And when I talk about 'engine' I actually mean a narrative engine; I mean a huge narrative machine that was waiting in the shadows to fold it's great cogs and pick up this smaller machine I'd been dealing with and fold its mechanisms into the greater machine and plough forward and take Candy places I simply couldn't have got her in four books."
How Long Is It Going To Take To Write All Five Abarat Books?
Whew, that's a tough one... Each one takes about a year to write but it's also a case of where the Abarat books come in the list of all Clive's other projects. He stopped writing a big adult novel in order to write Book 3 and he's now rolled straight into writing Abarat 4. But he's also been writing a collection of short stories for adults too, meaning there's no definite timing on Books 4 and 5 and there's that adult book still to go back to, as well as other artwork..."I think my best job is to be the imaginer here and to simply continue to enrich this world. It took C. S. Lewis about 10 years to get through the seven books of the Narnia series. And of course, Baum was writing the Oz books almost until he died. I pretty much think I'm going to be in Abarat, in some form or another, for a very long time - and that's where I want to be."
"Part of the point of this is to let my imagination percolate on this material and resolve the narrative in all its complexities - there's a lot of stories that need to be resolved at the end of these five books. I want to do that properly. I will never write about Abarat again after these five books, I think I can very certainly say that will be the case, so I really want to make sure that these five books really do the job. That may mean it's best for me to take a little break between 4 and 5."
"Iím just going to go on... Iím off on to Abarat 4, and the largest pile of papers around me is Abarat 4, which is my various notes Iíve been collecting up from around the boxes and so on - but actually Abarat 5 as well because I think, in a way, itís impossible to think about the fourth book without also thinking about that too because they are one system... And what weíll have in Four and Five is bursting to come out of me! So Iím just going to get on with it."
Is The Artwork For Book 4 Already Painted?
Yes, most of the paintings that will be in Books 4 and 5 have already been done! Clive will add a few more as he sees exactly where the story leads him and you can see some of the artwork which has been done and might well find its way into those three books here on our artwork from future Abarat books page, or by clicking on the link below.