Those of you who read Paul’s novels will be happy to know that he has just passed one hundred twenty-seven thousand words on the first draft of the fifth/final book of The Awakening (a.k.a. the Tebrey novels). He was writing the big finale for the whole series right before he called me to ask my opinion about the minor plot complication (a.k.a. yet another terrible thing to throw at the characters) he’d just thought of.
Unless something changes, he’s gonna have this novel written before the end of the year — before the end of next week, possibly.
Then, he’s going to get back to writing the sequel to Project Brimstone; he has a lot written for that book, too. Working title is Riders on the Storm. Then there’s The Fire Throne, and possibly a prequel for “that novel,” although now Paul is thinking that the events in that story would work better if integrated into “that novel” as flashbacks (we mean that in more than one sense of the term), and I agree. Marrah, Murphy, and the Mad God (a.k.a. the Instrumentality) know there’s more than one character in “that novel” with reason to have flashbacks to events from decades or even centuries earlier.
About that “worst thing that could happen” business… According to Lois McMaster Bujold, part of plotting a good novel is figuring out the worst thing that could happen to a character that they’d survive. Yeah. We don’t have that particular limitation. Someone’s gonna die at the end of this story. More than one someone, actually. But you probably already knew that.
My own criteria for deciding if a specific “worst thing” is right for a story is my emotional reaction to it from outside the story, compared to my emotional reaction when looking at it from the inside. If I get a combination of “Do it!” on one side and “Oh, hell, no!” on the other, then I know it’s perfect.