At one point, Alan - unshaven, haggard from long nights of furious writing - listened while I described the sometimes traumatic relationship I had with my own second book, Against Gravity.
Specifically, about two thirds of the way through writing that novel, I got so sick of it I opened a new word document and called it 'Why I Hate This Fucking Book'. After staring at the blank screen for half an hour, all I could think to type in it was 'Because I fucking hate it'.
I don't hate it now; in fact I really like it. But it's just one of those things that comes with the realisation you're no longer writing an unpublished book that might sell, you're working on one that's already been sold - but your publishers haven't seen yet.
So I told Alan about this, and he asked me, 'so do you find it hard dealing with deadlines?'
If I'd thought for more than half a second, I wouldn't have laughed and immediately replied 'fuck, no.' Just half a second more and the words wouldn't have come out.
Which is perhaps why in a recent blog entry, Alan says:
Gary is a fellow Tor author who, although he's a nice guy, is much better at meeting deadlines than I am and is therefore an utter bastard. For the record, Neil and Paul are not utter bastards.
Oh, how we laughed.