Last month, I was delighted to be invited by the UK Crime Book Club to speak in one of their Ask the Expert slots. So far, the series has featured publishers, police specialists as well as marketing aficionados, and now it was my turn to talk all about editing!
If was a fantastic evening, and Samantha and I chatted all about editing, writing crime fiction and, strangely enough, cheese, along with much more. If you weren’t able to watch the interview live, it’s now available to view both on the UK Crime Book Club YouTube channel (see below), so do check it out. It is a great chance to find out more about what an editor does in general, how I personally help authors with their manuscripts, as well as the nuances of working in the grisly but addictive world of crime fiction, in a fun and informal format.
If you enjoyed that, don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions, and follow me on social media (links at the bottom of the page) for more news, updates, and general chit chat.
Congratulations are in order for one of my fabulous authors, Simon McCleave Author, who has just announced his publishing deal with Avon Books UK!
As an editor, one of the greatest pleasures of the job is seeing your authors go from strength to strength, and it’s been an utter privilege watching Simon’s star rise higher and higher. It seems like a lifetime ago that we started work on The Snowdonia Killings back in 2019, and now book ten in the series, The Seine River Killings comes out later this week (bookmark your diaries, folks!). All that hard work has certainly paid off! Very proud editor, indeed!
Yesterday, I had the opportunity to chat with my friend and fellow editor, Isobelle of Inspired Lines Editing. We discussed all things editing, including what to look for when finding an editor for your manuscript – and how to appeal to your ideal editor! – as well as how an editor can help push your writing to be the best it can be.
If you couldn’t catch it live, take a listen and find out what we had to say and so much more. And if you missed the chance to submit your own question, please don’t hesitate to add to the comments below – we’d love to hear from you!
Thanks to everyone who took part, and the lovely Isobelle for joining me over a cuppa.
Across the Pond: Translating English into, well, English.
One of my first jobs of 2021 was a little different to my normal fare but one that also got me thinking. Not only because it was a speculative novel that transported the to the not-so-distant future and questioned the role of AI and also what it means to be human, but also because I was tasked with translating the novel from English, into… English!
Now you may well be scratching your head, but to clarify, I was translating the text from American English to British English. Why do that, you ask? They’re the same language, right? Well, yes, but also no. And depending on your aims when you’re publishing your manuscript, which you choose could be very important.
It’s safe to say that to new writers and authors, once you leave the seclusion of your writing desk, the world of PUBLISHING is a little daunting? There is so much jargon, so many processes, ways to do things, ways not to do things, that it can all be a bit much! When I first joined the industry, I was a little flummoxed too. I loved books more than anything, but I didn’t understand a think about how a book was actually made.
Yesterday, I read a fascinating article by American novelist Ben Winters. I had the pleasure of working with Winters briefly whilst I was at Penguin Random House and found his unique predicament intriguing.
The article, published on Slate.com, is discussing how the global pandemic of coronavirus and COVID-19 has basically screwed the plot of his new book, The Quiet Boy. It begins in January 2020 and hurtles towards a finale in July 2020 – in a music festival. Well, that’s not happening any more . . .
So it got me wondering how writers and namely the plots of fiction novels have been affected by the pandemic. It must be soul-destroying to have worked so hard, giving up months if not years of your life to curate the perfect plot line, create the characters that you need and finesse the timeline just so until you have a novel that you’re truly happy with . . . for a global pandemic to make it no longer relevant.
But my question is, does it matter? The role of fiction isn’t about facts. As the dictionary defines it, fiction is ‘the type of book or story that is written about imaginary characters and events and not based on real people and facts’. Of course, the best inspiration comes from the world around us – and no doubt the market will be flooded with coronavirus diaries, novels, etc. (Although I question whether there will be a market for them after we emerge blinking in the sunlight post-lockdown – we don’t want to go through that again *shudders*.) But, what better excuse than the world going a bit bananas around us to make use of this fantastic tool that we have hidden deep in our brains: the imagination. There is no better time to let our minds wonder and think of what-if and how-about.
Winters has a point when he says that ‘Right now, we are in the middle of total and utter upheaval. What reader will accept that my characters blithely go about their business in Los Angeles in the spring and summer of this year we’re in?’ Perhaps we should have more faith in our readers. Every day, fiction asks us to suspend our disbelief and fall headlong into a world that isn’t real, not based on fact, the product of the workings of someone’s mind. Yes, it looks a little like the world we live in, but the fiction form is prism not a mirror, twisting the light of the real world into a kaleidoscope of colour – otherwise the sci-fi and fantasy genres would already be in deep water!
With this in mind, over the weekend, I had the delightful experience of kicking my heels up and devouring Rebecca Serle’s smash-hit novel In Five Years. The whole concept of the novel taking a classic interview question – ‘Where do you see yourself in five years?’ – and twisting it on its head. The novel is all about how no matter how much we try to plan our ideal lives and how we see ourselves in five, ten, even twenty years time, life has a funny habit of getting in the way. Serle’s characters begin in 2020 and happily work, live, love their way through to 2025 (when it starts getting a little pear-shaped), no mention of pandemic in sight. Of course, when Serle wrote her manuscript, COVID-19 hadn’t reared its ugly head, but the novel is no worse off for it. In fact, it might even be an added strength as it reminds us that although the world looks less than peachy at the moment, we’ll get through it, whatever happens.
Admittedly, there might be a new couple of new courses on the syllabus for future literature students – Pre, Post and COVID Literature – but I’m excited to see what new writing this situation brings us, and whether authors choose to engage or not – some already having voiced their claims of not touching the topic with a barge pole, Anne Tyler and Harlan Coben being among their number. I feel for Winters, who has decided to push the events of his novel back to 2019, but whether you choose to set your next writing project in a world affected by COVID or not, I think the readers are willing to welcome you with open arms. To be honest, we’re just thankful for something to read!
We’re in the middle of some turbulent times. There is lots of uncertainty and anxiety around, and we’re having to adapt our daily lives. Many more of us are being asked to stay at home, practise social distancing and or being quarantined for fourteen days. In a world where most of us are on our feet go-go-go all the time, being cooped up at home is a pill proving hard to swallow.
However, amongst all this mayhem, there could be a silver lining. As we are encouraged to stay at home where we can to help protect not just ourselves but others we have a little more time on our hands. Not only that but feeling stuck in one place can lead to feelings of being both physically and psychologically. So rather than getting ourselves down, we should embrace this extra time for ourselves. It’s the perfect time to indulge in some self-care, dust off that yoga mat or pick up new hobbies or old!