My American and British editors have now read, and offered their opinions on, THE REAPERS. The manuscript went out to them last month and, as is usually the case, my British editor read it first, and then my American editor followed with her response a little later.
Waiting to hear what they think of a manuscript does nothing to contribute to a stress-free lifestyle on my part. As I've said before, I have a nagging fear that I'm a bit of a fraud, and that the latest novel will be the one that at last exposes my fraudulence and ineptitude to my editors. That fear is compounded when a book deviates in any way from what has gone before, as THE REAPERS does. It's not quite an 'entertainment', to borrow Graham Greene's description of his less tortured novels, but it is lighter than, say, THE UNQUIET. As soon as it went out to the editors, and my agent, I think I began tensing for the blow to come.
As it happens, though, no blows have landed. Both of my editors - and my beloved agent - seem very happy with the manuscript, and have sent it straight into production. That doesn't mean the book is already rolling off the presses, but it has gone to copy editors, and when the copy edited manuscripts are returned to me they will have my editors' comments included. There will be problems to be addressed, questions to be answered, but I won't have to tear the book apart, and tear my hair out in the process.
It is a relief. While my editors are delicate about such matters, and diplomatic in their approaches, I'm certain that, were there significant problems with my manuscript, they would let me know, even to the extent of postponing publication if necessary. (In fact, I asked one of my editors that very question, and she made it quite clear that I didn't have some authorial 'get-out-of-jail-free' card if problems arose.) It was reassuring to hear. Sometimes I will read a book by a big-name author and wonder just how much editing was done, if any. It doesn't do the author any favours in the long run, even if it allows him, or her, to do a little less work in the short term.
So now I have a worry-free Christmas, relatively speaking. Actually, that's not true. Instead of worrying about THE REAPERS, I'm just worrying about the next book instead. I'll probably make a start on it over the Christmas holidays, as my diary for next year is already filling up and I'd like to get a little writing done before I start travelling again. I think I even have a title for the new book, although it may change as the writing progresses. I'm quite looking forward to writing it. Although Parker figures in THE REAPERS, it's not told from his point of view. It will be good to inhabit his consciousness again. Troubling, but fulfilling . . .
This week John read:
Shakespeare by Bill Bryson
and listened to:
Kurr by Amina