While most people would think that a book is the product of one person – the author – it’s actually the sum total of a number of people, i.e. the author, definitely the editor, as well as an assortment of alpha readers. Unlike a movie, which’ll finish with four or five minutes of credits acknowledging everybody from the actors to the director to the caterers, a book has only the acknowledgements to (this may be a surprise) acknowledge anybody who’s had any input into the content.
So there’s some people I would like to give a personal shout out to – people who read early drafts of August Falling (well before it became August Falling) and whose contributions helped shape the book’s development.
Let me begin with Blaise van Hecke, who tirelessly reads everything I write – sometimes, she reads several different drafts. Blaise always puts herself in my headspace (and yet she’s still sane) and tries to help me get my stories to where I want them to go. This is pivotal. I’ve seen feedbackers who take over and drive the story in a direction incongruent with the author’s vision, so it’s a special talent to sync to the author’s wavelength.
Then there’s Kim Lock, who I met in Queensland during the 2013 Hachette Manuscript Development Program (for which Just Another Week in Suburbia was shortlisted). Kim always provides a perspective that nobody else has, and – moreover – it’s gotten to the point that if she’s scribbled on a hardcopy suggesting cuts, I cut unquestioningly.
Bel Woods is another who not only always offers fantastic feedback, but has such a great understanding about publishing trends and what’s hot and what’s not. We’ve repeatedly talked about publishing for hours on end. Given the breadth of her knowledge, some publisher should snap her up as a commissioning editor.
These three have read lots of my manuscripts. They must groan when they hear I’m working on new book, knowing that at some point I’ll ask them to read it. (I hope when they groan it’s not because of the book’s quality.) They’ve also offered encouragement and assurance through the journey – invaluable when rejections have battered me around.
For August Falling, I would also like to thank Helen Krionas, who read an early draft on her phone. She suggested the elimination of one character (which I was toying with at the time) and also helped me query pacing issues and the depth of the relationships involved. (You’ve got to really appreciate somebody who reads an early draft on a phone.)
Also, to Tom O’Connell; I think he read it the mundane way – on his computer. He helped give me another male perspective (especially on some of the emotionally rawer scenes), and helped me understand what was working with August and what wasn’t. Tom’s another talented editor who should get snapped up by some publisher (although he’s asked me to play the title role if the book is ever adapted, so he may be looking for a career change. No problem, if I have that power.)
All these people are talented authors in their own right with their own unique voices. Blaise and Kim have already been published, and I know that they will continue to produce books that will be widely read. For Bel, Helen, and Tom, it’s just a matter of time, and I eagerly await seeing their books on shelves.
Finally, thanks to my editor, Lucy Bell. Although we had some robust discussions on August Falling, I appreciate her keen eye, detailed feedback, and patience. While we didn’t always agree, I did consider all her suggestions (although I might have attacked some of them laterally) and August Falling is an infinitely better book than the draft Pantera Press first accepted.
You’ll read about these people in the acknowledgements (← hint to buy the book), as well as others who helped me.
I appreciate you all, and thank you for helping me with my writing.
Don’t forget! My launch is this Sunday – 2.00pm at Buck Mulligan’s!
Postscript: Still slow going on my work in progress, thanks to co-facilitating a weekend writing retreat at work, picking up a nasty bug, having that nasty bug develop into Erbola or something on Tuesday, and some unexpected computer problems.