Backstory: Neither fish nor fowl
July 20, 2008
Where was I? Yes–How The You I Never Knew made it from my head to the printed page. It’s convoluted; bear with me.
So I had this big finished manuscript, around 120,000 words, a story from the heart that I really liked. But it was neither fish nor fowl. It wasn’t a historical romance, where I was finally finding some success. And it wasn’t one of the currently popular romantic suspense novels. It was…just a novel. But a good one, I thought.
My agent at the time (1996; we parted ways shortly afterward and I signed with the perfect-for-me agent) was in charge of pitching the book. There was a serious lack of communication about this process and according to this agent, no offer was forthcoming from my current publisher, so the plan was to take the book elsewhere. After several more mismatches (remember, I don’t believe in rejection, only in mismatches), it wound up in the hands of a really terrific editor who was then at Warner. (Now Grand Central Publishing.) Claire Zion is thoughtful, creative, meticulous and hands-on, which worked very well for me, particularly with this new direction. There were several things she did so wonderfully for this book. First, she acquired it for the publisher. Then she meticulously edited it–and then edited my rewrites. I switched part of the book from a first-person, present-tense narrative to third-past. She sent it to copy editing twice. I know many writers who would rather set their hair on fire than go through the wringer on a book like that, but I like a lot of input, particularly when I’m trying something new.
Finally, after quite some time, we got the book whipped into shape. The rest is a snap, right? The heavy lifting is over. This is when the writer gets to kick back, relax and enjoy the ride to the bookstores, right?
Sometimes, that’s exactly right. In my case, it was dead wrong. Disaster struck–stay tuned. I’ll post about the disaster and rising from the ashes tomorrow.