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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Look at Alex Van Helsing ARCs and an interview with Laura Arnold of HarperTeen

A couple of interesting items today:

First, Inkpop has a very interesting interview with HarperCollins editor Laura Arnold, my own editor on Alex Van Helsing, the series I've been working on but which, of course, hasn't seen the light of day yet.

In the interview, Arnold talks about what must be a maddening part of the job: offering critiques of works in progress. Now, I have to say I've never actually worked with any editor as thorough as Arnold, so I don't know if all of them are this detailed, but you gotta be impressed at the process:

Arnold will often talk about the plot and discuss whether it makes sense, is logical, and moves at a good pace. Then, onto characters. “Are the characters acting in ways that seem consistent with, well, their characters?” Arnold says. “We’ll talk about the voice of the narration: does it feel too young or too old? Is the content of the story in line with the voice and the audience? Later on we’ll work on the details—individual sentences, word choices. I go line by line through the manuscript, and then I send it to the author for his or her review.

It's a thorough, back-breaking process. It's got to be mind-numbing. I've seen massive, three-page, single-spaced critiques. By the time the book sees print, AVH#1 will have been edited more than any work I've ever done-- which, honestly, I'm thankful for. I don't know about other writers, but my favorite part of writing is the big push, laying out heaps and pages of work. The details are every bit as important but I have to be dragged to them. The first one is a sort of art, the second is craft, and craft is work, and you have to compel yourself or be compelled to work. With a good editor, you've got someone forcing you to work.

Mind you, I love the craft. I love the nuts and bolts. But I'm still in awe of how these guys love it more.

Oh, hey- as noted on my official Alex Van Helsing blog:

Check this out-- just got back from Christmas travel and waiting at the front door was a box of Alex Van Helsing: Vampire Rising "ARCs"-- that is, Advanced Review Copies, essentially paperback versions of the upcoming hardback. The typography for the cover is not final-- in fact, there's a big red PROOF label on the cover indicating that nothing whatever about it the book is technically final. But of course it's pretty darn close, because now is that time.

Still and all, Alex's first adventure in print is for the first time in some sort of printed form, and that's pretty cool.

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