Chatting with my Editor Part 2

I'm chatting with my editor, Mary-Theresa Hussey, who's been working with me for the last nine years.  If you haven't read it, check out Part 1 here:

MTH: Maria--how do you see the revision process going?

MVS: The revision process is easier for me.  My first draft is always the hardest to write.  It's when I discover all the story elements and plot.  I start with a character, a situation, and a vague ending, but what happens along the way is usually unplanned.  Once the first draft is finished, then comes the fun part.  I'll do a revision and send it to Mary-Theresa.  When you returns it to me with your comments, I open the file and read through them all.  Then I need a day to calm down!  It's funny how when I first read them, I'll be annoyed, impatient, exasperated, depressed, and excited (when I get that rare smiley face).  These emotions don't happen at the same time--it's like a rollercoaster ride, depending on the comment.

But after a day, I realize you're right about everything and what you're not "getting" I need to explain/show it better.  And there are times I will ask for more details about why you don't like something and you always have a good explanation (grumble - more work for me).  It's very rare when we don't agree. Opal's choice in SPY GLASS is one example. And Kerrick's actions in the beginning of TOUCH OF POWER is another (I actually toned him down a bit!). I think we work well together. Your comments always improves the story.  Always.

Mary-Theresa--since my story proposals tend to be vague and I never follow them, I'm curious about your reaction to my first drafts.  For example, what was your first impression when TOUCH OF POWER arrived?

MTH: I have learned that you tend to follow the story more than the synopsis, but as long as it makes for something stronger, I'm all for it!

Usually I'll first read the manuscript through fairly quickly, just to enjoy the story and to read it as a reader will. But I'll also note places where I got confused or lost or the characters didn't seem consistent. Then I'll go through more slowly, this time making more detailed notes as I go along, and perhaps revising the first ones as things are revealed later. It used to be scribbles in the margins, but now I can type comments on the document, which makes transferring things much easier--though I do occasionally miss curling up in a chair with a manuscript and pencil! I did find that when I switched to commenting on screen it lost some of the immediacy of the good marginalia at first, but that comes back as I stop and "hear" the lines sing, or the endings twist. I then like to let it sit in my mind for another day or so while some things get fleshed out and other concerns come to the forefront. As it settles, the themes and overall structural issues fall into place. Then I will get ready to send back the manuscript with an overview about the larger issues that stopped me.

I always keep in mind the author's intentions and goals, but she is so close to the story that she doesn't always put onto the pages exactly what is meant by this or that. I try to pose my concerns as questions or the occasional what if you did this scenario, but I trust the author to come up with the answers that suit her story best.

TOUCH OF POWER was one of the stories I just gobbled up! The freshness of Avry's world, and her dilemmas was compelling. I still don't think I'd be as willing to take on the pains and scars of others though--the Healers have more generosity of spirit and body than I do! The differences in the Realms went beyond Ixia and Sitia, and I saw that you were creating a new world that was vivid and grounded in different ways. And though I had a couple of issues with the hero, he balanced out Avry's selflessness nicely!

Throughout the manuscript there were shadings of familiar elements as Avry struggled to understand her powers and place in the world, but the situations were so different, and her voice was all her own, that it just felt really new and exciting. I've always looked forward to Maria's stories, and seeing where she's going with them, but TOUCH OF POWER brought me back to some of the early excitement of my first loves--Yelena and Valek--and the wonder of discovering their worlds.

Asking around the office, you'll find that I was saying it was like when we first read POISON STUDY and were captured by that emotion all over again!

And while the manuscript bits are happening, we're also trying to find the perfect cover and copy to represent the book.

Maria -- How do you find that process?

Find out my answer in Part 3!


  1. I always have about that same reaction to getting my edit notes--usually accompanied by some grinding of teeth and the occasional meeping noise. But like you, Maria, I almost always end up agreeing that my agent or editor was right. Dammit.

    And the important thing is that after you're done, the book is the best it can be. (Yours are always spectacular, so I guess we have MTH to thank as well.)

    1. Thanks Deborah :) I'm glad I'm not the only one who needs time to adjust. I haven't heard about TASTE OF DARKNESS yet...not sure if that's a good or bad thing!

  2. Kade in Touch of Power? What did I miss? Need to go back and read it again!

    1. Oops! My bad - I fixed it :) I've been re-reading my Study and Glass books (just finished SEA GLASS last night) to get ready to write Study #4 and Kade's been in my mind.

    2. Hahaha O.K. then, thought I've missed something lol

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