Friday, 6 January 2012

Back to the grindstone

Before I talk about work, may I offer a really heartfelt thank you to all who have sent either Marcia or me an email wishing us a happy new year. Sadly, we shan't be able to answer them all as there were too many but they have done much to lift our spirits. Thank you.

Those of you who have been following my weekly ramblings will know that the next book to come out will be called The Sea Garden and most of the action takes place either down on the River Tamar or in the town of Tavistock. Well, the copy editing arrived yesterday and with Marcia in full flight writing away on her new book it falls to me to work through the manuscript on her behalf.

Yvonne Holland has been copy editing Marcia's books and always does a superb job. She checks everything - and I do mean everything. She makes sure there are no errors in spelling, grammar or punctuation. She acts as a continuity girl making sure that there are no inconsistencies in the storyline. Everything factual is checked and sometimes re-checked. She is fantastic and has often stopped there being some real cloddies dropped. Some of these would be very embarrassing - for example there is a cafe in Tavistock mentioned in The Sea Garden which is in Brook Street but Marcia had said Duke Street. Brook Street is an extension of Duke Street and so the mistake is easy to make but, even so, Marcia would have been mortified if this error had slipped through the net.

Even so,it is up to the author to decide whether or not to accept the copy editor's suggestions. Obviously most of them are fine and so I can do the bulk of the work. If Yvonne suggests something that I feel Marcia should check, I flag it and then she takes over. Then comes the tedious bit - I work through the manuscript as we have it on the computer and make all the corrections. This is because some of the foreign publishers like to start work on the books before they are published and we feel that they should have the finalised manuscript from which to work.

So, if you want to know what I am doing next week it is the copy editing of The Sea Garden and Marcia will be writing - which makes me a bit worried: what on earth will there be to tell you about next week?

Meanwhile it is, of course, Twelfth Night. The Christmas Angel opens on this night with the words: "The Holy Family live in an old linen shoebag". They do, too. As with nearly all the dogs you read about in Marcia’s novels, Auntie Gabriel, the Holy Family and the rest of the Christmas bits and pieces are based on reality: they all live with us As they are all packed away to await next Advent we shall share with Jakey a sense of sadness but it will be tempered by the memories of a wonderful Christmas Day shared with some really lovely friends.
For those who have not already met her, here is Auntie Gabriel flanked by her two acolytes.

The Holy Family grouped outside their old barn on my grandmother's writing table.