I have been working on this book for almost two years now, and finally to call it a day and hand it over was quite an effort. The short wait for an editorial response hasn’t been easy – (irritable? me?) – but the imminent meeting to discuss the text with the very senior commissioning editor and her desk editor wasn’t an enticing prospect either. In this fragile state it’s too easy to imagine a disappointed response, dismay, even regret (‘Not quite what we’re looking for, after all’). I am not a natural optimist. So, trudging through the rain to the HarperCollins offices this morning I felt like a condemned person.
Actually, I’m sure it wasn’t a song for them either. Authors are protective of their beloved, and the tenor of these meetings is essentially critical… ‘Ahem. This is what you haven’t done; this is where you haven’t given it enough oomph; these are the dangling ends; and THIS is where there is far, far too much of your eager but essentially tedious background research…’ There’s probably plenty of unnerving scope for criticism to be too negative, and even more – writers being what they are – for it to be negatively received.
But, phew. This time they do like it. Genuinely. Of course there’s work to be done. None of it major. Most importantly, I’ve been so intent on managing my ambitious plot and painting the Victorian scene and marshalling the detail about theatre magic that I’ve let the characters go cool towards the end. It will take only a little pruning and a handful of scenes to be inserted or warmed up, and it’s easy to see how that can be done, but the criticism is so right that I can’t wait to get going on the job.
Apart from this, there was lovely discussion of cover ideas, and dates for the various editions. The hardback (probably) will be out in March next year (almost certainly).
Oh, and they want a different title. To me it has always been THE ILLUSIONISTS, but the call is for something more personal, more intimate. I’m thinking.