Wednesday, 12 January 2011

GOD COP and the editing process

HIDDEN is the first novel where I have properly experienced the editing process and it has been a combination of enormous fun, rigour, soul searching and extreme satisfaction. My editor at Meadowside Books, Lucy Cuthew, has more than anything allowed me to develop the more contentious issues on immigration and human rights law. I have been able to extend my research and write much more extensively around the issues which initially inspired me to write this novel. Young people need to be involved in this debate and I believe that fiction can help to present the facts.

But at the same time my editor has kept a close eye on the humour in the text and the flow of the narrative. Neither of us wanted to spoil the enjoyment of the unfolding story for the reader, for the sake of hammering home a point. Keeping that delicate balance has been one of the hardest things for me to do since starting the novel. With my editor to share the journey everything has fallen beautifully into place.

Lucy has also visited Hayling Island, the setting for all my three novels in the cycle, which shows her dedication to my work.

Once we had dealt with the nitty gritty of the text there seemed to be so many other things to work on. Was I being given more comments than any other author in history? I wondered at one point. But then I heard some more experienced writers discussing their experiences. It made me realise my editor had a light touch compared to some. I felt considerably cheered and felt that I could really embed myself from then on in the editing process and trust that together  Lucy and I could produce an even better book.

And then there were the howlers. I did warn Lucy that I was not great at copy editing. Finally Lucy did one final trawl through the text and phoned me up, "Miriam, I found something on almost every page," she said blithely, "but the best one was God Cop." We both cracked up.

In HIDDEN, the main character Alix has agreed to help hide an illegal immigrant until an organisation can be contacted to provide legal advice. But the police are aware that illegals are trying to come into the local beaches. They turn up at Alix's house one day and start questioning her. She hates lying to the police but she doesn't like the way one policeman barks at her and then the other one speaks nicely. She dubs them 'Good Cop/Bad Cop' like in the TV shows.
Need I say more?

If you are lucky enough to have as astute and dedicated an editor as me, go with it.I am a very contented author on the eve of publication.


  1. The proof-reading and copy-editing was the least enjoyable part of the whole writing process for me! Glad you survived it with a few laughs!
    So looking forward to reading the book in March!

  2. Tee hee this made me laugh - and I enjoyed the photographs too.

  3. Glad this raised a laugh folks - well you have to don't you? Its such a long and complicated process.

  4. wow can't wait to get an editor. I've read that both The Very Hungry Catapillar and Where the Wild Things Are would not exist without the input of editors.

  5. That's very interesting Heather. I wonder how true that is of other books.

  6. Thank goodness for editors and what a relief that phrase didn't find its way into your book. Good luck with your launch.

  7. Except Ros, a bit of me thinks - what a hoot if it had!

  8. I quite like the idea of a God Cop actually! Could be something in that Miriam … Looking forward to reading Hidden when it comes out in March. (Nice cover, by the way)


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