I’ve received the first chunk of the edit of Nights of Villjamur from Peter Lavery. It came with a slip saying “Hope it’s not too much of a shock”. I looked at the manuscript. I laughed.
Time to lose the ego.
It’s funny, because I’ve seen interviews where Neal Asher talks about Peter’s scary pencil. I sent a brief message to another Macmillan author, Alan Campbell, whose first response was “I hope Peter hasn’t been too ruthless with his pencil”. So when it came through, what else could I do but chuckle?
This is a bit of an ode to editorial work. When someone reads a book, they might catch a typo or two, and say, ‘Who the hell edited this?’ That’s just the copy-editing (a tough job also, but that’s the next stage). What Peter has done is quite amazing, on a sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph level, making dull areas shine with his sleight of hand. You can think you have a perfect sentence, and he’ll change one word for another and it’s hugely improved. I’ve laughed countless times already at how he’s made something work better, some dialogue sharper. Editors as good as Peter can make the book work much, much with a few suggestions. And he’s worked on other SF and Fantasy greats, including China Miéville and Hal Duncan, so with such a pedigree, who am I to argue?
Books are never completed by just one person. A team is involved, and they rarely get the credit that they deserve. I’m only a short way into working through the edits and comments, and I can already see I’ll be owing much thanks to him.