The arrival of a box of shiny and very lovely copies of ‘Persona Non Grata’ reminds me of a statement attributed to Paul Gardner – that a painting is never finished: it just stops in interesting places. You could say the same for a novel.
Part of the editor’s job is to wrest the manuscript out of the hands of the author at the appropriate moment. I’m sure I can’t be the only writer who, given half a chance, would carry on tweaking the text long after the proposed publication date – but not necessarily improving it.
I shan’t be going as far as the apocryphal author who was once seen on a train pencilling amendments into the paperback edition of his own novel, but will confess a grovelling email to the nice folk at Bloomsbury along the lines of, ‘I know we agreed the proofs, but could you possibly just change…’
Email is a silent medium, so the polite and helpful reply failed to convey the sound of people banging their heads on their desks and cursing.
The U.K. proofs are already corrected and over the next few weeks I’ll try to restrain the urge to offer Penguin a few last-minute improvements. In the meantime I hope American readers will find that Ruso’s third adventure has stopped in an interesting place.
Incidentally, Margaret Donsbach and I had a chat about Persona Non Grata recently over at Historical Novels.Info – see her blog entry for 2 July. (While you’re over there, anyone who’s ever considerered penning some historical fiction will enjoy her ‘writing tips‘ page.)