Tuesday, 15 November 2011

The Beautiful Mystery

many sunny, very mild, temps 16

Wow - very mild. We're finding the seasons seem to have been shifted by a month. November is like October...Sept like August used to be...

We're in Montreal - stopped by Nespresso to get a new machine...tired of fighting with the old one - though it owed us nothing. We'd used it many times a day, everyday, for years. And it still works - sort of. Trying to decide what to do with it. Give it to someone handy, I think.

The fun news is that I heard from the publisher himself yesterday. He called twice...once I was out doing errands and he (Andy) spoke to Michael....and the second time I was in. He called to say he'd just read THE BEAUTIFUL MYSTERY, the eighth Gamache novel - and loved it. Indeed, he said he was trembling at the end and actually stayed home Monday morning to finish the book. Then had to call to tell me it was his favorite.

It was one of those calls an author (or at least this author) dreams of getting. Not only because it says something about the book - but it speaks so beautifully of Minotaur Books, my US publisher....that the head of the imprint himself would call. I've heard, of course, from my wonderful editor- and we worked on the editorial notes together....but to actually hear from the publisher is amazing. Incredibly passionate about books, and publishing - and so supportive. Wow.

I'm so excited to get THE BEAUTIFUL MYSTERY into your hands. We don't have a set publishing date yet, but it will probably be sometime next fall.

Someone asked a very good question on my Facebook page today about why it won't be out for 10 months when the book seems finished.

One of the great discoveries for me about the publishing industry is how very many decisions need to be made - and all the care that goes in to getting a book out. For instance, while the editorial decisions have been made - those to do with content and continuity and character and those sorts of things....the book still needs to be given to someone who specializes in doing the 'line edits'....that's for the most part spelling and grammar and some issues of continuity we haven't yet caught...if someones eyes are blue in one scene and brown in another...or if Gamache and Beauvoir are on their third lunch of the day. For those of you with an eye for this sort of thing, you'll know that even with all this scrutiny and very hard work, mistakes still sneak through.

She'll finish those notes in January and send them to me....I'll then go over the manuscript again. This actually happens a couple of times before we're happy and feel it's ready for you.

There is just an incredible amount of work that goes in to a book, long after the actual content is decided. Basically the process is:

I write five or six drafts of the book, until I'm pleased with it. Then I send it to my agent in London (Teresa Chris) - if she's happy, she'll send it to my UK editor (Dan Mallory at Little, Brown) and my US editor (Hope Dellon at Minotaur Books). They read it and get back with their notes....which are pretty much wanting to make sure the characters are consistent with their personalities, time-lines make sense - the structure and pacing and flow are good....there are no plot holes. They act as sophisticated, knowledgeable, rational 'readers'....since by then it's often very difficult for me to be able to stand far enough back to appreciate things like structure and pacing.

They'll give me their suggestions (and they are just suggestions....they never insist and never, ever make the changes themselves, but leave it up to me). I read their notes and think about them for a while - then do another draft - making the changes I think are appropriate. We can sometimes go back and forth a few times, fine-tuning as we go.

It's an amazing, quite intimate, process. On the one hand it's highly solitary. I conceive of the story, the tone, the plot and character development. Then they come on board...and as the process progresses it becomes a team effort. Not a committee - but a team. Each member has their expertise. Editing, grammar, marketing, publicity, strategy, cover design.

It's very satisfying and very powerful when everyone respects and appreciates the contribution of the other....and no one becomes a bully. We all have a place at the table, and have earned that place and earned the right to be heard.

I have a lot invested in it - emotionally, creatively - with my time and efforts. But so do the publishers - with their time and effort - and money. It all needs to be respected and valued.

Once the editing is done then the Advance Readers Copies - or ARCs - are printed. These are mostly for bookstore owners, libraries, critics...opinion makers. People who will read the book and pass judgement.

It's pretty nauseating, for a writer - for this writer. Ugh. I literally feel sick. I know it shouldn't matter - and when I wake up at 3am, anxious, I repeat that I've done my best...as long as I've done my best, that's all that I can ask of myself. The rest is up to others, and the Universe.

That helps. A lot. Until the next night. I suppose if I didn't care so much, I wouldn't worry so much. If I didn't put so much into the books, and genuinely care about the characters and you, the reader....then I might be more cavalier. but I think the person capable of writing the books is also the person who is vulnerable. It's the full package. I get the joy when things go well, and the heartache when they don't. That's the adult reality...can't have one without accepting the other.

Which is why, when the publisher himself calls, raving about THE BEAUTIFUL MYSTERY, I subside into a chair, my legs weak but my heart strong and soaring. Phew.

Then - decisions about cover design start. And strategies of which week is best to put it out...what other books might come out then - when is it best to tour? Where should I go?

I'll be going to NYC in early December to meet with the publisher and discuss these things.

What a very long answer to a single question! I dare you to ask another!

Thanks for sticking with me - presuming you're still reading. Hope you're enjoying this late autumn day. We're off to lunch at the Tavern on the Square.


barbara sanchez said...

Keep up the good work. I do so enjoy the results. I have read mysteries since I was ten and yours are some of the best.

Anonymous said...

Louise - You deserve all the best! Your books are so wonderful and we are going along on the best ride with you. There are few books that I want to reread . Yours are the ones I read again and again and I even listen to them on audio. You have invested so much life into these characters. I can't wait to read what's next!
Karen L. in Iowa

A. Wright said...

Not only wonderful news for you, Louise, but for all of us who are already salivating over "The Beautiful Mystery." Personally I can't wait, but must. Sigh.



Ann from Boston said...

You are a such a fabulous writer. It is so wonderful to follow your blog and really get a view of your process. You, obviously, love what you do and love your life and it shows everywhere. I love the village of Three Pines and want to visit there.

You MUST go to The Chelsea Market when you visit NYC in December.

Jennifer Williams-Laroche said...

That was so interesting -- I knew that a lot more goes in to the publishing of a book than meets the eye, but the detail you provided and the description of the process were fascinating. If this next book has had such an impact on your publisher, then I am keener than ever to get my hands on a copy. As I gallop ever faster towards middle-age, time has become such a precious commodity that I rarely wish it away. This is one of those rare occasions: roll on next fall!

Melody said...

Congrats on the exciting phone call. Now, I'm going to have to anticipate The Beautiful Mystery for months...

Love your books, they are worth the wait.

Beth Kahler said...

I had never read mysteries, but my friends talked me into reading yours..... because of the language...they
said. I am still reading. I have tried to read the endings several times, but it has never worked out!!! Great stories. Thank you. Beth

Anonymous said...

I do not like the wait---but! it is really worth it!

danielle-momo said...

Je suis si contente pour vous !
Et comme j'ai hate de lire The Beautiful Mystery...

Linda said...

What a delight to find your blog. I have been reading through the series at lightning speed. The very first book I downloaded on my new Kindle was "A Trick of the Light."
I love a good mystery, but I love great writing even more. It is the writing that has drawn me to your books - the careful crafting of the characters whom I have grown to love.
Thank you for sharing your gift.

Elizabeth said...

I have always wondered why it takes so long for a book to get into the hands of a reader after the author has finished writing. Thank you so much for detailing the process. As an author you are surprisingly appreciative of the other participants in the process. I am sure that makes for a very positive working environment for your "team." Thank you not only for your wonderful books, but also for allowing us to peek into your life and process through this blog!

Anonymous said...

I agree with Linda - it is the writing that drew me in. Absolutely lovely to read - I have recommended you to many friends, and they love your books now too!
Congratulations on the review!

Reine said...

I wouldn't miss one of your books, Louise. They've been a great gift to my sanity, and I am so looking forward to the next!

Barbara said...

I have enough experience with editors and publishers to appreciate how you felt about your publisher's call. Now that's rare! Your books are great stories but the care you and the rest of the team take with the books is another reason they are so successful. Looking forward to the publishing date.

Colombine said...

C'est si intéressant de lire votre cheminement et toutes les étapes inhérentes à la production d'un bouquin.

Félicitations pour le 8ième... on a très hâte de le lire.

Donna said...

Thank you, that says it all to me, thank you.

Roslyne said...

Wanted you to know have just been given 'Trick of Light' by my sister in law with your signature on it. Soooo thrilled.

I note i can now pre-order 'A Beautiful Mystery' from Fishpond so will be doing that to keep up to date with all of the books.

Wonderfully Written and so intriguing, you do a truly magnificant job.


Anonymous said...

Just discovered your Three Pines series in June 2012 and have read 3 of them already with 4 on my bedside table to be read. I love them and love the character of Armand Gamache. Wish you'd come to Barnes & Noble in Manchester, NH to promote "A Beautiful Mystery." Your writing is superb.

Brian said...

Beautiful Mystery, hardcover, page 9

Beauvoir did the math. He was ten years older than… should have been 'she,' not 'her.'

Brian said...

Just finished The Beautiful Mystery. It is an engaging, and educational, story. Educational in that whilst reading, I frequently looked up a word to know more about the word. At times, it is easy to forget that this is a work of fiction - there are many descriptors within that apply to one's self or one's own surroundings. Some of the writing is magically brilliant, and the story flows well.

I had written the previous comment regarding the wrong pronoun on page 9. I've pondered that since. One shouldn't have to be distracted in reading by 'mistakes' in the writing. It is like enjoying a barefoot walk in the shallow waters of a sandy beach in a remote lake during a beautiful sunset; then stepping on a piece of glass left behind by some … It tends to ruin the moment, disrupts the flow, and erases the positive emotions. The pronoun identified in my previous comment was not the only such error that broke my enjoyment of the story - it happened several times. When it is dialogue, it could be argued that that is how people speak. When it is not in dialogue, it is what it is - an error. The other thing that bothered me was the misspelling - the setting is in Canada, the characters are Canadian, the languages spoken are Canadian French and Canadian English - sadly, and distractingly, the written language was American English. Why? To cater to an American audience? Why? Are they perceived to be so dumb that they wouldn't be able to understand that Canadian English and American English are different? Give the American readers more credit - let Canadians speak Canadian. And use the right pronouns!

My bottom line here is that The Beautiful Mystery is a good read, and worth the price of the hardcover (which mysteriously, has a higher Canadian price than an American price during a time when the Canadian dollar has a higher value than the US dollar - not a beautiful mystery) As mentioned, there is also a lot that can be learned from this novel.

Anonymous said...

Loved the idea of the latest Gamache novel. Please, please rethink your use of the F word. There is too much of it around! We get the mind set of Inspector B. We get the fact that drug use has set him on a terrible course. You are far to good an author, one that I cherish to stoop to this addition to the English language.
In South Dakota