Sunday 21 June 2020

Hard Work Behind The Scenes by Allison Symes

I’ve just returned to Gill the final version of the second book I’ve edited for Bridge House. It’s very different in content and tone from the first but the mixture of stories in this collection and the earlier one is fascinating. The Chapeltown collections are wonderfully diverse. I hope that will prove to be a good marketing tool. There is something in them for most people. I’m sure we can think of a use for that!

What is also fascinating to see is the hard work the writers have put into polishing their stories and getting them just so.

And editing is very much the thick end of the action! Pixabay image.
Have I learned a lot from the books I’ve worked on so far? Oh yes and I’m sure that will benefit me, not just as an editor, but for my writing work too.

Editing someone else makes you take a critical eye at your own writing and that is never a bad thing. You look at why you are suggesting amendments to an author and yes there will be good reasons for those suggestions. You then look back at your own writing and think I can apply this to myself too.

I think it can be forgotten that editing is creative too. Pixabay.
 So the hard work behind the scenes I see as a two-way thing. I’m thinking long and hard as to why an author needs to change something or, even more often, re-write something so it has a greater “oomph” impact on a reader later on.

I’m also looking for clarity. Often I know exactly what the author is trying to get across but a change of word order here, a restructuring of the sentence, a simplification of the words used and so on can all be used to good effect to make that “message” hit home much more powerfully.

Editing should make the impact of the stories so much more powerful for the reader. Authenticity matters!  Pixabay

 In one case, one letter change from exercise to exorcise has created a much stronger image in a reader’s mind (it did for me and I know it will for others!).  It was an appropriate change for the character and their situation too.

It is also lovely knowing the first book I’ve edited is now out there. Do I feel a kind of maternal pride in it? Oh yes (and Gill must feel this even more I would have thought). Am looking forward to seeing the second out in due course too.

The trusty red pen! Pixabay

I’ve been in a slightly odd situation that for the last couple of months I’ve been on both sides of the editing fence almost at the same time. Being edited is a strange but necessary experience. What got me, as it always does, is when my editor came back with things I hadn’t seen and I thought something along the lines of why the hell hadn’t I seen that?! 

But then that’s exactly why you need an editor.

And the one comfort here is I can take a shrewd guess at what the authors I’ve edited thought when they got my comments back! It is good to be able to reassure them, where necessary, that this is the nitty-gritty, the distinctively unglamorous side of writing, but it is where the work is done and what makes those stories shine.

And that’s what we all want when all is said and done.

If the characters feel to a reader as if they could step off the page, author and editor have done a good job! Pixabay

Thursday 18 June 2020

Publishing Tales from Where the Wall is Cracked by Paul Bradley


How we came to publish this one

We’re now only considering short story and flash fiction collections or children’s books by authors we already know. We have published other stories by Paul in our anthologies so when he approached us to have his work published we were pleased to do so.

The title

This was entirely Paul’s idea. It is quite apt. He pushes though the veneer where everything seems to be fine to show us the reality of life. But it’s not just a veneer that’s cracked. It’s a whole weight-bearing wall.     

The cover

The picture of the cracked wall reinforces the physical metaphor. We do allow our writers quite a lot of input into the cover design but there are certain things that we know about that authors on the whole don’t. However, discussions in this case were more about colour combinations than other more controversial matters. We found something in the end that worked commercially and went with the aesthetics of the work.     

Some notes about style

Many of the stories -  but not all -  are told in a first person narrative, each seven to ten pages long. They are all grounded in the sometimes disturbing reality of everyday life. They’re not horror stories and they tend towards the grey rather than the black. Yet there are glimmers of hope in several of the endings. Paul’s engaging style, which nods towards the literary, carries the reader through the murkier material.       

Who we think the reader is

These aren’t an easy read. They’re not stories for escapism except that maybe if you think your life’s not so good you may find it promising compared with some of the ones portrayed here. No doubt the strong writing will engage the more critical reader.     


This book is already in the black though we have yet to provide copies to the British Library and the Legal Deposit libraries. Paul had been very proactive in promoting his book. A radio interview led to a spike in sales.   

Reviews welcome, as always.   

Tuesday 16 June 2020

Editing others

Finalising Allison’s editing was fun. Now I’m settled in my new home writing and editing is natural again. Lockdown is weird but with the ease in restrictions I have escaped to the local park, giving a huge sense of belonging.

Bring on the next stories and in the meantime I have a little book of my own coming soon and  I’m finishing the first draft of my next Missy Dog book.