Any editor can tell you that there are some books they’ll never forget and will always be proud to be associated with, and the Raintree trilogy is definitely one—well, three—of those for me. From the moment several years ago (I forget how many, but two or three, I’d guesstimate) when Linda, Linda and Beverly (who are nothing like the Larry, Darrell and Darrell yahoos I just got a flashback of) told me the bare-bones outline of the trilogy, I was hooked.
Even at that early stage, the set-up and the characters were so well thought out and so compelling that I couldn’t help wondering how everything was going to play out, and what surprises were going to show themselves along the way. Since the point of my being here is to talk about the editorial end, though, not simply to gush, I’ll just say for now that the books didn’t disappoint (I win the Understatement of the Year Award for that line, just in case you were wondering) and move on to how I fit in.
In many ways, an editor is a facilitator, and that was a big part of my job when it came to Raintree. Because all three authors had to fit the trilogy in around their other writing projects, it was a long time ’til I got the OK from them to let the Powers That Be at Silhouette even know the books existed, and then we had to think about where and when to publish them. The “where” was easy, because we were in the planning stages for Silhouette Nocturne. The “when” was tougher, because we had to schedule the Raintree books so they wouldn’t compete with the authors’ mainstream pub dates, but we managed to solve that one, too.
And then the craziness began.
Publishers run on schedules, not just publication schedules, but schedules for writing copy, creating cover art and, most relevant of all in this case, handing in line edits, going over copy edits and galleys, and getting books on press. Suffice it to say that all those most relevant dates were not only ignored but pretty much blown to smithereens in the course of getting the trilogy to readers. In fact, we skipped the deflag (copy edit) and AA (Author Alteration aka galley) stages, something I wouldn’t feel comfortable doing with most books and authors. But this project had been so long in the making, and was coming from three authors I felt so comfortable trusting, that I was willing to go with my line edit—luckily, as a line editor I’m also a good copy editor—and a quick in-house proofread, and head to press.
Ideally, any trilogy gets edited in order, and that’s especially true when the three books take place simultaneously. Unfortunately, that wasn’t possible, so I edited the second book first, then the first, then the third. Hey, at least one was in order, right? Every one of them was late to Production, but it was Linda Howard’s INFERNO that was nearly the death of both of us. Now I can laugh, but at the time, editing it chapter by chapter as she e-mailed it, and e-mailing the final chapter to the office with literally two minutes to spare before I had to catch a train to meet a friend who was in town for a single night, was pretty much the dictionary definition of nerve-wracking.
It would have been less so, though, if I’d only had the editing part to worry about. But here’s where the facilitator part really came into play. We were so far beyond every production date known to man that I suspect heads were almost literally exploding in Toronto. I was doing a lot of soothing, a lot of reassuring and a lot of promising, even while I was frequently not entirely sure myself it was all going to come together before Drop Dead Date #142 passed. But I guess some things are meant to be, and Linda, Linda and Beverly were as committed to getting these books to readers as I was, and it did, in the end, come together.
Three of the most exciting books I’ve worked on—recipients of three gorgeous covers (and we all did some sweating over that, too, as we waited to see what the art department came up with)—made it out into the world and onto all three major bestseller lists. My hair stopped standing on end, all four of us started breathing again, and—sort of like what they say about childbirth—I forgot all the pain in the face of all the pleasure. And if Linda, Linda and Beverly ask me to do another trilogy, even if it means waiting a few more years and losing more sleep and fielding more frantic phone calls from the Keepers of the Schedules, I’d do it in a heartbeat.
L to R: Leslie Wainger, Linda Howard, Linda Winstead Jones and Beverly Barton