I know we agreed the proofs, but…

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.)

4 thoughts on “I know we agreed the proofs, but…


    Just got my copy of Persona Non Grata! Reading slowly, my eyes not up to it…but I am so happy to have it…love it so far.

    Any word yet on an audio version?


    1. Hi Laurie,
      Good to hear from you! There’s still no word on audio I’m afraid. I’ve asked again but the person who would know is on holiday.
      Sorry about this – I promise I’ll let you know when I find out, as I realise the print version isn’t ideal for you.
      Best wishes,

  2. Ms. Downie…It took me several days to get through it, with my eyes the way they are, but I adored Persona Non Grata! Poor Tilla, and as always, poor Ruso! Wonderful characterizations…makes you want to just reach out and slap those silly stepsisters! Ruso’s relationship with Claudia is portrayed so deftly — it’s complicated and layered — and very real!

    Thank you again for hours of pleasure.

    Laurie Atwater

    1. Thank you, Laurie – I’m very glad it you thought it was worth the effort! And I am chasing the audio, honestly…

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