Longtime Book Country member Marshall Maresca is back on the blog today to unveil the gorgeous cover for his first book, THE THORN OF DENTONHILL, which was workshoppped in the Book Country community and was picked up for publication by DAW Books. The book will go on sale in February 2015.
We are very excited about this! Congratulations, Marshall!
“Done” is a tricky word in this business.
By which I mean, I was “done” with THE THORN OF DENTONHILL—the rough draft of it—in September 2008. Of course, that’s just a rough draft, so that isn’t done. Really, a year later, I had finished my edits and was querying to agents. Then it was “done”.
Of course, the interested agents asked for rewrites. One of them was quite substantive. I ended up adding over twenty thousand words to the manuscript, though in retrospect , it was quite necessary. After going through that, I had a stronger manuscript that secured my agent. Then it was “done”.
After we had received some rejections, he suggested doing some re-writes based on the comments from rejecting publishers. I agreed, and spent a summer doing them. So then, for real, I named that file “THORN OF DENTONHILL FINAL DRAFT” and it was absolutely, positively, no take-backs DONE.
And that’s what sold.
Of course, selling it meant that THORN now faced a round of edits with my editor. So: still not done.
I have to confess, I was nervous about the editorial process. I had heard horror stories about what editors demanded. Worst-case scenarios spun through my brain. What would I be asked to do? Remove some of the minor characters? Change the gender of a main character? Add in a new romantic subplot? Re-write in in modern-day Chicago?
It turns out, I shouldn’t have been worried at all. My editor—Sheila Gilbert of DAW Books—is fantastic. I’ll just flat out say that, because it’s true. Part of why she’s fantastic is because she finds books she believes in, and then she champions them. She understood THE THORN OF DENTONHILL, which is why she wanted it in the first place. She wasn’t interested in making it something it wasn’t.
To give you some insight about what the editorial process was like, she didn’t tell me “this is what you need to change”. Instead, she would ask questions. About the characters, about the backstory, about the world. Most of the time, these were questions I am completely able to answer. A few were things I thought I had answered in the text, and I was surprised to discover they weren’t entirely clear.
She also brought up things I hadn’t necessarily thought of. Consequences of actions, unexplored connections between characters, possible meanings of events. A new perspective that challenged notions that had been set in my brain after so many years.
Plus, she pinged me on how much I injured my poor protagonist over the course of the book. I may have given him a bit more punishment than a human body can reasonably take and keep going.
When it came down to it, the editorial process was one of inquiry, not dictation. It strengthened and built the text, rather than altered it. At no point did I feel like there was something I needed to fight. Everything she told me felt organic and natural, that it had come from a place of understanding exactly what I was doing.
One thing I never felt was that I was being told something to make it “more marketable”, especially at the expense of the story or the characters. It was always about making the book the best it could be.
The other day a fellow writer told me, “you usually only hear the editorial horror stories because those are the fun ones to tell”. That sets the fear in our hearts that the process is always going to be a horror. That it’s going to be this adversarial relationship, you’re going to have to fight for your book.
You are going to have to fight for your book, but your editor is usually the one in your corner, watching your back.
So now I have a manuscript for THE THORN OF DENTONHILL that is truly, absolutely for real done. Six years, from beginning to end. Of course, that time didn’t involve just working on THORN. I also wrote A MURDER OF MAGES, coming out later next year, and a few other things that you’ll hopefully be hearing about in the near future.
It’s really been an incredible process, finally finishing Thorn so it’s ready to go out into the world. I honestly couldn’t be happier: with my editor, with my publisher, and especially with this gorgeous cover. But most of all, I’m excited. Now that this stage of the process is done, I’m ready to move on to whatever comes next.
About Marshall Maresca
Connect with Marshall on Book Country and follow him on Twitter @MarshallMaresca. Visit him on the web at blog.mrmaresca.com. Marshall is represented by Mike Kabongo of the OnyxHawke Agency, and his fantasy novels THE THORN OF DENTONHILL and A MURDER OF MAGES will be published by DAW Books in 2015.