Works in Progress

The Night Girl

The photograph on the right is a temporary book cover for my fourth novel, The Night Girl. The picture of the young woman is by Caleb Coppola and the picture of the Toronto Dominion building in Toronto’s Financial District is by Sam Javanrouh of Daily Dose of Imagery. Both photographers kindly gave their permission for me to use their work, and Caleb was kind enough to Photoshop the two photographs together in a way I was not capable of.

It’s a temporary cover, to hold a place on this page until I formally submit The Night Girl. After that, who knows? Maybe the publisher would like to commission these two photographers professionally for their cover work. I think it’s an excellent cover.

I got the idea for this from Erin, whose new website is coming on line. She got permission to use a photograph and used it to draft a temporary cover for Plain Kate. But I think we can both expect our final book covers to be something other than what we’ve composed, here. Book publishers have their own idea about what sells, and what catches eyes on the bookshelves. I’ve been very pleased with Dundurn, my publisher’s cover design for the Unwritten Books series. In all cases, the final product was something different than what I originally foresaw. They also didn’t have just one candidate. And be sure to check out R.J. Anderson’s website, where you’ll see that the British and American publishers for her upcoming novel have different ideas not only on how it should look, but what it should be called.

It’s strange how these things work, but these publishers are professionals, and I should probably just stand back and let them weave their magic. But if they do decide to make use of my temporary cover for The Night Girl, I know of two photographers who will be happy.

I’m now up into the second chapter of the rewrite of The Night Girl. Not many changes have been needed, so far, barring isolated words here or there. I think The Night Girl and The Dream King’s Daughter share the same feature: a good strong beginning, and a story that doesn’t quite sustain itself to the end. Which can be frustrating. It’s nice to catch the reader from the get-go, but… when you shop the book out to be critiqued by fellow authors, they tend to focus on the early chapters and leave you on your own for the later ones.

Late last year, Margaret Hart, my agent, sent out The Night Girl to an editorial reader, to get a professional opinion about what the strengths and the weaknesses of the story were. All of the advice was good, but the bulk of it concerns the later chapters. Why am I not revising there? Because the story as a whole has to be changed, I think. If I don’t put in little set-ups at the beginning of the rewrite, the major changes won’t feel right when I put them in. So, I’m starting at the beginning, with a copy of my story as a bound manuscript beside me, manually retyping it into the computer. So far, I’m making small changes and adding details here and there.

Here’s some advice from the reader that I’m focusing on at the moment:

In terms of the rest of the story, the author needs to put a little more thought into the concept of goblins and humans sharing the same environment, and into the characteristics of the goblins and other creatures. He is building a world here, but we can’t see all of it yet. The author needs to think carefully about the goblins and their goals and aspirations, for want of a better phrase. How exactly do they fit into the human world? They aren’t quite discriminated against if humans don’t know they exist. Because their situation is central to the plot of the book, the reader must really understand their feelings, their differences from humans, and so on. And who are the goblins resting in suspended animation in the floor below Earthenhouse’s office? If he needs to make a lot of money to keep them, we need to see the reason why. As it is now, they are buried there but we have no sense of how many or who they are.

Finally, although setting the book in the real city of Toronto is a good idea, more could be made of this. We see some landmarks, but the author could include more and give the reader more of a sense of the place.

Right now, as we’re only in chapter two, with we as the readers as unaware of the extent of the goblin world as Perpetua is, won’t see much, but I’m putting in small details that I hope readers can pick up on second reading (and have Perpetua go “oh, yeah!” when the truth comes out). But I’m moving forward, towards the major details, and major changes, that have to take place… Wish me luck.

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