Discouraging news

Posted at Aug 7, 2007 9:37 am

Well- here is what I got from editor #1. The one who suggested the changes and had read my original. (Not the one with the missed subway stop- she hasn’t written back yet.)

Thank you so much for sending the revision of The Hartfield Affair. The author did such a subtle, intelligent job here—not just addressing the concerns but also maintaining the integrity of the original piece, which not an easy thing to do. I’m drawn to this book for its connection to Sherlock Holmes, but also because it’s about a strong girl. Ultimately, though, I’m not convinced teens would find this irresistible. Dora’s voice and perspective seem far removed from that of a teenager’s, so I’m not sure readers will relate strongly to her. There is so much exposition, and probably not enough drama, tension, and emotion for teens to invest in the somewhat dense writing style which is beautifully done and accurate for the genre, but nonetheless a challenge. It occurs to me that the book might be strengthened if Watson’s passages were sacrificed for more of Dora’s, but even then, I’m not sure that Dora’s current voice would work for the audience. Dora is so self-assured right from the start. She doesn’t make very many mistakes, and she behaves like a much older woman…a cross between a spinster and a female version of Holmes himself. She doesn’t seem to have the sensibilities of a teenager, and I think that would be necessary in order to hook teens. A little romance wouldn’t hurt either, and in fact could be the perfect ingredient in a historical fiction like this. I don’t know, maybe that’s impossible to do and still have the whole Holmes connection. After all, Holmes specifically requires her to be objective and behave like an adult and clearly wouldn’t tolerate anything less. But maybe she could unwittingly become infatuated with a man who starts out simply as a source of information? Somehow I think there needs to be more focus on Dora, and more going on for her (that’s why I’m wondering if Watson’s sections should come out). Maybe she could become friendlier (or more emotionally involved) with one of the servants like Agatha (right now she keeps herself so aloof)? I don’t know if these are good ideas, but they hopefully give a sense of the kind of thing I think is missing here. Part of the book is about Dora discovering who she is, and perhaps the mystery needs to tie into that more closely, or perhaps through uncovering the mystery, Dora makes realizations about herself and her life? I’m not sure what the solution here is, but somehow this text would need to have more appeal for teens to work in the current market. I would still be happy to see another revision, if the author had any ideas for addressing these issues. Especially since the author is so good at revising. It would be great if it works out. Either way, thank you so much for sending this revision, and please thank the author for me. 

Well- There it is. Positive overall- but not an offer. I really don’t want to make the above changes. The whole idea of the romance- that is in the sequel. It’s too soon in the first (in my opinion) and I wanted to develop Dora more before I have her fall in love with anyone. Besides- can you imagine Holmes’s reaction- she’s swooning over some guy so soon after they meet? It would just confirm his low opinion of females in general and I think he would send her back immediately to her guardian. Also I do not want to take Watson’s parts out. I love Watson. He is so integral to the novel as it is- and his view of Dora is interesting. (To me anyway) 
I’m sad. But I suppose this is just part of the process. I have to go see my patients. It’s hard to concentrate.

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