David Hill – Author Blog 4

I’ve spent quite a lot of time this week working on TWO novels. Does that sound impressive??

First, I’ve been going over the page proofs of a novel that’s coming out in June, called Brave Company. It’s about a teenage NZ seaman, who is on a NZ frigate during battles in the Korean War of the 1950s. Page Proofs are the final stage before the novel is actually published. Everything is set out exactly as it will be on the pages of the book, numbers and illustrations and all, and the author has to go – very carefully – through them, seeing if any mistakes have been made. There hardly ever are any; editors are a very efficient lot. But a final check is always a good idea.

The page proofs come after a series of stages in the making of a book. First, the author writes it. (Easy! Simple!) Then, if the publisher likes it and agrees to publish – and this often doesn’t happen; please don’t think that everything I write gets published – the editor will make suggestions on how to improve the book (add details here; cut bits out there; stop describing so much; stop the feeble jokes, etc) and author/editor work on these till they agree. This part can take weeks. After that, the designers make suggestions about cover, set-out, illsutrations / maps / diagrams, etc. And then come the page proofs.

The second book I’ve been working on is one I wrote over the winter / spring / summer. It’s about a NZ teenager in the 1970s who somehow gets involved in French nuclear tests in the Pacific. How? You’ll have to read the book – if it ever gets published. If that does happen, it won’t be till next year. I researched it, I wrote the first draft. I wrote the second draft. I wrote the third…..   And now I’m going over and over it, taking out a sentence on Monday, putting half of it back on Tuesday, getting the book as good as I can before I submit it.

So that’s what the author’s life can be like. It can also be full of pleasure. When you write anything – a book, a story, a poem, a letter – you make something that never existed in the world before. It’s special. It’s unique. And that’s something that nobody can ever take away from you. So the very best of luck with your own writing and reading.

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