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A Conversation With Author & Editor Susan Mary Malone
http://www.bookpleasures.com/websitepublisher/articles/6544/1/A-Conversation-With-Author-amp-Editor-Susan-Mary-Malone/Page1.html
Norm Goldman


Reviewer & Author Interviewer, Norm Goldman. Norm is the Publisher & Editor of Bookpleasures.com.

He has been reviewing books for the past fifteen years when he retired from the legal profession.

To read more about Norm Follow Here






 
By Norm Goldman
Published on November 22, 2013
 


Norm Goldman, Publisher & Editor of Bookpleasures.com Interviews Author & Editor Susan Mary Malone


                                                                                                                                                                                 

Today, Bookpleasures.com is excited to have as our guest Susan Mary Malone. Susan is an award-winning editor and is the author of I Just Came Here to Dance and By the Book, and four co-authored nonfiction books, including What’s Wrong with My Family? 

She holds a BS in Political Science and minors in English and Journalism and her professional background includes working as an editor, columnist and reporter for newspapers and magazines.

In business as an editor since 1993, her edited books have been featured in Publishers Weekly, and won numerous awards. 

Her clients include NY Times Bestselling author Mary B. Morrison, and Essence Bestselling author Naleighna Kai. Other notable edited books include: The Things I Could Tell You (Jeremy Woodson was nominated for an NAACP Literary award); O'Brien's Desk (a Publishers Weekly Spring Pick to Watch); Ida Mae Tutweiler and the Traveling Tea Party (made into a Hallmark film), among many others.

She also participates as speaker at many literary conferences, including the Harriett Austin Writer's Conference (at the University of Georgia), the Blue Ridge Writer's Conference, the SouthWest Writer's Conference, the Lexicon conference, among others.


Norm: 

Good day Susan and thanks for participating in our interview. 

How did you get started in writing and editing? What keeps you going? 

Susan:

Thank you for having me, Norm!

As with most authors, I’ve pretty much always written. I’m famous in my family for really bad poetry, starting in first grade J

The editing was actually something I never aspired to—it just happened. Two decades ago, I was in a writer’s workshop, and we passed manuscripts back and forth between us. I had a knack for figuring out what wasn’t working and why, and more importantly, how to fix the problems. My colleagues buried me in manuscripts  So, I opened my business.

What keeps me going is simple: The love of the written word.

 

Norm: 

I understand that you are a developmental editor. What exactly is a developmental editor and how do you go about working with authors in editing their books?

Susan:

Developmental editing is quite different from copy editing or proofing. Basically, I take the book apart, separating it into all elements (although they are all interrelated in the end)—characterization, plotting and pacing, voice and tone, organization and structure, flow, all stylistic elements, etc. I define what’s working, and why. I show what isn’t working, and why. And most importantly, I give a litany of suggestions and examples of how to fix the problems, specifically where and when and how. It’s a very involved process.

As the writer goes through revisions, I’m here to bounce off of—for as long as he needs me. All writers need good editors for this—the revision process doesn’t occur in a vacuum.

Then he sends it back to me and I go over it again, to make sure the manuscript is ready to market. That way, no pesky snakes sneak out from under rocks down the road to bite us.

Norm: 

What do you think makes a good story?

Susan:

Lots of things! But in a nutshell, compelling characters. Because characters drive the plot. Then, enough plot points to keep the story moving, challenging the characters, forcing them to grow, leading to more plot points and conflict. I am also a fool for a beautiful voice. 

Norm:

What would you like to say to writers who are reading this interview and wondering if they can keep creating, if they are good enough, if their voices and visions matter enough to share? 

Susan:

This is a marathon, not a sprint. It takes a long time to hone your voice. And so very long to learn all the elements of great writing. But it’s those who persist who make it in publishing. It is a brutal business, so hang onto your hat! I’m fond of that Rilke quote from Letters to a Young Poet: “Ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: must I write?” If the answer is yes, then all the hardships and heartaches are worth it. It’s just what we do. 

 Norm:

What's the most difficult thing for you about being a writer and editor? 

Susan:

Managing time. I love both aspects of what I do, and tend to work very long hours. Sometimes I write more than edit, and vice versa. But I strive to keep a balance—which isn’t easy! 

Norm:

In fiction as well as in non-fiction, writers very often take liberties with their material to tell a good story or make a point. But how much is too much?

Susan:

In non-fiction, you don’t get liberties. Everything must be factual. But with fiction, the sky’s the limit. I counsel my writers to let their creativity soar, to let go of their characters and follow where they take them. So many first novels are autobiographical, and that hampers a new writer. So I have them write it from another character’s point of view. Or change from first person to third to get distance. There are a lot of tricks to freeing yourself up. If a story then gets off track, and becomes over-the-top as far as believability, we can always rein it back in during revision. 

Norm:

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor? 

Susan:

Now that’s tough! There are so many I truly love. But forced to pick, I’d say Norman Maclean. Nothing I have ever read (and I love so many books and authors) comes close to evoking what he did. In such a short piece, he captured the entire human condition. And in such magnificent prose, it takes my breath away still. I want to write something that beautiful before I die. It’s a lofty goal, and one I’ll most likely fall short of, but it’s to what I aspire. 

Norm:

Do you have any suggestions to help our readers become better writers? If so, what are they? 

Susan:

Read, read, read! Write, write, write. Read, read, read! In that order.

Norm:

Do you feel that writers, regardless of genre owe something to readers, if not, why not, if so, why and what would that be? 

Susan:

Oh, I absolutely do. We all owe to our readers the Truth. It’s the Truth as we see it, know it, feel it. We owe our readers our Truth. And that is the only thing.

Norm: 

Where can our readers find out more about you and your books?

Susan: My WEBSITE.  You can also find me on Amazon’s author page

I have a new novel out as well, I Just Came Here to Dance

And be my friend on Goodreads 

Norm:

What are you upcoming projects? 

Susan:

I’m working on a new novel, set in a Texas vineyard. The research is really tough, but as they say, somebody’s gotta do it 

Norm: 

As this interview draws to a close what one question would you have liked me to ask you? Please share your answer.

Susan:

I can’t think of one—you’ve asked great ones! 

Norm:

Thanks once again and good luck with all of your future endeavours

Susan:

Thank you, Norm! Back at ya!


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