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Behind the Book is an exclusive feature at Muggle-Born that gives readers an inside look into the editorial process of some of our favorite books. Plot changes, lost characters, and many more interesting topics are tackled in an interview with the author.

The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy

Did You Know?

  • THE HERO’S GUIDE was written on and off for a year
  • The character Lila originally had the name Ramona
  • THE HERO’S GUIDE had a relatively lengthy list of alternate working titles that included: Prince Who?, Don’t Call Me Charming, and much more!
  • Read on to find out more Behind the Book info about THE HERO’S GUIDE TO SAVING YOUR KINGDOM!

The Hero's Guide to Saving Your KingdomHow many months did it take for you to write the original draft of THE HERO’S GUIDE TO SAVING YOUR KINGDOM?
Hard to say exactly. Approximately twelve months, I think. But it wasn’t a solid year of writing. I had to squeeze book time in between my regular freelance assignments. It was basically: Write a page of the book, write a video game review, write a page of the book, write a roundup of children’s apps, and so on. Even though I was devoting quite a bit of time to it, the book was still theoretical at that point. Once the manuscript sold, however, and I had an actual deadline to meet for the final draft, I had to kick into high gear. The revision process took far less calendar time, but was way more concentrated and probably took more actual hours of work.

How long did the overall production of your book take from the moment you got your agent to the final publication date?
It’s been an amazingly streamlined process. Agent accepted the manuscript in March of last year. Pub date is May 1st, so that’s only fourteen months. I could use a nap.

Throughout the editorial process were there any significant changes to your story in terms of plot?
Well, Zaubera’s evil plot was entirely different in the very first draft. She was kidnapping farmers and placing them in dozens of towers that she had constructed all over the map, and was planning on simultaneously blowing up all the towers at a designated time… for some reason. It was — how shall I put this? — incomprehensible. But I don’t think my agent even got to see that draft. Luckily, my wife is a brilliant editor, and she was able to very bluntly tell me, “Honey, this makes no sense.”

Did you lose any characters along the way or go through any name changes?
I didn’t lose any characters (though in earlier drafts, Rosilda Stiffenkrauss played a larger role than the one scene she ended up in). On the contrary, I gained a few — and they’re some of my favorites: Lila and Ruffian the Blue. Neither of them was in the first draft. And even when I originally added Lila, she was only in two scenes. And her name was Ramona. I decided that Ramona didn’t sound like the kind of name her parents would have given to their little princess. My daughter suggested the name Lila and it stuck.

The other name change that occurred was for Briar Rose. Historically speaking, there have always been two names used for the Sleeping Beauty character: Aurora and Briar Rose. I initially used Aurora (and nicknamed her Rory), which felt right at the time, because in my very first draft, Sleeping Beauty was a meek and mellow character. I soon found her boring to write, though —which meant she would be even more boring to read. So I gave her a personality adjustment, and along with it, switched her name to the more pointed Briar Rose.

What was the most challenging part of writing and the editorial process?
All the tough, grueling parts about writing and revising Hero’s Guide were self-inflicted wounds. It was my choice to write a book with a crazy number of characters and plot threads to keep in order. I could have written a lovely little story about one Prince Charming, maybe even two. But no, I had to go for four. And the four princesses to go with them. And then I had to push it farther and say, No, let’s make it five princesses. And add a bunch of villains. There are about fifty distinct characters — many of whom have their own plot lines. Writing this book felt a little like air traffic control at times.

On several occasions, I found I’d written myself into a corner, so I had to go back and change something that happened earlier — and whenever I did that, I realized that the change would create a butterfly effect and necessitate even more changes down the line. There were honestly some grueling moments. I learned from those long, head-banging evenings at the computer, though: I outlined Book II before I started writing. Of course, it has even more characters, though, so…

Did THE HERO’S GUIDE TO SAVING YOUR KINGDOM go through any title changes?
More than I can remember. I submitted the book to my agent as The Princes Charming. But we thought that might be too easily misread as “Princess Charming.” The title after that was The League of Princes. But during the editorial process, we decided we wanted the title to be more expansive, to incorporate not just the four princes, but all the other characters who are looking for their inner hero over the course of the series. That’s how we ended up with The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom. But there was also a ridiculously long list of alternate working titles that popped up along the way. Some lasted for a few days, others no more than a moment before being deservedly tossed out.

A few highlights (for better or worse):
The Aspiring Kingdom-Savers Handbook
Don’t Call Me Charming
Prince Who?
I Saved the Kingdom and All I Got Was This Lousy Nickname
The Princes Formerly Known as Charming

Is there anything else that you could tell us about THE HERO’S GUIDE TO SAVING YOUR KINGDOM that we wouldn’t know unless we were part of the editorial team at Walden Pond Press?
I assume you’re referring to the office pool in which the staff is placing bets on which prince I kill off first. Sorry, I have been legally advised not to comment on such matters.



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Permalink Permalink Category Behind the Book - , | Words 1189 words



Behind the Book is an exclusive feature at Muggle-Born that gives readers an inside look into the editorial process of some of our favorite books. Plot changes, lost characters, and many more interesting topics are tackled in an interview with the author.

The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind by Meg Medina

Did You Know?

  • The original title of the book had been called, Jaibera, which is slang for crab worker.
  • Meg Medina worked with the same editor who edited her first picture book
  • Medina started working on the novel all the way back in 2006
  • Read on to find out more Behind the Book info about THE GIRL WHO COULD SILENCE THE WIND!

How many months did it take for you to write the original draft of THE GIRL WHO COULD SILENCE THE WIND?
There were actually many distinct drafts of this novel, and it went through very extensive changes. I started working on it early in 2006.

How long did the overall production of your book take from the moment you sent the book to your editor to the final publication date?

Four years – but mostly because the manuscript saw a huge overhaul. In March 2008, Kate Fletcher, my fantastic editor at Candlewick Press started to work with me on strengthening the manuscript from my original concept. This was an amazingly generous act on her part. We had worked together on my first picture book, and I shared with her the difficulties I was having with the manuscript for my second novel. She made suggestions and I worked on revisions. She acquired it in Dec 2008.

Throughout the editorial process were there any significant changes to your story in terms of plot?

This novel saw a complete revision – and I do mean re-vision. Originally, the novel was about young women who come north to work as crab workers. At its core was a look at the plight of people who travel north to find work and opportunity, but I was also leaning for a love story as well. When Kate read it, she fell in love with Sonia in her home country and all the characters that inhabited that place. Today, The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind is still a love story and a look at the sacrifices people make to find their future, but my characters inhabit a more magical world that is both foreign and familiar to all readers, especially those with Latin American roots. One of the loveliest surprises about making that change was that I was able to explore the truths about young love, poverty, power, and migration as I saw them. It was much easier to achieve that from the fictional town of Tres Montes and, later, the capital.

Did you lose any characters along the way or go through any name changes?

I lost characters and gained characters as I sharpened the story. When the story changed to a setting in Tres Montes and La Capital, I lost all the American characters, of course. I vaguely remember someone named Hector in one of the stories…and Señora Mason was originally Katherine Mason, a tough lady who ran a crab plant with an iron fist. But look at all I gained! Oscar, the evil Conchita Fo, Teresa, just to name a few. And best of all, Pancho. He started out as one line in my original draft…just a background taxiboy. Obviously, he emerged as my hero. I’ve never been able to resist the shy and chivalrous at heart.

What was the most challenging part of writing and the editorial process?

Having the courage to stick with a piece of writing and reinvent it. There were many, many times I wanted to give up on this story. It made me question whether I was a good writer at all. I was very lucky that Kate had faith in my willingness to rewrite and rewrite and rewrite.

Did THE GIRL WHO COULD SILENCE THE WIND go through any title changes?

The original title was Jaibera, which is slang for crab worker.

Is there anything else that you could tell us about THE GIRL WHO COULD SILENCE THE WIND that we wouldn’t know unless we were part of the editorial team at Candlewick Press?

Well, I’ve never adored the title, although I’m the one who came up with it. That’s the one skill I wish I had: Titles.

For more about THE GIRL WHO COULD SILENCE THE WIND, make sure to read my review.

Book Trailer

Make sure to check out the other stops of THE GIRL WHO COULD SILENCE THE WIND Blog Tour!

Wednesday, March 7: http://www.wastepaperprose.com/
Thursday, March 8: http://bookbriefs.blogspot.com/
Friday, March 9: http://muggle-born.net/
Monday, March 12: www.thebookcellarx.com
Tuesday, March 13: http://www.teenreads.com/
Wednesday, March 14: http://www.mochalattereads.blogspot.com/
Thursday, March 15: http://joyousreads.blogspot.com/
Friday, March 16:   http://hispanicreader.com/



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You are here: Home » Behind the Book

Behind the Book is an exclusive feature at Muggle-Born that gives readers an inside look into the editorial process of some of our favorite books. Plot changes, lost characters, and many more interesting topics are tackled in an interview with the author.

The Traitor in the Tunnel (The Agency, #3) by YS Lee

Did You Know?

  • The Traitor in the Tunnel was written quicker than the two previous novels
  • Mary’s name was originally Mary Lockett
  • Read on to find out more Behind the Book info about The Traitor in the Tunnel and the rest of the Agency series!

How many months did it take for you to write the original draft of THE TRAITOR IN THE TUNNEL? How does this compare to the other Agency books?
I can’t tell you how long it takes to write a true rough draft because I tend to write simultaneous drafts – that is, I keep reworking earlier bits even as I write new sections. By the time I type “The End”, the first half of the book is semi-polished. But it took about 13 months from starting my research to submitting the ms to my editor. That was quicker than either of the first two Agency novels.

THE TRAITOR IN THE TUNNEL released in the UK in August 2011. Can you explain to us the reasons why there is a difference in release dates?
Each title comes out first in the UK because we (my agent and I) sold World English rights to Walker Books UK, and Walker arranged for their sister company, Candlewick Press, to publish in the US & Canada. But specific release dates are set in-house. While I don’t know the specific reasons for the gap, I’m sure they’re complex.

Did any of the characters in the Agency series ever go through name changes when you first started writing?
Yes! Mary Quinn’s name was Mary Lockett, until a friend pointed out that it sounded like a homage to Sally Lockhart, Philip Pullman’s Victorian heroine. I hadn’t read the Sally Lockhart quartet at that point, but I quickly did! As great as I think they are, I needed to rename my Mary after that. And in the very first draft, James’s name was Frederick. Really.

What was the most challenging part of writing and the editorial process?
The editorial process is so straightforward, from my end. I’m lucky to be edited and proofread by extremely smart, insightful, passionate people and I love that their involvement makes the books stronger. The most challenging part of writing, for me, is when the first draft is halfway done. All the best ideas are worked out, the first flush of excitement is gone, and lots of hard work remains. Writing the second half of a book is pure discipline – until you get to the very end, of course!

Is there anything else that you could tell us about THE TRAITOR IN THE TUNNEL that we wouldn’t know unless we were part of the editorial team at Candlewick?
The number one question I get from readers is some variation on, Will James Easton be in Traitor? Will he change his mind? Will he and Mary EVER get together? I’d hate to give away too much, but James is definitely back. Also, I’m really looking forward to showing you some behind-the-scenes snapshots from the cover photo shoot! They’ll be up at my website in the next few weeks.

For more behind the book information, check out this post at Ying’s blog to read about the cover’s photo shoot!

About the Author

Y. S. Lee was born in Singapore but brought up in Canada. She also lived briefly in the United Kingdom. An academic with a PhD in Victorian literature and culture, she wrote MASCULINITY AND THE ENGLISH WORKING CLASS IN VICTORIAN AUTOBIOGRAPHY AND FICTION. She lives in Ontario, Canada.

Find the Author

Website | Twitter | GoodReads



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