Monday, November 10, 2008

Meet the Editor: Pamela

Pamela Campbell

What is your background and experience in editing?
I have worked at Ellora’s Cave for almost six years. March 2009 will make it six years. Wow, doesn’t seem as if it has been that long. Before that, I did edits and layouts for a sports paper. Oh…and LOTS of academic editing while I was still in school. I continued editing college papers until EC gobbled up my time. My degree is in another field, but the rules for writing and speaking were always easy for me. Probably because I have been a voracious reader since I could hold a book.

How would you describe your editing style?
Well, one of my authors told me that I am very tough, and I know that I have caused a couple of my authors to hyperventilate and almost pass out after opening an edit. I am tough, but not inflexible. I am always open to discussion, if it is a valid point. But something that is absolutely wrong is not going through. Ever.

I am very blunt. I don’t have an ounce of diplomacy. I just can’t remember to work those little smiley faces into my comments and emails. I get so involved when I’m working, totally concentrating on all aspects of the book, that I forget to do the chatty thing. Sorry, guys.

I guess I’m pretty tough about all rules of grammar, except in dialogue. I do keep in mind that this is informal fiction. Even grammar rules have to fit the character and story. Sometimes, “less than perfect” works better—a few more “likes” and a few less “whoms”.

The plot must be workable and sensible, believable. Every tiny thing has to work.

My goal is to make the book as correct as possible while making the characters come to life in the readers’ minds (I’m always asking my authors to add lots of graphic visual detail), to make the story flow smoothly, and to never, ever cause the reader to stumble.

What is your favorite thing about editing?
Reading something in a new submission—a passage or scene—and being so amazed by the sheer creative talent that I have to read it again, sometimes several times. And, my job is reading. How perfect is that?

I like being able to help an author make a book better—find and correct the flaws, strengthen or perfect the plot, and polish the story to perfection. I have gone back a few times, looked at a first edit, and compared it to a finished book. It can be very satisfying to realize how much improvement evolved over the course of the edits. It is something that I am very proud of, and don’t think I’ll ever tire of. I really, really enjoy my job and the people I work with. I always give every book my best effort because I love every step of the process.

What are your pet peeves in books or submissions?
Poorly proofed submissions are the worst. Umm…I’m not a proofreader. If an author does not feel a book is worth the effort, why should I? Almost as bad—making the same mistakes over and over. Not checking the EC Style Guide. I really dislike mixed verb tenses within sentences and paragraphs. Misused words make me crazy. I strongly dislike cardboard characters, talking heads. Graphic visual detail is a must for our books. In any book, really. I want to see the action and feel the love story.

For personal reading, what are your favorite genres and all-time favorite books?
I’m not limited by genre. Fiction, biography, political satire—as long as something catches my interest, I’ll give it a try.

When I was very young, I loved David Copperfield, Oliver Twist, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Adventures of Huckleberry Fin, The Prince and the Pauper. I even liked The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. Most of Walter Farley’s “Black Stallion” books. Later, I fell in love with The Count of Monte Cristo, The Man in the Iron Mask, Pride and Prejudice and Edgar Allen Poe’s poems—especially Annabelle Lee and The Raven. I read all of Ian Fleming’s Bond books, and loved James Patterson’s Alex Cross series and Jeffery Deaver's Lincoln Rhyme series. I’ve read some Steven King and a lot of Dean Koontz. On my nightstand: Edgar Cayce’s Egypt, The Nag Hammadi Library, Through the Veil, Holy Blood, Holy Grail and Funny Cide. I don’t have time to finish any of them.

Waaay back, when I read my first romance novel, Sweet Savage Love, I was hooked. I fell in love with the genre. My favorite romance authors are LaVyrle Spencer, Johanna Lindsey, Jude Deveraux, Lisa Gregory, Judith McNaught, and Susan Johnson, to name a few. Too many to list them all here. The only flaw in this new genre was that the sex just never went far enough. Until I found Ellora’s Cave. EC brought my love of romance novels full circle. I finally got the sex scenes as well as the love story. And I’ve been here ever since.

I love many of our EC authors’ books. Another long list that would take too much room. And it really wouldn’t be fair to list them here. I will say that some of my authors are on my all-time-favorite-books list.


Ruth D. Kerce said...

I absolutely loved those "Black Stallion" books. I still have them in hardback. I remember curling up on my bed in the evenings and eagerly reading each one.

As far as romance is concerned, you mentioned Johanna Lindsey. I think I read every book she wrote in the 80's. I absolutely inhaled her stories. Her style is so easy and entertaining to read.

I had to chuckle a little over your "blunt" comment. Because when I used to lead a critique book (way back in the olden days), I was the same. I'd get so involved in what I was doing that I would forget about pointing out the stuff that I really liked and just concentrated on the things that needed fixing or could be improved. I never did change, but learned to "warn" newbies about my style. LOL

I've really been enjoying these profiles. Getting to know the editors--what they like/dislike, their reading tastes, etc--has been great.

Amy Ruttan said...

Although Pamela isn't my editor (her daughter Shannon is), I love being part of the Bug Chat group.

Both Pamela and Shannon are there to answer any question. They keep us up to date on all the happenings, slap our fingers when do something wrong but we still love them.

I don't think you and Shannon hear it enough, but thank you!