Interview with Susan Hughes
Leading Book Editor
Susan Hughes is a freelance Editor, writer & melanoma survivor. She has worked with 4/5 star authors of adult fiction like Richard Stephenson (Collapse), DI Telbat (Dark Liaison), Jennifer Levine (Summer Secrets), Maureen K Howard (Deviled!), Lisa Proulx (Weed Monkey), writers of non-fiction like Fiza Pathan (Classics: How we can encourage children to read them), and Terry Isaacson (Teaching Kids Golf). She’s also worked with writers like Jill A Carpenter (Huffington Post) and Charles Garcia (Fox News Latino).
How do you draw the line between editing someone else’s work, and rewriting it so that it has an even stronger element of wonder about it?
Good question! There is no line that can be drawn that would apply to all the manuscripts I edit. It is very much dependent upon the writer’s skill level and the quality of the story. If the writer is a creative storyteller with a talent for weaving a tale filled with wonder, I can do a bit of writing and offer suggestions when necessary. I do this in the sidebar of my edits, in the hopes that I’ll inspire the writer to stretch their imagination a bit. Sometimes I get manuscripts that are dull, no wonder or imagination at all. Unless I’ve been asked to ghostwrite, I simply make the necessary copy edits and put aside the urge to “fix” it all by rewriting. It’s tough to do.
The Beauty Thief
The Twelve Realms exist in peace where for the beautiful and kind-hearted Princess Caityn life is perfect. Even her betrothal is to the man she loves, High Prince Theiandar. She is surrounded by loving family and is protected from all harm. That is, until a masterful thief invades Caityn’s unspoiled world and steals away her very essence.
Charles P. Garcia
Fox News Latino
In their personal and professional lives, great leaders demonstrate integrity at all times. When I was a college student at the U.S. Air Force Academy, we vowed to live by an honor code which states, “We will not lie, cheat, or steal nor tolerate among us anyone who does…” Fox News Latino (example article)
America is falling, ready to join the Roman Empire as a distant memory in the annals of history. The year is 2027. Tired and desperate, the American people are deep in the middle of The Second Great Depression. The Florida coastline is in ruins from the most powerful hurricane on record; a second just like it is bearing down on the state of Texas…
In the thrilling sequel to Chained Guilt, Detective David Porter returns and again comes face to face with the harsh reality that a loved one is missing. He is also chasing a twisted, sadistic killer known as the Widow Maker who is murdering some of Houston’s most powerful men in some of the most gruesome ways imaginable…
Who do you trust when your world unravels and everything you believed is a lie? For the past fifteen years, The Office of Civilian Safety and Defense has guarded the public against the rampant threat of terrorism. Teenagers Tommy and Careen have never known life without Civilian Restrictions…
Reho, a young, survival-hardened man, searches for redemption in the Blastlands of Usona. Haunted by his past, he must uncover the truth about his origins while thrown headfirst into a war that will not only alter his future, but the future of all humankind. “REHO is an Instant Post-Apocalyptic Classic.” (Nicholas Sansbury Smith, best-selling author of the ORBS Series).
You’re copy editor for Addison Magazine – the magazine of the North Dallas Corridor. Writing and place is always a big topic. But what about editing and place? Do you ever help authors accentuate their regional distinctiveness? For example you recently assisted Terry Keys with his book Maximum Guilt, set in Mississippi.
Absolutely! The more vividly and accurately place and setting are portrayed, the more likely the reader is to lose himself in the story. Such unique details give the story a depth that keeps readers turning the pages. Your 360° interactive illustrations would be a perfect way to emphasize place. If I was editing a story that I felt would lend itself to such illustrations, I would definitely pay more attention to the regional distinctiveness and think writers would as well.
You’ve worked with high calibre published writers of adult fiction like DL Denham (Red Denver, Reho). But you’ve also worked with Tracy Lawson (Counteract) and Rachael Ritchey ; both young adult authors – plus a host of others. So you must know what it is to write for different ages and interests more than many authors. What one piece of advice would you give to writers about tone for intended readers?
I would advise writers to do the research necessary to determine their target audience. While there are some details that make that easy for writers—certain topics, explicit sexual content, etc. —there is much being written today, especially sci-fi and fantasy, that is of interest to a wide group of readers. You have to know your audience if you want to reach readers and sell books.
We believe reading is always interactive, so eBooks should be too. As an established book editor, do you focus on the mind of the reader, the mind of the author, or both?
When I edit, I’m editing from the mind of the reader. That’s exactly who I am when I edit, especially the first time through a manuscript. If I’m confused, the reader won’t “get it” either. Or if I’m bored, feeling the urge to skim over sentences, or just lost… the reader will be too. I have the benefit of working with repeat clients, so I really get to know them and what they’re thinking as they write. It makes it easier for me to give feedback and redirect them when necessary.
“We need to find new ways to make reading more attractive. Can you imagine how awesome it would be to read Moby Dick with interactive illustrations? Wow! I think I’d be motivated to reread a few of them myself.”
How do you think the new generation who have grown up with so much tech could be encouraged to discover classics again? Are they actually reading less? Can 360° interactive illustrations help?
Your 360° interactive illustrations would be a perfect way to interest the younger generation in the classics and reading in general. You’re right— they are so immersed in technology that we need to find new ways to make reading more attractive. Can you imagine how awesome it would be to read Moby Dick with interactive illustrations? Wow! I think I’d be motivated to reread a few of them myself.
So many great authors you’ve worked with, so this is a tricky one. Pick one book you’ve edited that’s for an adult audience, and one for young adults, that you think would lend themselves particularly well to the new TurlBook® 360° interactive eBook format. What would you have illustrated in the interactive CGI, and why?
This is a tough one indeed. And while I feel your interactive format could be adapted to any type of book, I see it as especially powerful in sci-fi and fantasy books. For that reason, I’d choose D.L. Denham’s Reho as an adult book that would work well. It’s full of larger-than-life Transformer-like characters and unusual landscapes that would be incredible if brought to life with interactive CGI. There are battle scenes that would work great too.
Similarly, Rachel Ritchey’s The Beauty Thief, an intriguing YA read with a mix of history and magical realism, would be fodder for some terrific graphics. Her creepy little Beauty Thief character would be brought to life, as would her setting of the Twelve Realms. The book moves from walled castles to dark, ominous forests and back. Interactive CGI could really pull the reader into the story.