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dhaupt
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Re: Questions for the Editor

Hello Ms. Baron,
Let me first say it's a privilege to be a part of this unique process of reviewing and talking about a debut novel.
I am enjoying the book although I would have to say it won't be one of my favorites.
I do like how the author melds the chapters between the past and the present where the reader isn't scratching his or her head and wondering, where did that come from.
I know that you have thousands of hopeful authors that pass over your desk and I would like to know this - when you first read a manuscript does it have to grab you all at once to choose it or do you wait until the very last page to make your decision, and is it the writing or the story that pulls you?

Thank you for your time
Debbie Haupt
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carriele
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Re: Questions for the Editor

Carole,
 
First off, thanks so much for taking the time to give us all a little input from where you come in in this process.  My questions are  very general.  First, as an editor, do you alone decide which books are worthy of publication?
My second question deals with the screening process. Many people have stated in this book, that after the first 8 or so chapters they would have simply put the book down or returned it to the library.  Generally, I try to finish the books I start unless they are really bad.  Do you have a specific cut off point or do you generally read until the end?  I would think having a cut off point would be difficult because some really good books start off real slow.  Thanks for your input.
 
Carrie E. 
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Carole_Baron
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Re: Questions for the Editor



Everyman wrote:
There has been some discussion here of the cover on the ARC, most of it unenthusiastic.

What was the intention of the cover? What is it trying to say about the book?

Is this the final cover design, or are you considering other cover art?

And is it true, as some here think, that those are actually butterflies and not moths on the cover?

Hi Everyman:  As far as I know those are moths on the cover.  Isn't it interesting that what we think of as a moth is really so close to the gorgeousness of the butterfly?  that is one of the reasons I liked this book; I knew nothing about moths and most science for that matter but it fascinated me as much as the story.
 
As far as the story is concerned, what did you think of Ginny's perception of things?  Why did Vivi come home? How did their mother die?  These are so many questions that I think make the book exceptional.  What did you think?


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Carole_Baron
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Re: Questions for the Editor



vivico1 wrote:
I liked the cover, even when I only saw it online, before I got it. Now that I have been reading, it reminds me of something old, emotionless, or stopped in time, like the stone version of a person is in a bust, so it works for me. Except for the moths/butterflies. They look pasted on the cover like bad clipart. It would be cool to see something more 3D, like the bust is, maybe even lighting on the bust. There is an eeriness about it otherwise that really suits the story to me. Is there a chance these butterflies/moths (we seem to agree we aren't sure they are moths) will be changed?

Also, THANK YOU for chapter numbers AND TITLES! It is so much easier to go back and look for something in a book, when you have titles to remind you about where it is, especially when discussing a book. I noticed there are no page numbers for the chapters, is that just because the final cut for the book isnt done yet?

Hi.  I think the cover is unusual but no one agrees on art and covers.  The statue in the cemetary is key in the story but read on...if you haven't.  They are indeed Moths on the cover.  As far as the chapters are concerned, the page numbers will be put in the final edition.  Thank you for reading.  my question to you:  what did you think of Ginny?  Did you think she was a world expert in moths? Do you think she pushed her sister fromthe Bell Tower when they were young?  I would love to hear from you about the story.


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Carole_Baron
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Re: Questions for the Editor



vivico1 wrote:
*** possible spoiler***
One thing that had many of us starting to skim the book instead of reading it all,(some I know stopped reading altogether because of it) is the technical stuff about the moths. Thats a pretty specialized field and not the most popular parts to read. Its kind of like listening to a scientist describe and atom in scientific terms and your interest tends to drift until it interferes with your convo and you just wait for them to come back to something you know. I think the idea of using the moths, and the way they are studied and killed and kept,all very aloof and quite emotionless, works for the story in building character ideas. (I am trying to to give too much away for those still reading here) But I found that by skimming it, getting away from the length of the technical stuff, I didn't miss any of what the comparisons were but was more able to continue to read the book, when as I said some others have given up, and then I found this to be a wonderfully eerie thriller without all that. Have you had any remarks before or in the British version about people drifting from too much of the technical stuff? I don't mean stuff like Chapter 5, the Monster, the Thief and Pupal Soup, that worked so well for what it is intended and was very readable and pretty creepy (which is good lol). I am speaking to just those times when you may have paragraphs to pages of scientific jargon about moths. Any chance some of this might be cut back some? Because I have told several people, hang in there, get past those parts and you are in for one heck of a book!

since you mentioned the British edition, I think I should mention that it has not yet been publisher there.  In May.  Knopf will publish in June.  But the British edition will be titled:  THe Behaviour of Moths.   They clearly feel that is the strength of the book.  
 
I am glad you liked the story.  My question to you is:  did you think that Maude, their mother, fell or was pushed down the stairs?
 
 
Thank you taking the time to read the book and to post such an interesting comment.


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Carole_Baron
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Re: Questions for the Editor



dumlao_n wrote:
I like seeing a Table of Contents, but I wish the page numbers would be listed as well. I don't like seeing just 0's.

Thank you.


Since this is an early look and a proof, the page numbers were not put in.  They will be in the final edition.


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Carole_Baron
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Re: Questions for the Editor



lodigates wrote:
Thank you for speaking these thoughts and questions to the author.  Too much technical nearly made me put the book down, better yet, send it to the used book store.  The only reasons I kept reading was the book was given, the author is new, and just plain curiousity.  Where was this story going?
 
This is my first "First Look", and I was distrurbed by the type-o's, and misspelled words.  Having been a Secretary all my life, I tend to watch that and punctuation.  Will this book go back for corrections, i.e. Maud/Maude.
 
Lodigates


Since this was an early proof, it has not gone through the proofreading process.  It will be done carefully for the final edition of the book.  Did you finish the book?


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Carole_Baron
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Re: Questions for the Editor



bookhunter wrote:
Ms. Baron,
 
Thanks for the opportunity to read this book.  I very much enjoyed it--especially the unique voice of Ginny as narrator.
 
I am another one of the readers who really likes the chapters with titles and a table of contents.  Not only does it aid when  having a discussion, but the chapter titles really add to the story.
 
My question:  Why did you change the title for publication in the US? 
 
The chapter titles are so quirky and revealing.   The Sister is so nondescript, as well as confusing since Danielle Steele has a novel called Sisters published recently.  I have seen the book refered to online as The Behaviour of Moths and as The Time of Emergence.  Both of those are more intriguing titles to me!
 
Thanks again for the opportunity,
Ann, bookhunter


Hello Ann. :Thank you for reading the book. It is a good question about the title.  That and the cover is always a matter of considerable discussion.  If you look at some of the responses of others in this discussion you can see that there seems to be a negative reaction to all things moths and the Brits decided to use this title.  I think that from the reaction on line here that would have been a turn off.  I like THE SISTER because it can refer to either sister; and ultimately to Ginny the unreliable narrator.  I,too, was taken with the unique voice of GInny.  What did you think of her in the beginning?  She was certainly disturbed by her sister changing the natural order of things.  How do you think their mother died?  I would love to hear from you on that. 


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Carole_Baron
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Re: Questions for the Editor



DSaff wrote:
Thank you so much for joining us, Carol. With so many writers out there, how do you determine what works deserve more of your time? What criteria do you use? Also, what do you like most about your job?

DSTAFF.  THank you for your thoughtful questions.  Everyday as an editor we read the hopeful manuscripts of many writers.  Some are good, some are not.  And sometimes, those times are special, I begin to read and book and I just know in my gut that I am in the hands of a writer who has a story to tell.  It is really that: a gut experience that drives my decision.  And when I read the opening para of Poppy Adams book I knew that I wanted to read more and as I read more I knew that I wanted to finish the book.  FOr me, that is the criteria for wanting to publish a book.  I am also interested in publishing writers who I feel will go on to write more books and get better and better.  Everyone has to start somewhere.  And I love going along for the ride, helping the writer and then trying to bring the writer to other readers.    What do I like most about my job?  I get to read, read read.  I would be doing that if I weren't an editor........cb


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Re: Questions for the Editor



nmccarthy wrote:
I remember opening my front door one evening to change out the dead light bulb. As I climbed the ladder, I had an odd feeling; something was different, though everything looked normal. After screwing in the light bulb and closely looking around, I finally saw it. They were subtle, very subtle. Moths were almost perfectly blended into the color and texture of the siding and brick on the front porch.
 
That's how I've felt since page one of this book though fortunately the mystery and answers to my questions are still unfolding as of Chapter 17. I have been racking my brain, using every bit of moth science, philosophy tidbits and personality and relationship analysis to discover the subtle meanings behind Ginny's narrative and character. If I had not been part of this reading group, I would have probably finished the book in one very full day, stopping here and there to evaluate the meaning behind a passage. 
 
This book is smart, it makes me pause and think, it draws me in, it intertwines the science of moths with the familial relationships. I rarely read the bestsellers, the authors that publish a book a minute, the books I forget about the next day.
 
So here's my question. What are you charged with looking for when you read a manuscript? Are you looking for the next bestseller or a book that's a possible prize contender? And finally, how does your publishing company intend to market Poppy Adam's first novel?
 
I greatly appreciate the opportunity to be part of the unfolding of this new author and book release.
Nancy


Hi.  It's funny . Everytime my husband and I see a moth, we think of Poppy Adams. I can never look at these creatures again without bringing some knowledge to what I am seeing.  That is one of the reasons I liked THE SISTER.  It brought me into a whole new world of science that I might not ever have known. Tie that into an  eerie story with an unrealiable narrator and  I really couldn't put the book down when I got the manuscript.  And if I couldn't put it down, I have to believe that others will feel the same way.  It is as simple as that.  I hope that people will read THE SISTER and I am proud to be part of Poppy Adams career. I feel she is a writer with a future and this is only the beginning for her.  So the critieria:  is it a good story? is there something unique about the book? is the writing extraordinary? does the story hold my interest? will I look at something differently when I finish the book.  And dod I personally know people who I want to share this book with.  These are all questions to ask myself when I am evaluating a book.  The rest will follow. thanks for asking.  I can get carried away.....


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BookSavage
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Re: Questions for the Editor

Carole,
One of the problems that I had with this novel, was the confusing nature of the characters.  I have now read through chapter fourteen.  Up to chapter nine I felt like I had a hold on Ginny.  I really believe that she has Asperger's Syndrom and I felt like Adams was doing a good job of creating this character.  Then I come to chapters ten, eleven, twelve, and thirteen and I felt like Adams completely lost her focus.  Ginny's ability to relate to people and handle uncomfortable social situations was greatly increased and to me felt like a real disconnect between her in these chapters and Ginny in the early chapters.  Did this present a problem for you?  Have you conisdered including a note in the back about autism and where parents of autistic children can look for support?
Thanks again for this first look opportunity.
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Re: Questions for the Editor


Carole_Baron wrote:


vivico1 wrote:
*** possible spoiler***
One thing that had many of us starting to skim the book instead of reading it all,(some I know stopped reading altogether because of it) is the technical stuff about the moths. Thats a pretty specialized field and not the most popular parts to read. Its kind of like listening to a scientist describe and atom in scientific terms and your interest tends to drift until it interferes with your convo and you just wait for them to come back to something you know. I think the idea of using the moths, and the way they are studied and killed and kept,all very aloof and quite emotionless, works for the story in building character ideas. (I am trying to to give too much away for those still reading here) But I found that by skimming it, getting away from the length of the technical stuff, I didn't miss any of what the comparisons were but was more able to continue to read the book, when as I said some others have given up, and then I found this to be a wonderfully eerie thriller without all that. Have you had any remarks before or in the British version about people drifting from too much of the technical stuff? I don't mean stuff like Chapter 5, the Monster, the Thief and Pupal Soup, that worked so well for what it is intended and was very readable and pretty creepy (which is good lol). I am speaking to just those times when you may have paragraphs to pages of scientific jargon about moths. Any chance some of this might be cut back some? Because I have told several people, hang in there, get past those parts and you are in for one heck of a book!

since you mentioned the British edition, I think I should mention that it has not yet been publisher there. In May. Knopf will publish in June. But the British edition will be titled: THe Behaviour of Moths. They clearly feel that is the strength of the book.
I am glad you liked the story. My question to you is: did you think that Maude, their mother, fell or was pushed down the stairs?
Thank you taking the time to read the book and to post such an interesting comment.



I think it is quite possible that Maud was pushed,and in this case, it could actually have been Ginny OR her father. I like that it is left to wonder about, usually I want those things answered in the end.
See, here's the thing, I really like the way this author builds the story, the "something is not quite right here" thing and keeping something foreboding from the very first because I have to tell you, after about the second lengthy meandering through the technical side of the story of the moths, I would have been like so many and just given up on the book and walked away. Its good that she kept me with that feeling of, something is building here. But at the same time, as I mentioned, skimming some of the parts that are nothing but a study in the study of..., its a shame that any reader should feel that the only way to get through all of what is basically a wonderful story, is to skim parts! That to me is sad, that those of us who really liked the story are having to tell our friends, dont give up, just skim that part, its good really!

I really sincerely think that just cutting a few lines here or there,those that make people in this group drift or stop, would really help the sales and the buzz about it and still get across how the "behavior of moths" relate to the behavior of these sisters. You can talk about moths and working with them, as I said chapter 5 is great about that and adding to the eeriness, without going off on a scientific lecture of them. I realize that part of Ginny's character is to drift off onto these thoughts and we are taken with her but there is only so much a reader will go with and not walk away, as you are hearing. This to me is the best ARC book we have read so far, it really is, but its a shame some are dropping out because of that, or that I had to skim "the written word", nearly sacrilege to me, to get to the end and be able to look back and tell other, just skip that then if you have to, the rest of the story is really really worth it. Ok, last I will say about that, I know it doesnt matter and you probably are tired of hearing it, but I feel like, if I am here and being an honest reader about a new book, I should tell you what I liked and what really didnt work for me. I really am looking forward to more works by this author, but on this one book, if nothing is going to change, if its all set in stone, I hate that I have to tell friends, theres this really good book out there, great new author but you are really going to have to stick with it or skip a lot to see what I mean but I promise if you do, you will like it in the end. Thats not going to get too many of the people I know reading it.
Vivian
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Re: Questions for the Editor


BookSavage wrote:
Carole,
One of the problems that I had with this novel, was the confusing nature of the characters. I have now read through chapter fourteen. Up to chapter nine I felt like I had a hold on Ginny. I really believe that she has Asperger's Syndrom and I felt like Adams was doing a good job of creating this character. Then I come to chapters ten, eleven, twelve, and thirteen and I felt like Adams completely lost her focus. Ginny's ability to relate to people and handle uncomfortable social situations was greatly increased and to me felt like a real disconnect between her in these chapters and Ginny in the early chapters. Did this present a problem for you? Have you conisdered including a note in the back about autism and where parents of autistic children can look for support?
Thanks again for this first look opportunity.



Ok, now I have a question about this question lol. Bear with me cause I never made it through all the posts on the other threads, but did someone actually say Ginny had any form of autism at all beyond conjecture? Is this really the case? If not, I sure wouldn't put something in the book as a footnote about it and make it appear that its proposing thats her trouble and heres resources for those who want to know more about autism, on such an eerie book. I definately think she was obsessive compulsive and had something wrong but didnt want to label it. Its a spookier book to me to just watch Ginnie and wonder what I percieve is the real question, thus the moth aspect of the book, albeit too much, and that is, is ginny just wired to act a certain way, emotionless, without choice, as she and her father are proposing the moths do? Or is she really sick? Maybe just amoral?
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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bookhunter
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Re: Questions for the Editor

Ms. Baron,
 
I would like to know more about the documentaries Ms. Adams has produced.  I have tried to "google" some additional information on her, but found nothing.  I know she has produced documentaries for BBC and the Discovery Channel.  Has her subject matter been related to natural science (like moths!) or to human psychology and disorders like Asperger's Syndrome?
 
Thank you,
Ann, bookhunter
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Everyman
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Re: Questions for the Editor

Carole_Baron wrote:As far as the story is concerned, what did you think of Ginny's perception of things? Why did Vivi come home? How did their mother die? These are so many questions that I think make the book exceptional. What did you think?

I haven't finished the book, so maybe these questions will be answered in later chapters, but so far: I think it's clear that Ginny has a mental problem, but I'm not sure yet what it is. We've speculated on several things here, but as one poster noted in another thread for much of the book she has seemed to be totally insensitive to human interactions, but then suddenly with her mother and in other aspects of later chapters she seems acutely aware of them. She seems at time quite perceptive and at other times totally clueless. Her response to Bernard's possible fondling seemed more bizarre than any other behavior she's exhibited. So I'm not sure now how to take her. (And I have no idea yet whether Vivi fell or was pushed.)

As to why Vivi came home, I have no clue yet. Maybe I'll find out in future chapters -- I hope so, because I would feel not really cheated but not treated fairly by the author if we never found out.

I'm persuaded that Clive pushed Maud down the cellar stairs with the intent of killing her after taking her out for a final picnic to round off their relationship (I recall the photo of the picnic when they were, I think, first courting. Picnic at start, picnic at end.) But I am concerned a bit because pushing somebody down cellar stairs is not a reliable way of killing them. Lots of people, particularly if their bodies are loose from drunkenness, survive falls down the stairs. And if it hadn't killed her but has made her crippled, maybe needing to spend the rest of her life in a wheelchair being cared for constantly, his life would have been worse, not better. It seems a clumsy way for somebody as comfortable with killing as he is to kill off his wife. But it does provide a book-end with Vivi's fall, and makes us wonder whether he knew that that was intentional and is using the fall down the cellar stairs to tell Ginnny that he knows she pushed Vivi? That's wild speculation, but fun!
_______________
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Re: Questions for the Editor

[ Edited ]
Carol_Baron writes:
"I,too, was taken with the unique voice of GInny.  What did you think of her in the beginning?  She was certainly disturbed by her sister changing the natural order of things.  How do you think their mother died?  I would love to hear from you on that." 
 
Ms. Baron,
I was very sympathetic towards Ginny from the beginning.  I have a bit of personal experience (but not professional) with autism and Asperger's Syndrome, as well as working with people who have learning differences, so I enjoyed her voice and unique perspective on the world throughout the book.   I don't know if Ms. Adams intended Ginny to be labeled with a particular disorder.  But I imagine part of the story is the connection between biology and response to one's environment.  We can tell from Ginny's narration that she perceives and reacts differently from "the norm."  (Ordinarily that is not a bad thing--those are the people who make great advances in science, art, etc.)
 
Even though Ginny has what we would call a limited and rigid view of her world, it gives us insight into our own thinking:  How does our own "chemical makeup" influence the way *I* and *you* see the world?
 
I am not sure I understand your question about their mother's death.  Maud died because she was drunk and mistook the cellar door for the kitchen door.  Why in the world would you think otherwise, Ms. Baron?
 
Ann, bookhunter


Message Edited by bookhunter on 03-11-2008 12:47 PM
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DSaff
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Re: Questions for the Editor



Carole_Baron wrote:


DSaff wrote:
Thank you so much for joining us, Carol. With so many writers out there, how do you determine what works deserve more of your time? What criteria do you use? Also, what do you like most about your job?

DSTAFF. THank you for your thoughtful questions. Everyday as an editor we read the hopeful manuscripts of many writers. Some are good, some are not. And sometimes, those times are special, I begin to read and book and I just know in my gut that I am in the hands of a writer who has a story to tell. It is really that: a gut experience that drives my decision. And when I read the opening para of Poppy Adams book I knew that I wanted to read more and as I read more I knew that I wanted to finish the book. FOr me, that is the criteria for wanting to publish a book. I am also interested in publishing writers who I feel will go on to write more books and get better and better. Everyone has to start somewhere. And I love going along for the ride, helping the writer and then trying to bring the writer to other readers. What do I like most about my job? I get to read, read read. I would be doing that if I weren't an editor........cb





Thank you for your reply. It is nice to meet people who enjoy reading and have been able to make a career of it! I have enjoyed the book and look forward to reading more from Ms. Adams.
DonnaS =) " Reading is a means of thinking with another person's mind; it forces you to stretch your own." Charles Scribner
"A book is like a garden carried in the pocket." Chinese Proverb
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Re: Questions for the Editor

Hi, Carole.  Thank you for the opportunity to read The Sister.
 
I have to admit I was hooked from the beginning of the story.  Ginny's narrative while waiting for Vivi to arrive was unique and almost spellbinding.  It was as if Poppy Adams puts you inside Ginny's head as an observer.  The longer you stay in Ginny's "presence",  the more you realize she is not a trustworthy observer.  I was surprised at how quickly I decided there were observations from Ginny that just didn't "ring true" (and that included her description of herself as a great scientist.) 
 
As Ginny narrates the circumstances of Vivi and the bell tower, I could not read fast enough to see if I thought she really pushed Vivi.  No matter what Ginny's words were I had to see if Maud held to her fear/ "conviction"  that Ginny had pushed her sister.   Maud's comments about "wanting to be a normal family"  were really thought provoking...her family had always been fanatical on the subject of moths, devoted their lives to the pursuit...Maybe Clive had been Maud's hope of change and the result was Ginny (supported by Dr. Moyse's presence).
 
As the story progresses, I really wanted to push Ginny...to communicate, to stand up for herself, to express her feelings (or lack of) and to join the life around her.  I did have a problem with reading about the moths until I realized the inclusion of much of the moth detail let Ginny as the narrator hide.  As the observer (reader) of Ginny's thoughts, the details of the moths will keep you at arms length.  Ginny loaded us with scientific detail to keep the emotions at bay, to avoid dealing with any feelings,to protect herself and to assure all of us that she was a great scientist.
 
I guess my big problem is...try as I might I really don't have a good diagnosis for Ginny's problem.  After finishing the book, I thought in  "The Apprentice" chapter Clive's discussion of insight, instinct and self-awareness seemed to apply to his daughter.
 
Oh, I do think Clive killed Maud.  He gave her a day...a ride in the country and a picnic (a very normal day for a husband and wife), he made certain she had a few drinks, helped her choose the wrong door and he killed her.  (The net result...I think he lost his own initiative and desire for existing.   And Ginny was left in her own confusing "pupal soup".)
 
 
 
Nancy  
 
 
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detailmuse
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Re: Questions for the Editor

[ Edited ]
Hi Carole. Thank you for participating here, and thanks to Knopf and B&N for the early-reading opportunity!
 
1) Can you summarize the discussions/process of how "The Sister" was selected when it was decided that the title would be changed from the UK edition?
 
It seems that "The Behavior of Moths" does fit better, even for a US audience. It's metaphoric and it clues the reader to expect some science (and be more tolerant of the amount of it). [I'm thinking of how the science of light/radiation was woven into Marianne Wiggins' excellent "Evidence of Things Unseen."] Whereas "The Sister" and its back-cover blurb clued me to expect a novel about reunited sisters ... and frustrated me with so few pages about the sisters and so many pages about family backstory and moths.
 
Would "The Behavior of Moths" turn away readers? Possibly, but that could be overcome with a good dust-jacket description. Is it better to turn away a prospective reader or try to lure back a misfit/disappointed reader?
 
2) What other types of revisions were made to bring a UK edition to the US market? (e.g. I noticed some language (cardy comes to mind) was not revised.)
 
Thanks again.
 
 
(Eeek! Edited to remove a weird smiley that popped in uninvited.)


Message Edited by detailmuse on 03-11-2008 02:12 PM
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fordmg
Posts: 546
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Questions for the Editor



Everyman wrote:
Tasses wrote: Given the possibility that any exposure is better than no exposure, would publishers rather recieve honest reviews or have us just skip reviewing titles we find faulty? I've wrestled with this quite a bit (good ole guilt there)

Excellent question. I've wrestled with it myself. With a book I've bought and paid for, I have no problem giving it a negative review if that's how I feel about it. But the ARCs feel a bit different; they are gifts, and you know what they say about gift horses! Since I can't give this book a glowing review, at least as far as I've read so far, I'm wondering whether I should just not review it at the end. But then, is that fair to other readers who might get to save their tie and money if they had a better picture what the book is about?

I think it is important to give an honest review.  One of the reasons for previewing a book is to find out what actual reaction will be.  If say 90 % of readers have the same reaction, that says alot.  Changes could be made, or if positive, that issue could be promoted more. 
MG
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