behind the scenes

Behind the Scenes: Back Matter

Several weeks ago, Jessica Tedder, the editor of Square Fish, the imprint at Macmillan which is putting out Birthmarked in paperback, sent me a friendly email about a bonus section for the back of the book.  Such a bonus section, aptly called “Go Fish” for this imprint, typically includes an excerpt from an author’s upcoming book (in my case, Prized), a Q&A with the author, and some discussion questions.  Extras!  If you’re interested in production timing, the paperback of Birthmarked will be released in October, so… Continue reading

Behind the Scenes: A Note on the French Translation

My daughter and I met Hélène Bury, the French translator of Birthmarked, in front of the Hôtel de Ville in Rennes at 10:00 Saturday morning and instantly bonded.  Hélène is funny, smiley, and genuinely nice, and what’s more, she and I have certain things in common that sealed our friendship: we both prefer hot chocolate to coffee and adore Colin Firth.

C. O'Brien and H. Bury, in Rennes

I’m particularly grateful that Hélène was chosen to translate my novel.  In the first place, she has lived in… Continue reading

Behind the Scenes: From Copyedits to First Pass Pages

After I finished going through the copyedits of Prized, I emailed the manuscript back to my editor Nancy Mercado at Roaring Brook in mid-December.  The next step was a series of emails we had in early January, when Nan checked back with me about a few of my changes and other things she’d noticed, like whether a character would be called by his first or last name in a particular line of dialogue.  Here’s another example, with my reply in italics:

Pg 153 “She might be too… Continue reading

Behind the Scenes: Copyedits

I received my copyedits for Prized two weeks ago, along with marginalia from my editor.

A.Copyedits and Marginalia

We work with the Track Changes feature of Word at this point, and when I first received the manuscript, I shrank down the pages to get a general idea of how many comments I’d be dealing with (see Photo A).  The purple comments from Jill Freshney, the managing editor, have to do with formatting, so I largely ignore those. The green ones are from Suzette Costello, the copyeditor who, incidentally, also… Continue reading

Behind the Scenes: A Query Letter

In May, 2008, I wrote to three dozen literary agents to see if any of them would be interested in taking on Birthmarked, then called The Baby Quota.  Here’s my initial email correspondence with Kirby Kim, who now represents me.

Dear Mr. Kim:

In a dystopian future, the world is divided between those who live inside the wall, and those, like sixteen-year-old midwife Gaia Stone, who live outside.  It’s Gaia’s job to turn over her quota of infants to the authorities within the wall, until… Continue reading