Editor's Blog

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Jack Galloway, Ph.D., Professor of Writing & Literature, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnnesota


Sidonie Adair and Elaine Wagner


I spent a good part of July and August, 2012 sitting across a dining room table from Elaine Wagner. We both had our laptops open, and we looked at each other over the tops of them as we went about the business of completing the final edit of Blame it on Bovary, Elaine’s nifty new novel. I’m not the easiest editor to work with, I require a lot of baked goods and coffee, and I get cross when writers are lazy. Somebody, I think it was Norman Mailer, said that writers are all vain, lazy, and selfish. Mrs. Wagner, as I’m given to calling her, even though we’ve been friends and collaborators for over a decade, is built of much better stuff though. Her work ethic is as strong as Larry Bird’s, she is possessed of a sort of aw-shucks modesty, and she is generous with her talent and her blueberry muffins. All these qualities, and the muffins and coffee sustained me through the long sessions polishing this gem of a novel.


The summer of 2012 was a hot one, it actually felt a lot like summer where I grew up in Tennessee. So there were a lot of days I would have rather been at the lake with a cold refreshment and a good mystery. But Elaine’s talent and her all-round good companionship made the work go fast. I’ve never worked on a project in quite this way, face-to-face for hours at a time, pushing here and poking there, trying to find the limits of this author’s talent.  The process was a joy. I don’t remember a single cross word, or a time when she wasn’t willing to make the effort to find the better descriptor, the more realistic dialogue, or the more evocative simile, even at those times when I was probably pushing too hard, and she knew it. We even worked without complaint on a couple 95-degree days when her air-conditioning finally gave up. You know you’re doing something right when the air-conditioning bails out before you do. I hope I improved the book, I know the experience made me a better editor.


I guess you can push a good simile too far. But if it stands up once, why not try it one more time. I realize I’ve come to think of Elaine Wagner as the Larry Bird of writers. She’s humble about her talent, hard-working, and possessed of the indispensable writer’s attribute, a tremendous imagination. Take that Norman. 


Tremolo Books, LLC • St. Paul, Minnesota • USA • © copyright 2013 • website by Joan Holman Productions–www.holman.com