Introduction to my life as a crime editor

This is an introductory post starting this blog. I love the idea of CrimeSpace, of having an international, blog-based community to share our thoughts and love for crime fiction. Thus I joined. Having said that, I won't have much time ... you are likely to find here once-in-a-while posts relating to my professional life mostly. And perhaps rants about the German crime scene ;-).

This is what made my life hell put bread on my table since January 1st:

- The translation of Barbara Pope's historical novel Cézanne's Quarry. The German Im hellen Licht des Todes will come out June 2008.
Barbara was my professor in Women's Studies and History at the University of Oregon, back when I was studying in Eugene. She has since become a good friend. This woman is awesome! An American socialist who - seriously - bought a Ford to "support the American workers", a French History and History of Sexuality expert, an ardent feminist, a passionate fan of The Sopranos, and the most knowledgeable guide through the City of Siena. If your get a chance, read her book! I - declared franco-phobe - fell in love with the Provence reading/translating it.

This Spring Rotbuch Verlag, the publishing house I mostly work for, is launching the German edition of the US hard-boiled, pulp-noir Hard Case Crime-series. My job was to edit the translations of our first three titles. Do check out the covers - they are spectacular.

- Lawrence Block's Abzocker, a reprint of Grifter's Game which was first published in 1962 (then titled Mona). Lawrence Block, of course, is the indisputable God of US Crime Fiction. If you never read a novel by him, stop reading this and go get one of his books - now. Grifter's Game blew me away. I won't say a word but the ending is nothing like what you would expect from an early 60ties mystery. We bought the old translation which was decidedly seventy-ish, down to the heroine's outfits. In the HCC edition Mona is wearing the obligatory tight red dress, in the translation from the early 1970ties she suddenly was moving around in a green mini and thigh-length boots.

- Allan Guthrie's Abschied ohne Küsse, the original was published as Kiss Her Goodbye. Allan Guthrie is one of the most celebrated new UK hard-boiled writers living and writing in and about Edingburgh. Contemporary hard-boiled at its finest! Rotbuch Verlag recently bought German-language rights to all of his books.

- Ken Bruen and Jason Starr's Flop, originally published as Bust. The tag line is: When you hire someone to kill your wife, don’t hire a psychopath, and that sums up the book quite nicely. It is my favourite of the three. Ken Bruen is Irish, Jason Starr from New York, the mix is just out of this world altogether. The translator Richard Betzenbichler, with a sheer stroke of genius, introduced Bavarian idiom to get the Irish slang across. You have to read it to believe it :-).

Rotbuch Verlag also publishes German mysteries.
- This Spring Rob Alef's Das magische Jahr is going to come out. And although the book is not really situated in the real world of crime and mystery, it's not fantasy, either. "The magical year" is the year of 1968. This book brings together the legendary Beatles concert in Hamburg in the summer of 1968, snow in July, loads of German 1968-related events, and penguin paramedics who speak a language reminiscent of Scottish whiskey labels. It's set in a Berlin as it might be if the 1968-generation had truly gone through with their revolution. Or not. It's Rotbuch's crime contribution to the 40th anniversary of 1968. I did the editing of the book. I might mention that I received the ending fresh from the author's computer 36 hours before the entire manuscript needed to go to the type-setters. Meaning, needless to say, all-night shifts.

- Also in January author Carlo Feber and me conducted a creative writing on-line seminar, a "Novel and Mystery Writing Workshop". The workshop was dedicated to working solely on the participants' projects. All of them had already participated in our other workshops, Creative Writing: Mehr Spaß und Erfolg beim Schreiben (Introduction... and Krimi schreiben (Writing Mysteries). We gave them three "milestones" to work on during these three weeks, then commented and discussed their texts in the group. It might not sound like much, but this is incredible hard work. Each of the nine participants handed in 5 pages of text each Sunday evening, and Carlo and I wrote up detailed comments on plot, language, pov and whatever specific topic we had asked them to work on. This is how I spent my Mondays and part of the Tuesdays during the workshop.

Now, back to work :-).

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Comment by Jane Hammons on October 19, 2010 at 6:32am
Barbara Pope was also a professor of mine way back in the old days at the University of New Mexico, where she was the only woman on the History faculty. I loved her class. It inspired me to major in History and become a teacher. And I'm dying to get my hands on her books!
Comment by Lisa on April 3, 2008 at 11:27pm
How wonderful to be greeted by such brilliant authors! Hi, Allan, it is such a joy to meet you hear!
Comment by Allan Guthrie on March 31, 2008 at 3:52am
Willkommen, Lisa!
Comment by Ken Bruen on March 31, 2008 at 3:17am
Jason and I are thinking of going to live in Germany if they have editors like you......just what germany needs, us two hanging out there
You made Flop ......shine!
Comment by Jason Starr on March 31, 2008 at 1:00am
Comment by Jason Starr on March 31, 2008 at 1:00am
Ditto what Ken said....great meeting you hear and thanks so much for what you've done with FLOP
Comment by Lisa on March 31, 2008 at 12:35am
Well, thank you so much, Ken *blushes*. I don't know about wondrous, as I think of myself as matter-of-fact and all-business. It's your books which are wonders in themselves, and an editor is truly blessed who can work with such an authors!
My very best,
Comment by Ken Bruen on March 30, 2008 at 8:33pm
What a wondrous lady you are
god bless your lovely spirit
We should all be blessed with editors as smart and shrewd as you
warmest wishes
Comment by Lisa on March 27, 2008 at 4:23am
Hi Margaret, thanks for friending which is perfectly okay with me. Ah, yes, the joys of editing! I know exactly which hat you speak of. But it's worth it for the great boosk which I get to work on.
- Lisa
Comment by Margaret on March 27, 2008 at 4:13am
Hi, Lisa,

I would love to add you to my list of friends, if that's okay with you. I hung up my editor's hat recently (the aluminum, pyramid-shaped one with the tassels which I changed to meet my mood), and began to read again for fun. I thought editing was enough to send one screaming into the night, but translating and editing is amazing.


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