Author & Editor Teams: Editing a Mystery Novel with Liz Szabla

mystery week header

Ever been curious about editor/author relationships? In honor of our newly announced acceptance of All YA, we’ll be featuring different editor/author teams in different genres each week. Next up, Mystery! Editor Liz Szabla teamed up with Caleb Roehrig, author of Last Seen Leaving, to answer some burning questions about putting the finishing touches on thrilling stories and the importance of understanding a genre before trying to write it. And if you missed Liz's questions for Caleb yesterday, catch up here.

Do you love pulse-pounding stories full of secrets and intrigue? We've got you covered!


Caleb Roehrig (CR): What is the most rewarding part of editing a mystery/thriller? 

Liz Szabla (LS): This is going to make me sound lazy, but I don't want to do a lot of development on thrillers. If it's not fully formed, I am not likely to acquire it. That said, my job is to make sure all the pacing, plot points and character development feel satisfying.

CR: What is the most challenging part of editing a mystery/thriller? 

LS: See answer to Question #1. If the thriller/mystery element needs work, I'm not the right editor for the project. Not all authors can pull off a thriller, and I don't want to be in the position of making that happen when it's simply not meant to be.

CR: What advice do you have for writers interested in writing a mystery/thriller? 

LS: Read, read, read and get a feel for pace, plot, and characters. Same for any other genre!

CR: Can you describe the editing process?  

LS: Post-acquisition, I read the manuscript again, with an eye for streamlining. I jot notes and queries to the author in the margins, and I line-edit as well. Then there is usually one more round after that. For Last Seen Leaving, Caleb and I hopped onto FaceTime to talk some things out. He was still living in Finland—I can't imagine what time of day/night it was for him!

CR: Lucky(?) for me, Finland is only seven hours ahead of New York, so 1pm EST is just 8pm over there—still early enough for a healthy FaceTime!

To see Caleb's answers to Liz's questions, see this post

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