Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Interview with Tor Sr. Editor, Claire Eddy

Claire Eddy is a senior editor at Tor/Forge Books and has been with the company for 28 years.  She began editing science fiction and fantasy early in her career and has worked with such authors as Orson Scott Card, Gordon R. Dickson, Fred Saberhagen, and Jack Vance.  

She has brought out such newcomers to the fantasy scene as Jacqueline Carey, Sara Douglass and Juliet Marillier.  While she still edits these genres, she has broadened her projects to include historicals, thrillers and mysteries.  On the mystery side, she has worked with Stuart Kaminksy, Carole Nelson Douglas, and Sharan Newman.  

She’s spent the better part of her adult life working with authors to make their stories and dreams be the best they can be, becoming that “third eye” and nudge to accomplish this feat. And she is the final judge of the F/SF category of The Sandy and will be attending the June 5-8 2014 Crested Butte Writers Conference.

  1. Which categories do you currently acquire/ represent?  Which category has a special/constant place in your heart?
    Answer: I acquire SF/F, mystery, thrillers, and historical fiction.

  1. What length synopsis do you prefer to see with a partial?  Single spaced or double?
Answer: Synopses are torturous for you to write and us to read, but they are helpful in the end! I don’t really care about the format—ultimately it’s the writing that is going to convince me to buy a project.

  1. In terms of submissions, what are you sick to death of and what would you like to see more of?
Answer: My motto is, never say never! So I am loathe to say that I am “sick” of anything. What I am looking for is someone who is passionate and has a story to tell.


  1.  What are the most compelling elements you feel are necessary for a good
     read?   What particularly grabs your attention?


    Answer: While I can teach many tricks to help a writer develop their craft, the essential hook for a story is hard. If the writer pulls me into a story and makes me care about the characters, then I am willing to overlook a lot of flaws.


  1. For you, in general, which elements in a fiction submission are terminal problems garnering automatic rejections and which are tempting and fixable meriting a look at a revision if a talented author is willing to accept your advice? 
    1. Voice
    2. Weak Grammar
    3. Common plot
    4. Poor character development
    5. Story is too controversial (ie rape, politics, religion—what else?)
    6. Mediocre / uninspired writing
    7. Excessive use of violence or cursing
    8. Lacking genre –specific requirements like, suspense/sexual tension/ world-building
    9. Pacing is off—plot is too slow
    10. Story starts in wrong spot
    11. Ending is unsatisfactory
    12. Other
Most of the choices given here, I feel can be fixed if the author is willing to put in the work. Even the simplest of stories can have heart. And that is the key.

  1. Does meeting an author face-to-face at a conference make a difference in your response time, the submission process, or the rejection process (ie. Form letter vs a few sentences of advice)?
Answer:  Sometimes. Although I will admit, like most of my colleagues, I am massively overworked. But meeting me at a conference puts a face to the name and pulls the project out of the slush pile. In addition, I am perfectly happy to get a nudge if you haven’t heard from me in two months. Guilt works wonders…


  1. Besides the writing, the story and the talent, what are the most important elements you look for in an author, ie. contest wins, cooperativeness, affiliations to writers organizations, knowledge of publishing industry, promotability, etc
Answer: The publishing field is a fascinating one at this point. We are all trying to learn how to reinvent ourselves in this new digital age. Anything that the writer can bring to the table to help raise their profile is a good thing, but not strictly necessary.


  1. Do you have any pet peeves?
Answer: This may sound silly, and you might believe it never happens, but please suggest to your writers never to follow an editor and pitch them stories when they walk into a ladies’ room. Or wait for them right outside.

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