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EDITORS UNEDITED: Anastasia Parkes

We’re delighted to be launching our EDITORS UNEDITED series for Valentine’s Day – and who better to start with than romance writer Anastasia Parkes? Anastasia has been editing with Jericho for over a decade, during which both her writing and her editing tastes have grown and changed. Anastasia would love to work on romance, erotica, women’s fiction, YA, thriller, or your memoir.  

As well as being genuinely delightful to work with, Anastasia writes detailed reports that are completely sensitive and understanding of the work that goes into writing, whilst providing the critique you need to polish your manuscript.  

But enough from me – here's what the ever-lovely Anastasia had to say:  

Q: So that we can learn a bit about you, tell us about one writing-related thing you’re proud of, and one non-writing related thing you’re proud of.  

I am most proud of being commissioned to write ‘The Silver Chain’ erotic romance trilogy written under the pseudonym of Primula Bond and published by Harper Collins.  Still available on Amazon! At the risk of sounding a bit soppy, my proudest non-writing moment was marrying my husband Richard in June 1999, having known and yearned for him for nine years. 

Q: What brought you to the world of writing? What keeps you writing?  

As a dreamy sort of soul, I had always wanted to write romance, and tried my hand at Mills & Boon. They rejected my efforts on the grounds that my sex scenes were ‘too explicit’. So, I turned one of those scenes into a short story and sent it to For Women erotica magazine and it was accepted. I was paid £200 for something which I loved writing and took me precisely my lunch hour (when I was the above-mentioned Richard’s secretary…!) 

I have moved away from erotic romance now as I felt the genre was restricting me from really letting rip with my imagination and plotting and allowing in references of ‘real life’ into my novels. I now write as Maria Lucas and have two novels on Amazon Daddy’s Girl and Loved Ones and a volume of short stories Stabbing the Rain under my own name Anastasia Parkes.  

Q: Tell me about what you're currently working on.  

I have something unashamedly autobiographical in the works based on my earlier life living and working in Cairo, meeting and marrying Richard, and also living with and managing my (thankfully mild) MS. 

Q: You’ve just received a new manuscript to critique: what’s the first thing you do? Walk us through your editing process.  

I don’t always read the synopsis until I have finished reading the draft. I prefer to dive straight in with few preconceptions, and that way I can assess at the end if the author has achieved what they set out to achieve. I settle down with my blank JW report form on the screen and start reading the manuscript carefully, typing notes marshalled under various headings on the report form as my thoughts/opinions/guidance crop up. So I will make a note in my ‘overview’ section about how it ‘hits me’ to begin with (and how it might ‘hit’ a commercial audience), then comment on technical story-telling techniques in a separate section particularly trying to give examples of how to trace a satisfying story arc and avoiding the trap of ‘telling not showing’. In the ‘characters’ section I will comment on the hero/heroine and secondaries, how they relate to others, whether they are filled out with background and individuality and attraction and relatability. I am also notoriously picky about language/grammar and take great pains in explaining and correcting any errors. 

When I have finished the story/memoir I go back over my own notes and start to marshal them more rigidly under each heading, make sure they flow and make sense, and check for repetition of certain points.  All the while I have been viewing the work from a general readership and/or a busy agent’s point of view, and that will help me guide the author as to how marketable their work will be once the revisions I will inevitably have suggested are completed and polished.  I usually have to go back over my own report several times to make sure that it is constructive, comprehensible, tactful and encouraging! 

Q: How do you manage being on the other side of the editorial process – when your own writing is being edited? What should an author who is receiving critique for the first-time be aware of? 

In the early days I was very resistant and defensive about editorial comments on my work, but it is essential that a new author should accept the experts’ advice, strive to put them into practice, and keep reading as the best way to study the craft of creative writing. The more critiques I write the more I learn about my own style and technique and can see flaws in my early work. I think a new author must brace themselves for a really tough but clear-eyed view of their work (their baby, if you will) from a stranger who will pick apart content and technique and marketability but will be aimed at guiding them in the right direction. Some writers are astonished at where they are falling short. Others totally get it and are brilliant at rectifying their work. At the end of the day, I stress that publishing is such a competitive world they MUST produce something original, unique, that will make us (and editors) sit up and take notice. 

Q: What writing do you get most excited about working as an editor on? What really makes you intrigued by a submission?  

Just about everything and anything if I think it has strong characters and a taut theme that pull me in from the get-go. It can be memoir, romance, comedy or tragedy, but I want to be startled, alarmed, amused, horrified – really affected by the work. If someone can make me laugh out loud (intentionally, I mean!), genuinely cry, or shiver with fear, then they have my attention. 

Q: What do you read for pleasure? Is this different to the writing you enjoy working on?  

Actually, yes very different from what I work on or indeed write. My guilty pleasure is well written, pacy, commercial thrillers interspersed with the odd ‘intellectual/literary’ work. 

Q: Finally, if you could only give one piece of advice to all aspiring authors, what would it be?  

Remember my own personal mantra and advice to anyone which is no matter what your genre, we need light, shade, punch, spark. Because without friction there can be no heat. 

Is your manuscript ready for a professional critique? Anastasia is one of 70+ Jericho Writers editors, so we’ll always find your perfect match.  

Head over to our editing hub to see the services that we have on offer. Not sure which service to opt for? Drop an email to info@jerichowriters.com and we’ll be happy to discuss which service would be right for you and your manuscript. 


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Comments (1)
    • Nice mantra. I'm adding that to my editing card, right below the advice from Steven King ;-)

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