The Outer Circle

By Ian Ridley

Set in the week following the London Olympics, this novel imagines an attack on London Central Mosque and follows five people caught up in its aftermath

Monday, 11 September 2017

We're getting there...

“IN editorial development”, says the update says on the home page for The Outer Circle. So what does that mean? I thought I would try and explain and bring my esteemed pledgers an update…

            Currently the manuscript is with a text editor who is going through it all with the eye of an eagle to check on typos, repetitions, overuse of words, anomalies et al. When you’ve read the book as many times as I have, a fresh eye to save you from yourself is warmly welcomed.

            I am all for good editing. I started life in national newspapers as a sub-editor on The Guardian (or a sbu-editro on The Grauniad, I used to joke) and it taught me their value. Down the years, I had the odd run-in with a sub who knew better than you but more often, I was grateful for their checks and balances that cut out your errors.

            Early in my subbing career, I was given an article by the great cricket broadcaster and writer John Arlott to work on. I found a factual error, a rare one. Hesitantly I phoned him, knowing that some writers were precious about any amendment to their work. “Thank you for spotting it, young man,” he replied when I ran through it with him.

            Then there was the time my sports writing hero Frank Keating made an intemperate remark about his wife in his copy. They were going through a break-up at the time. I couldn’t get hold of Frank so took the reference out.

            Hungover, Frank rang me the next morning soon after the paper had dropped on his doormat in the days when papers were delivered. “M’dear,” he said, offering up the best token of gratitude he knew. “I owe you a drink.”

            As well as being examples of the editor’s role and art, the episodes taught me about graciousness. If Arlott and Keating could be grateful, and not precious, then so could this humble hopeful.

            I certainly have been grateful in this process to an editor by the name of Claire Baldwin, to whom Unbound first sent The Outer Circle, having hit 100 per cent funding, for "structural" editing.

            When the manuscript first came back with edits, I was unable all day to open it on my laptop. I had spent almost four years writing and rewriting this and somebody was about to tear it apart. In the end, I plucked up courage.

             It was a quite brilliant edit. To my relief, Claire liked the characters and the plot but that was not why the edit was brilliant. With a sensitive and sympathetic feel for the material, she had picked up areas where it could be improved, most perceptively in the development of, and relationships between, characters. The result of taking on board her comments and suggestions is, I think, a much better book.

             I now await, with more trepidation, the text edit. I’m hoping it doesn’t come with a YouTube link to that 1980s Orange Juice song – Rip It Up And Start Again.

             All being well, and the work being manageable, I’m told we should be looking at a November publication. Before then, we’ll ensure that all the names of the generous folk who have pledged go in the right places.

             The Tony Adams signed and framed shirt that was pledged for has already gone out and those who have signed up for the Darren Barker and Steve Claridge lunches will be notified where and when they will be taking place; somewhere in London, hopefully before the end of this year.

            While the book is fully funded - and thanks again to all for that - there is still time to pledge to secure a name in the book or another signed shirt or a place at the lunches, if you know of people who might be interested.

            Not long now…



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