One of the beauties of working with author Monica Bruno on the final drafts of her first novel, RACHEL’S FOLLY, is how brave she was in allowing me to do what writers secretly fear of their editors: she encouraged me to uncover, explore, dig deep between the pages, to ask the terrifying questions that would inevitably take her book to the masterful level it is now.
Her trust in me to do this is any editor’s dream. It was her follow-through and determination to bring this story to its highest standard, however, that pushed RACHEL’S FOLLY to its current exciting edge.
Being a “Psychological Suspense Thriller,” it was imperative to Bruno that her story place subtle clues, hints, and strategic foreshadowing without giving too much away. She wanted the mystery to stew in the reader’s mind, for the action to inspire theories, misdirection, bewilderment, satisfaction, awe, questions.
But when she brought her manuscript to me, something was missing. It was flat. Two-dimensional. Like a house that resembled the house next door. And while it had already been professionally edited, something about it just didn’t sit right with Bruno. There was little spark, she said, and she couldn’t figure out why or how to fix it.
When I read the first section of RACHEL’S FOLLY that featured the main character of the book’s title, the missing element was clear. Yes, this was a “working” novel that could have easily been sent off to the printer as it was. Yes, the plot made logical sense, and the exposure of key clues were certainly strategic. What was missing, and what Bruno intuitively felt, was simple: she didn’t fully know her characters. The reason behind their quirks, ticks. Their motivations, desires, aches, jealousies, breaking points. Exactly what were they after, and what stood in their way?
After this discovery, Bruno was then able to ask herself the tough questions. Who are these people? What do they want? Why are they in my head, begging me to tell their story?
She dug, with care and intensity, listening closely for their big reveal. Suddenly all her characters, even minor ones, became recognizable. What Bruno brought to me in her revisions was a whole new level of writing.
It was as if, by letting these characters speak through Bruno, she had unlocked a secret level in a video game that led to extra lives, treasures, points. It tightened the plot, dialogue, tone. The mystique heightened. The tension sizzled. RACHEL’S FOLLY transformed into what the best in its genre (and of any genre) often are: a deliciously heart-breaking (and heart-hopeful) page-turner.
The reviews she’s receiving only affirm the great work she put into it.
B. Case, on Amazon, writes “Another reason why this novel is better than others in its genre, is that the author spends a great deal of time developing her characters and letting us explore their interior lives.”
Walter Conley, via Amazon: “Nothing is rushed. This is a book you can immerse yourself in fully. When the big moments, the twists and revelations, do come, they are geniunely stunning. I expected the final confrontation to play differently, but laud the author’s decision to avoid the obvious ending and present another that was both surprising and true to the characters involved.”
As an editor, I could not be more proud of the depth of Bruno’s accolades. And the giant leaps that Bruno, herself, took in making RACHEL’S FOLLY one hell of a debut.
I’ll be attending Bruno’s official book release Jan. 30, at Casa De Luz in Austin, Texas, at 6:30 pm. If you are in Austin, Texas, please join us. For those in faraway places, I invite you to scour Bruno’s blog, as well as RACHEL’S FOLLY, which is available through Amazon as an e-book or paperback. Remember: reviews are always welcome. 🙂