Wednesday, October 31, 2007

NO CASTLES HERE - A Clarification

The blurb from NO CASTLES HERE generated a bit of controversy in the comments, so I wrote to the author, A. C. E. Bauer, to see if she had anything to add. She tells me the following:

Just thought you should know: I didn't write the blurb. At my insistence, the final version of the blurb (the one that actually went on the book--I was too late to change what went out on review copies and to Amazon et al.) took out the reference to color, because, truly, it's not the main issue of the book. And Random House took it out only after a great deal of insistence on my end, because this is normally the editor's call, not the author's. I do understand your readers' concerns--I had them myself when I read the blurb.

As to my knowledge of inner cities--I spent some 13 years working in low-income neighborhoods (3 as a law student, 10 as a lawyer) and I loved the folks I worked with and whom I worked for. The homes and neighborhoods I depict, although all fictional, come from those I have either seen, lived in, or spent time roaming around in. (And when my main character gets lost in a housing authority complex, that comes from several occasions where that happened to me.)

I'm sorry the blurb offended some people. I hope the book will stand on its own merits, not on the advertising copy, although I know that that will be what motivates people whether to read it in the first place.

I quoted from the author's email with her permission. She tells me that at Random House, the blurb is the traditionally the editor's domain. The new blurb reads:

AUGIE BORETSKI KNOWS how to get by. If you're a scrawny loser in the destitute city of Camden, New Jersey, you keep your head down, avoid the drug dealers and thugs, and try your best to be invisible. Augie used to be good at that, but suddenly his life is changing. . . . First, Augie accidentally steals a strange book of fairy tales. Then his mom makes him join the Big Brothers program and the chorus. And two bullies try to beat him up every day because of it. Just when it seems like things can't get any worse, an ice storm wrecks Augie's school. The city plans to close the school, abandoning one more building to the drug addicts. But Augie has a plan. For the first time in his life, Augie Boretski is not going down without a fight.

The new blurb used almost the same number of letters as the previous blurb for formatting reasons, so she could not change much.


A.C.E. Bauer said...

Tia, thank you for posting this. Just to be clear, I don't think that my editor agreed to change the blurb just because I came up with wording that kept the format of the page--I think she did understand my concerns once I raised them. But I do think not having to mess with the format made the change more saleable since the cover was already in proof form.

Tia said...

Thanks for clarifying this!

SQT said...

What a great discussion Tia. Honestly, because I've grown up in pretty stereotypical suburban settings, I wouldn't have thought much about questioning the blurb until I read the comments from the previous thread.

I used to work in L.A. and part of my job was interviewing law enforcement for a TV show and they told me straight up to stay out of areas where I was a racial minority or risk getting hurt. One of my co-workers, who came from Compton, said the same thing. I don't know if it gave me a skewed perception of reality but it did make me less likely to question that in certain areas, a skinny white kid would keep their head down. But not having experienced it first hand, I don't know if that's just a stereotype or not.

Kimber An said...

Sounds similar to the trouble some authors have getting input on the covers for their own books.

CaroleMcDonnell said...

Wow, this is better! Thanks, Tia. -C

Moondancer said...

Nice work. This is a much clearer picture of what to expect from the story. Thanks for sharing this with us. :)

Tia said...

Now that we're all curious, I suppose I ought to read the book!