I finally sent off the edited ms of Tales of Terror from the Tunnel's Mouth. I actually think it may be the strongest of the Tales of Terror books, but I have found the editing process painfully slow this time.
The trick is to be flexible enough to be open to the possibility that you may not have written the perfect story, whilst not losing confidence and letting the substance of the story slip through your fingers. The right change can make a story. The wrong one can unpick the fabric.
Helen Szirtes has worked on all the Tales of Terror books and I value her opinion highly. She sent a list of queries about the stories and most were easily sorted out with minor additions or alterations. She also suggested a reordering of the stories, though - and that proved more problematic.
The stories always have a connecting narrative and this can be very difficult to rearrange. The relationship between the narrator and the storyteller (the narrator being the person listening to the stories, if you see what I mean) develops as the book goes on and this narrative can be hard to unpick from the stories themselves.
It may have something to do with the way I write the books. I do not - as might seem likely (and possibly easier) write the stories and then put them in order and write the bits in between. I write quite a lot of the story, its true, but I put them into the mix before they are finished. I don't want it to become just a short story collection with a narrator tacked on. I want the whole book to hang together. The stories become like chapters to me. Once they are in a certain order it is very hard for me to see them in a different one.
Anyway - because I think Helen talks a lot of sense - and because I am racked by self doubt - I did change the order. A bit.
And now I'm itching to get back to Ghosts. I must think of another name for this book! Ghosts? What was I thinking?