Tag Archives: Jann Robbins

Editing a Master

16947Since we announced it a month or more back, it’s no secret that the publisher I work for, Oghma Creative Media, has secured a contract to republish several of Harold Robbins’s books, starting with his debut novel, Never Love a Stranger, under our Iridium imprint.

If you’re not familiar with Harold Robbins, look him up. He’s the fifth bestselling author of all time, and nine of his novels were made into movies, including Never Love a Stranger, which starred a young Steve McQueen.

I just finished “editing” Never Love a Stranger yesterday. I put the word editing in quote marks because, let’s face it, Mr. Robbins’s novels were already edited professionally years ago. The books we’ve contracted to publish are only available (new) as ebooks at present, and we’re releasing them in new editions, with new covers and layouts.

Mr. Robbins writes long, long books. Stranger clocks in at just a few thousand words shy of 160,000. It’s the story of Francis Kane, an orphan, who grew up to eventually become a big-time criminal figure. It takes place mostly in the 1930s (the novel was originally published in 1948), so there were things I had to ignore that we generally would change. Our philosophy at Oghma is that colons and semicolons—for example—don’t belong in modern fiction, yet Mr. Robbins uses both quite often.

We actually had a bit of a debate about this, but in the end elected to leave it as is. Why? Because, in essence, it would be akin to modernizing hrMark Twain or Charles Dickens—you just don’t do it. The aim of Iridium is to make works that are largely out of print available to the public again. At present, we only have a contract for selected works of Harold Robbins, but we hope to expand those offerings in the future.

If you read this book—or, I’m assuming, any of his other works dealing with criminal figures—I think you’ll be surprised. At least I was. Probably the biggest surprise—actually, a confirmation of what I’d seen elsewhere—was that terms I’d thought peculiar to the gangsta culture were actually stolen from the old gangsters of the thirties—terms like calling gangsters gees and guns gats. And while the book isn’t exactly rife with profanity, there are some off-color words that surprised me, considering the era in which it was published.

All in all, it was a pleasure to edit it, despite the time it took (remember, it’s a looong book lol). I’d known about 23240_1Harold Robbins for years, but never read one of his books, which I classify as money/sex/power books, though that might be selling them short. Never Love a Stranger is an epic story, one that tells the entire life story of its protagonist, both from his eyes and—briefly, at least—from the eyes of his friends. Mostly, all I did was look for typos—I think it had been transcribed for the ebook versions Jann Robbins, his widow, published—and a few misused words. Other than that, I was just reading it, hoping I found all the little mistakes that always and inevitably creep into things like this, especially when they’re as long as this one was.

At this point, Never Love a Stranger is due to be published in May, coming from Iridium Press. It’ll be available in print and ebook versions, and you’ll be able to get it at Amazon and Barnes and Noble, among other places.

I think you’ll be glad you read it.