The Origin of Lavinia Ludlow’s Single Stroke 7 … and then some
Lavinia Ludlow’s new book, Single Stroke 7, is the latest from Casperian Books—it comes out today. They call it “A sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll tale too impoverished to afford any sex, drugs, or rock ‘n’ roll.” It’s the story of a young woman who plays drums and wants to break into the indie rock scene.
Here, Casperian editor Lily Richards tells the story of how the novel came to be.
This is the story of how Lavinia Ludlow’s Single Stroke Seven went from manuscript query to finished book, or alternatively, how when you mix a small press and a perfectionist, sometimes publishing a book takes longer than having a baby. Or two.
All the way back in 2011, round about the time that her debut novel, alt.punk, was released by us, Lavinia asked me whether I wanted a look at another manuscript she’d been working on about a bunch of musicians struggling in the recession-hit Bay Area. I agreed and in September 2011 we signed Single Stroke Seven with a manuscript submission date of December 31st, 2011, to allow Lavinia to make five changes I’d identified during my first read-through mostly to do with the internal timeline of the book and some of the supporting characters.
In mid-December, she asked for an extension until the end of February 2012, because she’d overcommitted herself on other projects, which was totally fine. A month or two delay for whatever reason is usually built into the schedule in my head anyway because people get sick and go on vacation and illustrators get randomly kidnapped by aliens the day before they’re supposed to deliver the book cover (I actually don’t have any proof for that, but it would explain why some of them disappear off the face of the earth never to be heard from again).
February 2012 rolled around and Lavinia said she’d be missing the February deadline, because she’d started rewriting the manuscript completely. At this point I rescheduled the schedule in my head.
There were periodic updates for the rest of 2012, which started out as “still rewriting” and then morphed into “rewriting again” and then got downright scary:
In early 2013, I asked to see what Lavinia had because I was getting kind of worried at this point that all the rewriting might have resulted in my getting a Kafka-esqe manuscript about a banjo-playing misunderstood American in 1920s Paris who turns into a starfish.
OK, I also had another reason why I wanted to get the book finished and lined up for publication:
So I sent a (light) copyedit of the manuscript-as-was back to Lavinia for approval.
Incongruously, instead of manuscript approval, this arrived in my mailbox:
I correctly interpreted this as another round of rewrites.
By April 2014 the embryo had turned into this
and I got an e-mail with the subject line “I’m ready. Single Stroke Seven is ready” and a manuscript that needed a brand-new copyedit.
Due to Lavinia knowing that she wouldn’t be available for promo in the first half of 2015, we agreed that we would aim for a Fall 2015 release date and I moved another book that was due out in Spring 2015 ahead of Single Stroke Seven in the schedule. By the time that book was cleared off my desk and I was ready to start the copyedit of Single Stroke Seven, this happened,
which caused another tiny, hardly-worth-mentioning delay.
On February 26th, 2015, I returned the copyedited manuscript to Lavinia, with a heartfelt request to move the story—still set in 2011—into 2015.
And then things started happening at lightning speed by Single Stroke Seven standards: after I got Lavinia’s edits on my edits back and went through and made corrections to those edits, I—stroke of genius here which would have been *much* more impressive had I thought of it three years earlier—asked, “Do you actually want me to send this back to you? You have a tendency to try to start from scratch every time you get the MS back, so maybe removing that temptation would be easier. You’d still get the galley for final corrections.”
So Lavinia approved the manuscript without actually seeing the final, final version and the next delay was totally on me, because I went into labor.
Thankfully by kid #2 you’ve learned to use the trackpad with your non-writing hand while burping the 2-year-old on one knee and bouncing the baby on your shoulder (or something along those lines anyway), so that it turned out not to be much of a delay and Lavinia was correcting galleys before the baby was two months old and we set a release date for March 1st, 2016.
Because of this story, I went back and looked at the very first draft of Single Stroke Seven Lavinia sent me, way back in 2011, and while it didn’t get rewritten into a Kafka-sque story about a banjo-playing misunderstood American in 1920s Paris who turns into a starfish, I did end up getting a completely different book from the one I originally signed. But I think I like this new one better.