Stephanie Perkins is the bestselling author of Anna and the French Kiss, Lola and the Boy Next Door and Isla and the Happily Ever After. She is also the editor of My True Love Gave to Me, an anthology of holiday-themed short stories. Stephanie returns as an editor with this latest collection of summery short stories.
Today Stephanie is here to answer a couple of questions about working on the anthology as part of the blog tour for Summer Days and Summer Nights edited by Stephanie Perkins.
Miss Print (MP): This is the second anthology you’ve edited. What was the inspiration? What did you give your contributing authors in the way of guidance or prompting as they began their stories?
Stephanie Perkins (SP): The inspiration for the second anthology was . . . the first anthology. Working with my friends was such a joy, and I relished the opportunity to work with eleven new authors. All of them had so much to teach me both as an author and an editor. I’m always looking for opportunities to become better at my craft. Pulling apart these stories, inspecting their seams, digging in deeper—it’s a brilliant way to learn new tricks. And I’m a good editor, so I think/hope that my work was helpful for them, too.
I gave the authors only three guidelines: Their story had to take place during the summer, romantic love had to be involved, and—no matter how dark the situation got—it had to end on a note of hope.
MP: Your contribution to this collection is a new story featuring Marigold and North (previously seen in My True Love Gave to Me). What was it like revisiting these characters? Did you always know that there would be more to their story?
SP: I’m not sure if I always knew a continuation of their story was worth telling, but I did know where their future was headed. In the early days, I was working under the assumption that I wouldn’t HAVE another chance write about them, so I was trying not to think about it too much. If that makes sense.
But . . . I have a hard time letting go of characters. I always have. So when the summer anthology came to fruition, I knew immediately that I would continue their story. Now, I’m happy with how I’ve left them. In the first story, North helped to heal Marigold. This time, she helped to heal him. They’re good.
MP: How does editing a short story collection compare to writing a full length novel? Did you have a favorite part of the process here? Did your process as an author influence your process as an editor?
SP: It’s easier. A lot easier. I only had to come up with original content for 1/12th of the 400 pages! My writing process is slow and generally agonizing, so . . . yeah. It’s just not even close.
But it’s a huge part of the reason why I love to edit. I’m a slow drafter, and I prefer the tinkering, shimmering stages of editing and revising. It’s where a good story becomes great. My nitpicky brain loves working on that level—finding a better word, a tighter theme, a more developed character, a more textured setting. And I absolutely love helping other authors to find their own deeper, truer stories.
I think most authors become a better editor as they become a better writer. I’m the opposite. I started off with stronger editorial skills, and, as they improve, they’re helping me to become a better writer.
But, being an author, I will say that when I’m wearing my editorial hat, I heap a LOT of praise onto the other authors. I leave tons of notes for them in the margins and mark every single passage or phrase that I love. Writing is difficult work, and I always appreciate it when my own editors take the time to mark their favorite bits. Praise also shows me how to revise my work! It teaches me which parts are the good parts! And that’s revising in a nutshell: adding more good parts, removing the bad parts.
Thank you to Brittani Hilles at St. Martins Griffin for organizing this blog tour and thank you to Stephanie for this great Q & A!