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'A strong editor'

9 October 2006

'Two years to write the first novel. Two years to find a publisher and to get the book on to the shelves. Four years of casual labouring and the dole.

Much has changed in those 50-years-to-now; but one thing has not. The more critically successful a writer becomes, the more need there is for a strong editor. To think otherwise risks artistic suicide. A trusted editor, dedicated to the text and sensitive to its author, is the making of a writer and is the great teacher. On the high trapeze, the Flyer may be the one who draws the applause from the crowd, but it's the editorial Catcher who times the flight.

I have been fortunate in my editors. The readers' reports for the three novels that followed my second all recommended rejection on the same grounds each time: that the new book was different from the previous one. And each time the editor had faith, and published.'

Alan Garner, author of The Weirdstone of Brisingamen in The Times