I’m digging, word by word, through the copyedited manuscript of my new novel, The Shadow Tracer. This means I answer the copyeditor’s questions about everything from verb choice to the accuracy of facts included in the story. Some of the questions I’m dealing with for this novel:
1. Should the name Zoe have an umlaut over the e — Zoë? Answer: No. While I love Zoë Sharp as an author and a friend, I don’t want the character in my book to spend her life adding little dots over the final vowel in her name.
2. Did I misspell “crack” as “crank”? Answer: No. They’re two different drugs, and I know which one the evil dude was smoking.
3. Don’t cicadas hatch only once every 17 years? Answer: One variety does. Other varieties are annual — they hatch every year. And after listening to a dozen recordings of their freakishly loud humming, I am positive not only that the insects mentioned in the novel are dog-day cicadas, but that they will haunt my nightmares for months to come.
4. Should shitstorm be one word or two? Answer: I trust the copyeditor’s grammatalogical investigation of the term, and agree that it should be one word.
5. How would a bunch of criminals get hold of a police scanner? Answer: Easy. They’d just do like the rest of us, and buy it on their cell phone from the app store.
6. Does U.S. 60 intersect I-40 in the Texas panhandle? Answer: Wow, did you know that with Google Street View you can take a virtual drive on the highway from Texas all the way up to the Oklahoma/New Mexico/Colorado border? I’d always wondered what the “three corners” spot looked like, and now I know.
7. What about the footprints in the snow? Answer: I’m working on it. I’m working on it.