As I join Josh, CJ, Jeannie, Kelli, Joshua, Sophie, Shane, Tim, and Gabriella – “Criminal Minds” whose writing I greatly admire – I wish could say that I’ve been innocent of making mistakes in my writing. The man who made them may have looked like me, but I was out of town, at home asleep, anywhere but at the scene of the crime. I wish. But while my readers have been too kind to alert me to the mistakes I’ve made, my editors have saved me from a few, ranging from small to very large, that otherwise would have gone into print.
One of the small: In THE LAST STRIPTEASE, a corrupt ex-judge, living the high life, owns a 280 Sun Sport powerboat. I’ve never been on a 280 Sun Sport. I’ve never even seen one in person. But I Google with the best of them and I decided that this boat had the right amount of testosterone for a guy like the ex-judge. I did have enough experience with boats, though, to know that a 280 Sun Sport must be 28 feet long, unless the 280 meant 280 feet, which it didn’t since ads for the boat showed bikini models stretched most of the length of the front deck and I knew they weren’t taller than six or seven feet at most, including the legs. So, I wrote the following lines: “If you stood the judge’s boat on its end, you could use it as a rocket. Twenty-eight feet of speed and power.” Except the 280 Sun Sport isn’t twenty-eight feet long. As my copyeditor informed me, it’s twenty-nine. Why my copyeditor bothered to check that fact I never asked. But I was grateful.
One of the large: THE LAST STRIPTEASE wasn’t originally called THE LAST STRIPTEASE. It was called LITTLE DOGS IN LEATHER CORSETS. It’s a name that’s close to my heart and if I ever buy a 280 Sun Sport I’ll paint it on its stern. But my first readers looked confused after finishing the manuscript and said in the kind of soft tones one uses with the sadly misguided, “Mike, there are no dogs in the book. And no leather corsets.” I corrected them: there are, in fact, two dogs and both of them wear leather corsets, if only for a moment and in an incidental scene. But I took the concern to heart and changed the title to UNROBED. St. Martin’s bought the book under that name, but my editor’s first question was “What do you think of your title” – this in a tone that said how little she thought of it – and I answered, “Actually, I’d prefer to call it LITTLE DOGS IN LEATHER CORSETS.” After an uncomfortable pause, she said, “What do you think of THE LAST STRIPTEASE.” “I love it,” I said.
Thank God for editors.