Monday, September 19, 2011

Once Upon a Time With Bob Curran by Gina Talucci

If we look back into history—and I’m not just talking 40 or 50 years ago—I mean centuries and centuries ago—one of the oldest traditions that stood the test of time was storytelling. From the beginning, tales were written or passed along by word of mouth generation to generation.

One of the reasons I love working in publishing is because I get to hear stories every single day. Whether it is in a book about business strategies or a book about vampires I always learn something not only from the story, but from the person who is telling it.

The World’s Creepiest Places is my eighth project with Dr. Bob Curran. The first book I did with him back in 2005 was one of my very first edits, and I remember being so immersed in the storytelling that sometimes I would have to flip back pages and pages to edit what I had just read, remembering that my job, after all, was to edit, not read.

I saw Dr. Bob’s book, Encyclopedia of the Undead, on the title list, and though I was very green to the editing process I excitedly asked my director if I could take the project. Since then I’ve been not just Bob’s editor, but Bob’s biggest fan.

Subsequently, my six years at New Page Books have been spent awaiting the next acquisitions meeting when the words “We have another submission from Bob Curran” are spoken. I can never wait to hear what stories Dr. Bob is going to pass on to me next, whether it concerns werewolves, zombies, fairies, or different places around the world.

What makes Bob one of my favorite authors is his ability to tell the story in a way that completely submerges you into the subject matter. Many times I can hear his voice speaking the words instead of just reading something that was conveyed thoughtlessly onto paper. I can feel his passion for the stories, the lore, the history, and that ability to make it feel as though I’m really THERE.

There have been times during the editing phase of his books when I have taken his manuscript home for no good reason at all—his edits are always easy, and always done by the deadline, but it was for the mere fact that I wanted to keep reading. Two of his books, Walking With the Green Man and Zombies, were mostly completed outside of the office due to my inability to put the books down when it was time to go home.

So, when I was approached with the prospect of another book, this one called The World’s Creepiest Places written by Dr. Bob, I had barely read the first page of the proposal when my answer was “Yes, we should definitely do this book!” If someone out there could convey the creepiness of the world’s legends and lore, Dr. Bob would be the one.

As I awaited the manuscript I started to prepare a template and design the format…four months in advance, which is just ludicrous, considering a template is usually designed about a week before the format begins. But I couldn’t wait…I couldn’t help myself. I was excited.

Finally the day came when I got the go-ahead from my fellow editor Kirsten Dalley that Bob’s manuscript was ready for edit. I printed it out, and as I smoothed out the hot, crisp pages fresh from the copier I couldn’t help but think of the world of adventure, fun, and intriguing reading just awaiting my eyes to meet the words.

After reading the first two chapters I ran out to the other room where my coworkers sat and declared that it was my favorite book that Dr. Bob had written yet. As usual I got some skeptical stares, considering I had said that about every single book he wrote for us so far, but I said, “No, really, it is the best one! Definitely my favorite.”

My title here has changed throughout the years. First I was editing his books as an assistant editor, then an editor, then a managing editor, and now as the editorial director. Unfortunately, as the editorial director I don’t get much time for edits—in fact The World’s Creepiest Places is the first edit I’ve been able to do in a long while—but it was worth the weekends of reading it—I mean, editing it—at home, the early mornings of barely being able to have the energy to drink my coffee while I read through another chapter, and putting off more important matters all so I could immerse myself into Bob’s storytelling.

As I grew in the company, my interest in legends and lore grew also. My family and friends always find it so interesting that my days are often spent reading Dr. Bob’s stories about man-made monsters, zombies, or similar subjects. No job can compare to the one I have, and I like it that way. I get to come in every day and continue the tradition of storytelling by doing my part—sprucing it up a bit here and there to make it just right for the thousands of eyes that will read these words after me. I want them to be as excited as I am to get lost in the book. I want to do my part in passing down stories from generation to generation by conveying the message that Dr. Bob wants to pass on.

So, in the end, even if you don’t believe in ghosts or spirits or the supernatural you have to, overall, appreciate the gift of storytelling. You must allow your mind to open itself to a world that Dr. Bob wants to share with you. The story, the words, and the author are what make it come alive. When the lines blur between reality and fantasy THAT is the essence of a story. THAT is the talent of a true storyteller, and whether you believe in monsters, fairies, ghosts, and zombies…or least believe in the story, and would could lie beyond the words on the page.

Gina Talucci joined Career Press/New Page Books in 2005 and currently serves as the Editorial Director. She graduated from Ramapo College with a BA in Journalism, and credits the Harry Potter series for inspiring her transition into the world of publishing and her interest in the fantasy and supernatural genres.

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