Sunday, May 20, 2007

Yes, Patty May Have Gone Out In A Blaze Of Glory

In Patty Campbell's last Horn Book column, The Pottymouth Paradox, she coined two new phrases that may become part of publishing lingo. I don't have the guts to repeat them here because this blog is connected to my website, and I do encourage children to come to said site so there's always the incredibly remote possibility that some ten-year-old will stumble upon this post. But those new terms really are good. And what makes them good is not that they include the f-word (Oops! Sorry kids!) but that they accurately describe what Campbell's describing.

The other interesting thing about this article is that Campbell says that school buyers are more conservative than public library buyers (and the general public in...general..) and that some publishers are trying to tone down language in order to attract those library sales. Or some books will include the language in a trade edition while cleaning up a library edition.

Though I'd heard stories in the past about one particular publisher doing that sort of thing, I wasn't aware that it was happening all that frequently with others.

But enough about that Horn Book article. How can I turn this post around and make it all about me? Let's see...I know! I can tell you my nudie story.

A publishing company that will remain nameless because I'm not stupid and I'm not going to bite the hand that may one day write me another check bought the paperback book club rights to my first book, My Life Among the Aliens. The deal included an option on my next book for Putnam, which ended up being A Year with Butch and Spike. Said company eventually decided not to exercise its option on that book because, as my editor put it, "the full-frontal nudity" in Chapter Three.

No one suggested we make any changes.

We did make changes in Butch and Spike, though, for the German edition. These changes had nothing to do with nudity or language but with cultural differences. There were portions of the book that German readers just wouldn't get. I can't remember what they were now, and I'm too lazy to go hunting through correspondence from years back, but I think we might have dropped a chapter related to Halloween.

Anyway, making changes for that reason didn't seem wrong to me. We weren't talking about people not approving but people not understanding. And, once again, to me writing is all about communication so it made sense to do it.

Intrigued about the frontal nudity in Butch and Spike? Try to find a copy of the book or be sure to enter when I run a contest for a copy of the book sometime this fall.


Kate said...

This story is right up there with Scrotumgate for illuminating the dark side of American prudery.
That episode is a perfect ending to a brilliant chapter -- how could anyone who actually likes to read object?

Gail Gauthier said...

Wow. You've actually read it. I'm delighted.

I took a look at the book while I was writing this post and it is the absolute final sentence to that chapter where the f.f. nudity takes place. It does seem like a small thing to object to.

Miriam said...

You can bet that when I booktalked it, the scene with the full frontal nudity was one I used! (Got a great reaction, too.)