Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Odds and Ends from the Haunted Opera

We’ve been going through our archives of late – trying to make sense of a decade of information – and found a file of notes we took from the old Compleat Bellairs forum provided by none-other-than Brad Strickland. Brad was known to hop on once in a while and answer questions from readers and fans about nearly every aspect of writing and publishing and the like. Apparently at one time (prior to the site's demise c. 2003) the topic was The Doom of the Haunted Opera (1995) and Brad offered up some interesting tidbits.

For example, on page 146 it reads "...the magicians had scrambled up out of the orchestra pit and dashed out past Lewis and Rose Rita."  Shouldn’t that be musicians? Yes, there are magicians in this scene but they weren’t down in the orchestra pit and don’t dash out past Lewis and Rose Rita.

Explains Brad:
"Proofreading failure, pure and simple. There are more of these – no matter how hard one tries, one or two creep through (partly because after proofreading sometimes the type is reset so that there are no "widow" or "orphan" lines). It's easy for a compositor to cut a line, move it, fiddle with it, backspace, and introduce a misspelling based on a misremembered word."
Elsewhere:
  • "I tend to write long, so often the editor will cut paragraphs and I'll have to revise a bit to patch the cuts. (Sometimes this doesn't work very well; there's something fishy about the bikes in the cemetery scene...that resulted from editorial transposition of paragraphs, for instance)."
  • "Has anyone considered the curious case of the telephone numbers in New Zebedee?”
    Okay, we looked this one up and all these years later we think we get it. The number for Lewis’ house is 865 [Doom; 33]. That’s the same number given earlier for both Jonathan’s house [The Letter, the Witch, and the Ring; 97] and Bishop Barlow realtors [The House with a Clock in its Walls; 107]. So apparently, when dialed, 865 may get you more than you bargained for.  In mid-1950s New Zebedee, that is.
  • Post-script, from something we found in 2009: "I still get occasional fan letters asking me to write about the further adventures of Jailbird [the whistling cat]."

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