I was lucky enough to be able to chat with Charlotte Llewelyn-Wells about the editing process with the newest Arkham Anthology Secrets in Scarlet. My Review of the collection can be found here.
Can you start by telling us a bit about yourself?
Hi, I’m Lottie and I’m one of the Aconyte Books fiction editors. I manage a lot of our board game book ranges such as Arkham Horror, Twilight Imperium, Legend of the Five Rings, and Descent along with several of our Marvel ranges! I’m also a massive nerd with both too many and not nearly enough dice, an enormous book collection, and a love of baking.
What do you find the most difficult aspect of editing a collection of stories like this? Is there a certain process you follow each time or is each project completed with a different approach depending on the collection?
Every anthology is different, but they do all follow a similar production process. Usually, once I’ve decided on the theme of the anthology, I’ll talk to the studio and get any lore details I might need, especially if we’re tying directly in to a new product. Then I’ll go on the hunt for some wonderful authors who all pitch us their ideas, and we’ll take it from there.
The most difficult aspect is usually wrangling everything and making sure we meet our production deadlines because there are a lot of plates spinning at the same time. That and choosing which pitches to pursue – we get so many wonderful ones from interested authors that I really have to sit and think about how they’ll all fit together and what ideas will work best both individually and as part of the collection.
What standout qualities do you look for in stories to add to anthologies like these?
I really look for stories that are going to bring the characters and the world to life and make me connect with them. Our stories range from 5,000 to 15,000 words which isn’t a lot of room, so our authors have to make the most of every word. I’m looking for them to draw me in, make me root for the characters and tell me a great story.
Did you find the editing of Secrets in Scarlet easier after working on The Devourer Below collection?
They were both different collections and different experiences and I don’t think one was more difficult than the other. I loved working on both of them!
What first drew you to editing these collections?
I’m the editor of the Arkham Horror range so part of my job is looking at interesting stories we can tell within this world. Both of these collections offered me the opportunity to really delve into a specific part of Arkham Horror and explore it further. Plus, they gave us the chance to tell the stories of some newer Investigators and the shadowy members of the Red Coterie and I couldn’t pass up the chance to show readers how cool they are!
If you had to pick a favourite story so far in the growing Arkham Horror collection by Aconyte could you do it?
I cannot pick a favourite, it’s impossible! I love them all for different reasons and each of them is special in their own way.
Do you have any advice for aspiring editors? Anything you wish you had been told back in the start?
I think my biggest piece of advice is to read. And read everything. Read horrors, thrillers, fantasy, science fiction, romance, plays, comics, classics and new releases, and everything you can find even if it’s not something you’d typically read. Every genre has its own tropes, conventions and expectations and they all have things they do amazingly. As an editor, I often have to draw on my knowledge of genre, tropes and expectations to know what we readers expect, where we can break or flip things, and where things are more fixed. Reading widely gives you a grounding in lots of different types of story and its essential knowledge to have.
Also, editing is a collaborative process and as much about people as it is about books. I work closely with all my authors, and I want to help them make their books the best they can be. So developing good people skills is a must as well!
Secrets in Scarlet is part of the ever expanding worlds brought out by Aconyte books and is available in Ebook now and will be released in paperback in the US from October 18, 2022 and from December 8, 2022 for the UK!