James Clavell reaped a record $5-million advance from William Morrow and Avon for "Whirlwind" (17 weeks so far on the N.Y. Times best-seller list), will probably make another fortune from a future film or TV deal--and his name's famous worldwide. But what about the editor specially assigned by Morrow to supervise the rewrite that made the blockbuster publishable?
Jeanne Bernkopf, who describes her work as "book doctoring," says she feels no frustration or envy whatsoever--and is "perfectly happy" as an anonymous editor.
After reading Clavell's original 2,500-page manuscript in February, 1986--it ended up at 1,000 printed pages--Bernkopf suggested that the author add new material, then began "shaping, pruning, asking for more or less on certain characters" and generally helping Clavell with "objectivity." She guided him right up to publication last November--"We were still making changes in page proofs."
Bernkopf, who performed similar tasks on Clavell's "Noble House" for Delacorte, emphasized that the writer "works alone" before she sees his initial draft and is "a very, very fine rewriter."