"American Sons" from the editor's eye
I received a surprise in the mail today. No, it wasn’t a check. It was a postcard of the cover of the book American Sons: The Untold Story of the Falcon and the Snowman, which I edited. The authors, Christopher Boyce, Cait Boyce, and Vince Font, took time to write gracious, thoughtful notes thanking me for my work. Touched by the gesture, their words gave me chills. But in reality, I should be thanking them for allowing me to be part of such a moving, extremely personal story and exhilarating ride! I wanted to share my perspective on this amazing project.
A Bit of History
Vince Font had been a writer colleague and friend for several years when he approached me last summer about editing the book. I didn’t know Chris or Cait and had no knowledge of their history, the previous books, or even seen the movie. The kicker was I’d never edited a book. When I cautioned Vince about that, his response was, “Well, I’ve never written one, so it should work out fine!” But he had confidence in my abilities and his co-authors trusted him and so began the fascinating, collaborative partnership to bring the Boyce’s story to the readers.
As a fellow writer/editor, I’ve always had the respect and reverence talented writers’ words deserve. I also know sharing your thoughts, feelings and personal experiences in a well-crafted, coherent and engaging format is extremely hard work. Add the process of putting to paper Chris’ horrific time in prison, Cait’s unflagging work to free Boyce and Lee, and her struggle with cancer, and you might begin to imagine the effort and soul put forth. My task was to make sure their words were clear and true to the spirit of the saga.
Imagine three writers and one novice editor communicating, revising, suggesting, nudging, vetoing, whining (not much, and it was probably me), and collaborating. Three distinct voices, jumps along a timeline, and inclusion of historical facts, created a high level of complexity. But as the writers began to trust my vision for maintaining cohesion while grabbing the reader, we all hit our stride. Ultimately, passion, professionalism, and a desire to do the best work unified this project. Oh, and an insane deadline… I began editing the book the first of July and the e-book launched on August 18th! For those of you not in the book biz, that’s a crazy turnaround time.
I hope this peek into the editing process gives you just a glimpse of why I’m so proud of lending a hand in creating this book. Thanks to Chris and Cait for opening their lives and hearts to me, and to Vince for taking a chance on a newbie who is thrilled to have been a part of such a great project. As I said in my Amazon review, “A testament to the quality of the writing is that I had to remind myself as I was reading/editing it – THIS IS A JOB! Totally engrossing and engaging read. I know you’ll enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed helping to shape the final, fantastic product!”
Now, go buy the book. You won’t be able to put it down. Trust me, I know.
Freelance writer/editor Nancy LaFever has published thousands of magazine articles and blog posts on topics including fine crafts, emotional health, business, humor, and popular culture. She also writes and edits copy for various industries. LaFever draws on her background and diverse careers as an advertising/marketing maven, graphic designer, fiber artist and hair salon receptionist to inform her writing. A Master’s level licensed psychotherapist and substance abuse counselor, LaFever no longer practices because after 20 years, she finally got it right. She tries really hard not to do more than one of the above at the same time—it confuses people.