Before embarking on any author/editor relationship, I—as the editor—like to get to know the other person at least a little bit. That way I can avoid the true crazies and focus on the merely wildly eccentric (and what writer worth his/her salt isn’t a little bit crazy?). And after my first conversation with Jonathan Evison, before we were even sure that Algonquin would end up as his publisher, I knew that if the book auction went my way, I would be in for a good and exciting ride.
In truth, Johnny’s not crazy, but he is crazily dedicated to his craft, and he is devoted one hundred percent to being the best writer he can be. When we first talked about West of Here, I felt immediately that we were on the same page, that I “got” the vision Johnny had for the novel and for the worlds his characters inhabited. I felt we could work together, and, fortunately, he felt the same.
The work we did on the novel was not all that different from the work I have had authors do on dozens of other books: I made suggestions for changes (cuts, additions, shifting something from one place to another), and Johnny adapted them so that they became his own, fitting new pieces seamlessly into the original manuscript, and making the necessary cuts and then sewing everything back together in a way that hid the stitches. It was clear to me that he was a pro: he wanted guidance, but once pointed in the right direction, he could find his way there on his own. And to me, this is the ideal author/editor relationship.
So working with Johnny Evison has been exciting, fun, and gratifying. As a storyteller and writer about mankind’s humanity and the occasional lack thereof, I don’t know many who are better. But more importantly, as a person he is easily one of the best. He’s a dedicated family man and a dedicated artist, but he also loves to have a good time. And because a bond develops between the author and editor that can take on different shapes, I’ve found myself responding variously as Johnny’s uncle, or maybe his best friend, and only occasionally have I been called on to stand in as therapist. But my favorite role, and the one that really has marked our collaboration, is that of surrogate father. Somewhere in our working together Johnny decided that I seemed like a father to him, and he started calling me “Pops.” So now, as we are finishing up the edit of his next novel—the amazingly funny and moving The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving—I am firmly entrenched in that role. Plus there’s a nice trade-off: I get to call him “Son.”
–Chuck Adams, Executive Editor