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An Inside Look: Meet the Line Editor of "Shattered Ice", Alison Cherry

Portrait of Alison Cherry the Line Editor of Shattered Ice
Portrait of Alison Cherry

Where are you from, and do you think it influences your craft?
  • I’m from the Chicago suburbs, but I’ve lived in Brooklyn for almost twenty years. A lot of books are set in New York City, and I’m very annoying about the accuracy of subway routes when I copy edit those, but otherwise I don’t think my location has any influence on what I do.


When did you know you wanted to be an editor?
  • I was an author first—I’ve published eight young adult and middle grade books—but my favorite part of the writing process was always stepping away from a draft a while, then going back through it and identifying problems with the structure and character development as if someone else had written it. I always felt most accomplished on the days I wrote edit letters for my author friends. Those things tipped me off that I might be better suited to this side of the process.

When did you fall in love with writing and storytelling?
  • I started dictating stories for my mom to write down when I was three years old, so I guess there has never been a time that storytelling wasn’t part of my life. I’ve had a lot of different careers—I’ve been a lighting designer for theater, a photographer, an author, an editor, and a podcast producer—and all of them are essentially about storytelling.


What about editing makes you get up in the morning?
  • It’s very satisfying to take writing that’s a little rough and streamline it, whether I’m commenting on large structural elements during a developmental edit or smoothing out sentences during a copy edit. I truly enjoy tightening up people’s sprawling writing and making it seamless for readers; I recently helped an author cut nearly twelve thousand words out of his manuscript just by deleting unnecessary and redundant clauses.


What is your favorite type of storytelling?
  • My favorite stories are the ones that skew a little bit weird. The best book I read last year was My Murder by Katie Williams, which is about women who are killed by a serial killer, then cloned and dropped back into their lives. It was completely bizarre, and I’d never read anything like it. I’m easily bored by repetition and predictability, so I always gravitate toward stories where I can’t possibly guess what’s going to happen.

What program do you prefer to use to edit?
  • I use Microsoft Word, but that’s purely because all the publishers I work for require it. I hate it and would throw it into the sea if I could.


Do you have any comments about Shattered Ice?
  • Hold on to your butts, readers—the iceboarding competition scene is going to make your adrenaline spike. I still think about it a lot!  

Do you have any words for anyone who wants to get into editing?
  • If you want to do developmental editing, practice beta reading for writer friends; it’s a great way to learn to spot problems with story structure and give clear, concise, helpful feedback. If you want to be a copy editor, being competent is way more important than having experience, despite what any professional organization might tell you. When I was starting out, I literally cold emailed the managing editors at a bunch of publishing houses and said, “Hi, I technically don’t have any experience, but I’m prepared to prove to you that I’m great at this.” Nearly everyone gave me an editing test and then hired me.


If you could only recommend one book, movie, or series, what would it be?
  • This is impossible, but I’ll give you a narrow category of things. It delights me that I’m starting to see more stories that center nonromantic relationships, especially on TV: Somebody Somewhere, The Bear, Mythic Quest, Hacks, and Girls 5Eva are all great examples. Romance is all well and good, but a vast majority of media makes the assumption that it’s the most important thing to everyone, and that severely limits the kinds of stories you can tell.


How can someone get in touch with you?

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