In Absence of Fear

In Absence of Fear is a debut novel by Celeste Chaney that examines what it means to be human in a digital age and explores how far we're willing to go in order to feel safe.

Get to know the Editor: Alan Rinzler

I met Alan for the first time nearly a year ago. It was an overcast afternoon in November and I'd flown to Northern California for the day. Parking my rental car on the hilly, tree-lined street, I double-checked Alan's address. His house number matched the one on the beautiful Spanish colonial nestled into the hill above me. Grabbing my computer bag, I took a deep breath, got out of the car and unlatched the gate.

Somewhere overhead, I heard a door open and a voice. "Hello there." I tipped my head up at the terrace and there he was. The sun cut through silver clouds, illuminating the most exquisite shock of white hair I'd ever seen. I climbed the stairs and met his handshake.

I had arrived.

Alan led me inside to a comfortable arrangement of chairs and took a seat opposite me on the couch. A fire pulsed in the fireplace, casting a warm glow on the table between us. Atop it, a beautiful display of grapes, cheeses and flaky croissants beckoned. My trepidation dissolved. At Alan's bequest, I took a croissant. I opened my laptop and we got to work.

In the weeks and months since that first cinematic scene at Alan's beautiful Berkeley home, I've had the good fortune of calling him my editor. He's not only coached me through significant changes to the novel, he's also been an incredible mentor and friend.

I'm very excited to introduce him to all of you.

Over the past 50 years, Alan Rinzler has edited and published authors including Toni Morrison, Hunter S. Thompson, Tom Robbins, Claude Brown, Shirley MacLaine, Robert Ludlum, Jerzy Kosinski, Andy Warhol, Bob Dylan and Clive Cussler. 

He has served as Director of Trade Publishing at Bantam Books, Vice President and Associate Publisher of Rolling Stone Magazine, and President of Straight Arrow, the book division of Rolling Stone.

He was Executive Editor of John Wiley & Sons and held editorial positions with Simon & Schuster, Macmillan, Holt and the Grove Press. Now, as a developmental editor, Alan helps established and emerging authors strengthen their manuscripts and navigate the complex world of publishing.

How did you get your start as an editor?

I was an English major at Harvard, which was a great literary education but ordinarily doesn't lead straight to a definable career. When I headed to NYC after graduating and needed a job, my thesis tutor suggested I see get in touch with a guy at Simon & Schuster and he hired me as his assistant.

This turned out to be a great fit for my passion for writers, literary analysis and critique, and working with the most interesting people I'd ever met, on both sides of the desk.


In your opinion, what makes the author/editor relationship tick?

An editor needs to respect and admire the author and be able to subsume his or her own ego into the world of the story and consciousness of its creator. The author needs to trust and respect the editor, while at the same time having the last word on what editing needs to be accepted, improved, or rejected. It's a close working relationship that has an intense focus for a period, then ends.

What do you need to see in a manuscript to feel like it's a fit for you, editorially?

I've been a developmental editor for literary fiction, thrillers, young adult books, sci-fi, memoir, biography, political, parenting, relationships, and non-fiction self-help books. I feel comfortable working with any good book, really, as long as the author has original content, an authentic voice, and serious intentions.

How was it working on In Absence of Fear?

I enjoyed working on In Absence of Fear because it was a fast-moving suspenseful thriller with a very serious political message of great importance to what's happening in our society right now. I thought it was like a 1984 update for the 21st century.

What do you love most about the work that you do?

I've been working with writers for fifty-three (!) years now and I still get excited when I take on a new project with an author who has something important to say. I get personal satisfaction out of helping something good come to fruition and be read.

All Content © 2015 Celeste Chaney  All Rights Reserved.