Authors I have edited include Peter Carey, Kathy Lette, Ruby Wax, Kristin Williamson and others.
I have been a professional editor since 1981. Here are some quotes from one prize-winning author I worked with as a full time editor on six novels, a children’s story, and four screenplays. I also did library research for him.
The Observer UK 1988. Interview with Peter Carey.
‘Alison Summers is the first to read his work. Does she edit him?”
“Indeed she does, though I can’t bear to use the word.”
“Alison Summers plays an important part in his work.” 2001.
“My greatest debt” says Carey, “is to Alison Summers”
‘Carey said that in the years it took to write the novel (“Oscar and Lucinda”) Alison would gently ask questions that forced him into seeing what was missing. …it was true. Without her that book would not have been as emotionally rich and complex.”
Summers is currently script-editing both the films that Carey is writing – the $18 million ‘Till the end of the world’ to be directed by Wim Wenders, and ‘War Crimes’.
“She’s a bloody good script editor” Carey says.
The Guardian 2001.
‘Alison Summers plays an important part in his work. Carey thanks her for her flawless dramatic instinct in the acknowledgements for his latest book, True History of the Kelly Gang.
The fact that she is a theatre director is crucial. His work is very theatrical and dramatic. He has a strong sense for a scene. In Ned Kelly there is a lot of dressing up, for instance, and ‘Jack Maggs’ was a very theatrical novel. It’s an important thing that comes out of that relationship.’
“He has only two words of advice for a young novelist. One is “that it takes a long time to learn to do it” and two “the other thing that’s really helpful is that you have someone who can read your work both critically and supportively.”
Interviewer: Do you do all the research yourself?
Carey: Mostly. Alison Summers, found the Leviathon, the ship that brings Oscar to Australia..
Susan Wyndham Sydney Morning Herald 20/8/94. “although he vehemently points out that he is “nobody’s creature,” he acknowledges her as one of his most valuable editors, especially insightful on characters’ motivations. As she reads, she makes notes…that Carey puts in a desk drawer and looks at when he’s ready..
“She’s inventive” (Peter Carey, SMH 1988)
Peter Carey loves New York, his home for more than a decade, but as he collected yet another literary accolade, he thanked (Alison Summers) for persuading him to write a book about a horse thief and a murderer instead of the city he so admires.
The expatriate Australian novelist turned his attention to Ned Kelly when he was “foolishly trying to write a novel about New York, which I love but know nothing about really.”
The result, True History of the Kelly Gang continues to sweep all before it.”
“She exudes peace and tranquility.” (SMH, 1988)
Peter Carey, SMH 1988: “She’s a creative person”
Sydney Morning Herald 20/8/94.
“He is also attentive to her work…setting The Unusual Life of Tristan Smith in a theatre company.”
1991. “Of course Benny’s ‘sighting’ was not by chance. Alison Summers, theatre director and Carey’s spouse, was rehearsing a play about child abuse”…Benny and his abuse are central to the book.’
Almedia Times- Star. Tax Inspector.
Child abuse was a foreign concept to Carey until (Alison Summers) started working on a play about the subject.
He says his wife’s theatrical background gives her insight into characters and dialogue. Muller describes theirs as “a marriage of creative minds.” (Sydney Morning Herald 1998)
(Peter Carey, Sydney Morning Herald ( 1988) “She’s a fantastic reader.”
Summers has adopted the role of Carey’s unofficial advisor. She reads his work, making notes as she goes, and continually asking him questions, such as “what did you meant here?”
“When I then sit down and am able to answer her questions, the writing becomes richer and more complex,” Carey says.
“She’s inventive” (Peter Carey, SMH 1988) “She’s a treasure.”
Carey seeks suggestions from both McCrum and Summers. He says (Summers’s) theatrical background gives her insight into characters and dialogue. Muller describes theirs as “a marriage of creative minds.” But Carey is still sensitive: he has talked of the way Summers’ suggestions can prompt glares or cause “a field of violent static”.
Susan Wyndham. 20/8/94.
“he shows everything he writes to (Alison Summers)
(Peter Carey, Sydney Morning Herald 1988) “She’s a treasure.”