The Falcon and the scaremeister

There was a movie that came out in 1986 called Maximum Overdrive. You might have seen it. It starred Emilio Estevez as a truck stop cook who gets caught in the middle of a worldwide assault on humanity by machines. The movie was a gore-fest, written and directed by Stephen King and featuring a musical score by AC/DC. It was one of the worst movies I have ever loved. It was also one of the most educational, even though I didn’t realize it at the time.

In an early scene, Estevez’s character is taken aside by his boss – a seedy southern fat-cat caricature named Bubba Hendershot – and told that from now on, he would be putting in nine-hour days but only getting paid for eight. When Estevez refuses, Hendershot brings out the big guns: “You’re on parole, boy. Either your ass belongs to me, or it belongs to the state of North Carolina.”

I was a kid then, but that scene stuck with me. More than anything, I saw it as a cheap ploy to get the audience to hate Hendershot – all the better to revel in his violent death later on. I remember scoffing at the notion that any real employer would be able to get away with holding someone’s freedom over their head just to squeeze a few extra dollars out of them. Surely, that could never happen. Not here. Then two weeks ago, I read Cait Boyce’s blog post Of Rehabilitation, Human Dignity and Second Chances and it occurred to me how naïve I’d been for most of my life.

She spoke of the struggle most ex-cons face when finding work, and talked about bosses just like the one above, who would essentially tell their paroled employees, “You’ll work when I tell you, for what I want to pay you, and if you refuse I’ll have you sent straight back to where you came from.”

Reading those words brought the past and present colliding. I sat there slack-jawed, nodding my head in belated appreciation of the artistry behind King’s ploy to sandwich a slice of important social commentary in-between all the rampaging trucks and automatous electric knives. Maybe Maximum Overdrive wasn’t that lame, after all.

But it wasn’t until later that the real kicker to this story smacked me square between the eyes: Bubba Hendershot, that cruel and cold hearted S.O.B. whose on-screen message took 27 years to sink in, was portrayed by none other than Pat Hingle. The guy you might remember as Christopher Boyce’s father in a movie called The Falcon and the Snowman. Talk about irony. My mind is now officially blown.

Vince Font is the co-author of the book American Sons: The Untold Story of the Falcon and the Snowman with Christopher Boyce and Cait Boyce. The book is available now in hardcover from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, and elsewhere.

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“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.

The Process

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.

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