About the Editor

image of the editor. Haley Hampton

I am Haley Hampton, a word nerd, grammar geek, and fiction lover who lives in the Great Smoky Mountains of western North Carolina. From the time I was little, I only ever wanted to be a teacher, and I did that for several years. Eventually, the twists and turns of life brought me to freelancing, and I started working in a field that had always been of interest but seemed an impossibility without moving to a city with large publishing houses. When I realized that technology and modern publishing opportunities made that unnecessary, I eagerly dived into my career as an editor, putting my wide range of knowledge and love of words, grammar, and story to use. I suppose you could say I took the long way around to reach my dream career of book editor . . .

A Little More About the “Long Way Around”

My love of books and reading began at an early age, and I was soon labeled a bookworm. It was a title that never bothered me, though it was often said with the intent to wound. I am still a bookworm, word nerd, and grammar stickler—at least for the written word. It would be unwise to judge my knowledge of grammar by my speech. I am proud of my southern Appalachian dialect, and though I might drop my Gs from -ing words and sometimes say ain’t, it in no way hinders my ability to know when to use proper grammar in the written word. In fact, it makes me a better fiction editor because I know how to keep dialogue, internal thoughts, and first-person perspectives authentic.

If you had asked me when I was little if I wanted to be a book editor, I probably would have said no, even though the idea of “reading books” for a living would have sounded awesome. From the time I first understood the concept of a job or career, I only ever wanted to do one thing—teach. I never doubted that my calling in life was to be a teacher, specifically a high school teacher. What I could never decide on was what I wanted to teach. I was fascinated by so many subjects—literature, language, history, science. English was a first choice because it combined the desire I had to teach and mold young minds with my love of literature and language. But I also had another love. Agriculture. When I got into high school, I learned that agriculture was a subject I could teach as well. So now I had a dilemma. Which did I want to teach more, agriculture or English?

After much internal debate and struggle, I eventually chose agriculture. I realized that any teacher can (and should be) an English teacher. I could teach students about agriculture while also providing instruction related to writing and grammar. I could also teach history as it related to agriculture, such as the Dust Bowl, the industrial revolution, and the green revolution. And I most definitely could teach science, because modern agriculture is completely centered around science. By teaching agriculture, I was able to combine my many interests.

In college, I earned a bachelor’s and a master’s in education and a bachelor’s in animal science, but I used all my free electives to indulge my love of literature, language, story, and history. I would probably be a professional student if I had not realized that I did not need a college degree in a subject to be an expert in said subject. Books are not merely exercises in imagination that can transport us to other worlds, but they are also useful means to learn and expand one’s knowledge on a wide variety of topics. Even after I was out of college, I continued to expand and develop my knowledge about a variety of subjects, including grammar and creative writing.

Although I had intended to teach for thirty plus years, life had other plans. After seven years in the classroom, I was given the opportunity to work for the National FFA Organization, a leadership and agriculture organization for young people that is near and dear to my heart. Once I started working for National FFA, I found myself with extra time on my hands. When I was teaching, it was normal for me to work sixty or more hours a week, but my new job rarely required more than forty hours. I soon grew restless. I began to wonder if I could put my love of language and story together with my wide knowledge base to become a freelance editor. So I did. I started working part-time for a small publishing house and was once again able to indulge my love of words, plot, and imagination.

Then, my life changed again. My mom was diagnosed with stage four cancer in December 2016. I quit my job with the National FFA Organization and moved back to my hometown. My part-time freelancing work unexpectedly became my sole source of income, so I began to actively take on clients and went from part-time to full-time freelancing. While my mom has since gone into remission, I continue to freelance full time. Since I began my freelance journey, I have had the opportunity to work on a wide variety of both fiction and nonfiction books, and I’ve discovered a career that lets me indulge my numerous interests.