Interview conducted by Jennifer D. Foster
A career as an editor is often a solo adventure, especially if you’re a freelancer. So we thought one way to better connect with fellow editors was to ask them the W5: who, what, where, when, and why. Read on for some thought-provoking, enlightening tidbits from those of us who choose to work with words to earn our keep.
Nita, please tell us a little about yourself, the kind of work you do, how long you’ve been an editor, etc.
I’ve been editorial director at Simon & Schuster Canada since February 2015. Prior to that, I was a senior editor at Penguin Random House Canada. I acquire, develop, and edit non-fiction, commercial and historical fiction, and promising debut novelists. Authors I have worked with include Paula Hawkins, Roberta Rich, Eva Stachniak, Joy Fielding, Linwood Barclay, Kevin O’Leary, Alan Doyle, Russell Peters, and, more recently, Robert Rotenberg, Iain Reid, Robert Bateman, Jody Mitic, and Andrew Pyper.
Who: If you could edit one famous author, living or dead, who would it be?
Well, it’s a predictable answer: Shakespeare.
What: What is your favourite punctuation mark and/or a favourite word?
My favourite punctuation mark: colon.
My favourite word: the well-chosen one.
Where: If you could work anywhere in the world as an editor, where would that be?
I’d love to have various bases, ideally in warmer climes—the Amalfi Coast, Costa Rica, Spain, London.
When: Was there ever a time in your life when you seriously questioned your career choice?
I worked both as an actor and as a teacher prior to becoming an editor. While those seem like unrelated pursuits, I see all the work I’ve done as largely the same. I’ve always worked with stories and writing, and characters and motivation.
Why: Why did you choose to become an editor? Or, should we ask: Why did editing choose you?
I love words, story dynamics, and characters, real and imagined. I understand the world through story, through narrative, so editorial work has always seemed like a natural fit.
And, of course, we just had to ask the inevitable how: How would you sum up your motto?
Plot is not a dirty word.
Jennifer D. Foster is a Toronto-based freelance editor and writer, specializing in book and custom publishing, magazines, and marketing and communications.
This article was copy edited by Joe Cotterchio-Milligan.