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.
Lianne, please tell us a little about yourself, the kind of work you do, and how long you’ve been an editor.
I’ve been an editor for 15 years. Currently, I’m the editor-in-chief of Chatelaine, which is very much my dream job. Prior to this, I was the editor of The Grid, a weekly Toronto magazine owned by Torstar. Over the years, I’ve worked for a range of publications, including Maclean’s, Canadian Business, ELLE Canada, and the National Post.
Who: If you could edit one famous author, living or dead, who would it be?
This is a very tough question. It’s hard to contemplate the possibility that my favourite writers—Haruki Murakami, Mariam Toews, Edith Wharton, Joan Didion, George Saunders, Alice Munro, etc.—would have required any help from me. So just for the hell of it, I would pick either Caitlin Moran or P.G. Wodehouse, both of whom really make me laugh. Or Jane Austen, whose manuscripts I would enjoy immersing myself in for long stretches of time. It might be an opportunity to ask her, do these feisty heroines always have to get married? What would happen if one or two of them didn’t get married? (I might be fired.)
What: What is your favourite punctuation mark and/or favourite word?
I love a clean, simple sentence with minimal punctuation. When I come across a good one, I think of George Orwell’s “Politics and the English Language.” It’s hard to write simply and well. Most of us lean towards embellishment. I’ve only recently allowed exclamation marks to creep into casual correspondence, and I think that’s the influence of social media. Exclamation marks are one step removed from emojis, so I guess I’ve started using them as a middle ground.
Where: If you could work anywhere in the world as an editor, where would that be?
Anywhere I had lots and lots of money to spend on writers, travel, and photography.
When: Was there ever a time in your life when you seriously questioned your career choice?
Never seriously, but there have certainly been moments in the past five years when I’ve wondered if the media industry still suits me, given its rapid-fire evolution. Most of the time, I find the pace of change pretty exciting.
Why: Why did you choose to become an editor? Or, should we ask: Why did editing choose you?
Sassy magazine. Beyond that, editing appealed to me because I was a voracious reader of books and magazines and a bit of a magpie for ideas. I also saw it as pretty romantic. I think it used to be more romantic than it is, but maybe that was always the case.
And, of course, we just had to ask the inevitable how: How would you sum up your motto?
Think big, care lots, have fun.
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.