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.
Please tell us a little about yourself, the kind of work you do (and where you live), and how long you’ve been an editor.
You might say I’m a homebody in terms of my career, having spent most of it at Owlkids in Toronto, with the exception of two initial years at Key Porter Books. Over my two decades with Owlkids, I’ve had the privilege of holding a variety of positions, such as editor of both Chickadee and Chirp, senior editor of OWL, freelance writer and editor while I was home with small kids, and, currently, managing editor for both magazines and books. I’m also the author of My Canada, a picture book atlas illustrated by Lori Joy Smith. My career has given me a rare opportunity to create and edit high-quality content for kids in magazine, book, and electronic formats, and to work with so many talented and creative people.
Who: If you could edit one famous author, living or dead, who would it be?
Madeleine L’Engle or Annie Dillard. That’s two, isn’t it? I can’t decide—I love the way both women think.
What: Do you have a favourite punctuation mark and/or a favourite word?
I tend to overuse ellipses in informal writing. I have a lazy habit of trailing off…
Where: If you could work anywhere in the world as an editor, where would that be?
Someplace warm. Maybe southern Italy. It’s been a long winter.
When: Was there ever a time in your life when you seriously questioned your career choice?
From time to time, especially when the economy hit a rough patch, though never seriously. Librarian and bookseller were next in line…
Why: Why did you choose to become an editor? Or, should we ask: Why did editing choose you?
The hare-brained dream of working on a magazine took hold of me when I was in high school, and then as I was finishing up at university I discovered Centennial College’s Book and Magazine Publishing program. It seemed like a perfect fit at the time, and now I can’t imagine doing anything else.
And, of course, we just had to ask the inevitable how: How would you sum up your motto?
It’s not really a motto, but I’ll leave you with one of my favourite quotations from the great poet and environmentalist Wendell Berry: “What I stand for is what I stand on.”
Jennifer D. Foster is a Toronto-based freelance editor and writer, specializing in book and custom publishing, magazines, and marketing and communications. She is also chair of Editors Toronto, vice-president of the Toronto branch of Canadian Authors Association, and administrative director of the Rowers Reading Series.
This article was copy edited by Ann Kennedy.