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Interview conducted by Adrineh Der-Boghossian.
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 Five Ws: 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.
I’ve been in book publishing for close to 20 years, first in New York as a literary scout, then in Toronto as a literary agent, and then as an editor at (the late and lamented) Key Porter Books and at HarperCollins Canada. Between stints as an in-house editor, I’ve always gone back to freelance editing, as it enables me to pour all my attention into my favourite part of the work: the relationship with the writing and with the author. I perform substantive and stylistic editing, and primarily work on literary fiction, as well as some narrative non-fiction and commercial fiction. I live on the top floor of a house in Roncesvalles, in the west end of Toronto, where I try not to be too distracted by the proximity of High Park.
A conversation with Esi Edugyan and her editors: Another successful collaboration between Editors Toronto, Canadian Authors–Toronto, and University of Toronto
by Raya P. Morrison
In January, Editors Toronto, Canadian Authors–Toronto, and the Creative Writing program at the University of Toronto (UofT) School of Continuing Studies struck gold, bringing Esi Edugyan, two-time winner of the Giller Prize, for Half-Blood Blues (2011) and Washington Black (2018), to speak in front of a packed audience of writers and editors. The brilliant Edugyan took the stage along with four of her editors—Patrick Crean, Marie-Lynn Hammond, John Sweet, and Jane Warren—to discuss their collaborations and the editing process.
The event, which took place at UofT’s Sidney Smith Hall, started with an introduction by Lee Parpart, program chair at Editors Toronto, and was followed by Edugyan reading the opening passage from Half-Blood Blues. The audience was then treated to a fascinating behind-the-scenes look into the editorial process as structural editor Jane Warren and copy editor Marie-Lynn Hammond shed light on the different stages of editing, from the first structural edit to the minutia of copy editing.
Here is a short video of Jane Warren discussing the crucial part a structural editor plays in shaping a novel, and how honoured she was “to work on something that’s going to be read and re-read for the decades to come.”
When: Tuesday, January 22, 7–9 pm
Where: University of Toronto, Sidney Smith Hall (amphitheatre), 100 St. George St., (Room 2102)
Co-presented by Editors Toronto, Canadian Authors–Toronto, and the Creative Writing Program at the School of Continuing Studies (SCS), University of Toronto
This special event will bring acclaimed novelist Esi Edugyan together with four of her editors — Patrick Crean, Marie-Lynn Hammond, John Sweet, and Jane Warren — for a discussion about the writing and editing of Ms. Edugyan’s two Giller Prize–winning novels, Half-Blood Blues (2011) and Washington Black (2018).
Have you wondered what it’s like, editorially speaking, to work with an author who has won not one but two Giller Prizes? Would you like to know more about the author-editor relationship on these celebrated books? Esi Edugyan and her panel of accomplished editors will address issues such as these during their talks and the Q&A.
We’ll hear from editors Patrick Crean, Marie-Lynn Hammond, and Jane Warren about the scrambling that ensued when Key Porter Books, the original publisher for Half-Blood Blues, closed down during the edit. And we’ll find out why Montreal editor John Sweet is still talking about the amazing experience he had copy editing Washington Black for HarperCollins imprint Patrick Crean Editions.
This event will feature a reading and a brief talk about the author-editor relationship by Ms. Edugyan and short presentations from her editors, followed by a Q&A. We’ll close the event with a raffle, and time will be allowed for Ms. Edugyan to sign books.
by Deborah Joy Innes
I was the very lucky winner of two (yes, two!) raffle prizes at the Editors Toronto meeting in September.
The first was the book The New Vine by author Robert Marrone. There were two authors present that night (Robert Marrone and Trevor Cole), along with their editors, speaking about the author-editor relationship.
The second was the last prize of the evening: a one-hour mentoring session with Jennifer D. Foster—editor, writer, mentor, co-chair of Editors Toronto, and administrative director of Rowers Reading Series.
Embarrassed as I was to have won two prizes, the timing of the mentoring session was perfect. (The book set in Italy was also very good.) I’d recently lost my job after 10 years as an in-house copy editor, proofreader, and writer in a legal marketing and communications department. I was now in the process of setting up my freelance copy-editing business. I had many questions.
by Joanne Haskins
Editors Toronto hosted a special branch meeting in January, when acclaimed author Michael Redhill took the stage with his editor, Martha Kanya-Forstner, to discuss the writing and editing of Bellevue Square, the 2017 Scotiabank Giller Prize winner.
Redhill’s novels include Consolation (longlisted for the Man Booker Prize) and Martin Sloane (a finalist for the Giller Prize). He has written a novel for young adults, four collections of poetry and two plays. Redhill also writes a series of crime novels under the name Inger Ash Wolfe and is an editor and Editors Canada member. Kanya-Forstner is editor-in-chief for both Doubleday Canada and McClelland & Stewart. Along with Redhill’s prizewinner, she’s edited David Chariandy’s novel Brother, which won the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, and James Maskalyk’s Life on the Ground Floor, winner of the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction.
There were few empty seats and the audience of writers, writing students and editors anticipated an enlightening discussion as two of the most highly regarded figures in Canadian literature today promised to reveal the ins and outs of the editor-writer working relationship. The biggest takeaway of the evening for editors was “Ask questions.”
After introductions of both Redhill and Kanya-Forstner, each discussed their process as writer/writer-editor, and editor. The respect they had for each other was evident throughout the discussion as they listened carefully to one another, built upon each other’s responses, and focused on each other’s strengths and abilities to bring the best of the writer’s words to the page. (more…)