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An evening with Michael Redhill and Martha Kanya-Forstner

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…)

Editor for Life: Rehana Begg, editor of Machinery and Equipment MRO magazine and REM—Resource Engineering & Maintenance, Annex Business Media

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.

Rehanna Begg

 

Rehana, please tell us a little about yourself, the kind of work you do (where you live), and how long you’ve been an editor.

A couple of decades ago, an internship turned into my first paying job as an editorial assistant at Homemakers Magazine, a women’s lifestyle magazine. I had the pleasure of working with a group of brilliant women who inspired me to change course from being an aspiring news reporter to pursuing a career in magazine editing. I stayed on that course for about 10 years, working at Canadian Home Workshop and launching a freelance writer/editor career. As a freelancer, I was able to peddle my magazine journalism skills all the way to Cape Town, South Africa, where a stint at Best Life, a men’s lifestyle publication, allowed me to interview sources from the sandy beaches of Llandudno. The freelance experience strengthened my belief that journalism nurtures an insatiable curiosity and clued me into what I wanted to focus on in the next leg of my career. When I returned to Toronto in 2008, I decided to pursue a master of journalism degree as a way to foster my interest in business-to-business (B2B) publishing. But the program did not offer business reporting at the time and I had to find a role that would give me hands-on experience. I accepted a contract role as the editor at Benefits Canada, a B2B publication formerly owned by Rogers Media, which was an excellent inroad into the world of finance and institutional investments. From there, I was offered an opportunity at Annex Business Media, where I would edit a couple of maintenance and engineering publications. My role at Annex has been more of a content manager than magazine editor because my multi-platform portfolio includes managing the content of two magazines, two websites, and newsletters, as well as developing events such as webinars, round tables, and video production. It’s a busy desk, but I have still managed to complete an MBA with a project management specialization in my spare time. Staying relevant has been pivotal in ensuring personal satisfaction and career longevity in today’s content farm environment. (more…)

Editor for Life: Kerry Clare, editor of 49th Shelf, author, writing and blogging instructor, freelance writer and editor

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.

Kerry Clare

Kerry, please tell us a little about yourself, the kind of work you do (where you live), and how long you’ve been an editor.

My true confession is that I don’t feel totally comfortable identifying as an editor—I’m not very good at it. I learned this when I edited the essay anthology, The M Word: Conversations About Motherhood, which was published in 2014. I was very effective at coming up with a vision for the book, for conceptualizing it, coordinating the writers and the project as a whole. But when the time came for the nitty-gritty editing work, I realized that I had no idea what I was doing. Thankfully my publisher, Goose Lane Editions, enlisted their fiction editor, Bethany Gibson, to come on board, and it’s from watching her work that I learned that editing is truly a vocation. She had such an awesome sense of the shape of the book and how its pieces fit together, and also a spectacular talent for diplomacy, which is an essential part of the job.

Since 2011, I’ve been the editor at 49thShelf.com, a huge and wonderful Canadian books website, where my tasks involve those that “editor” has grown to comprise in the digital world and helping to envision the site’s focus. I’ve been similarly fortunate to work with an excellent editor who makes me look legit. My colleague, Kiley Turner—nominally the site’s managing editor, among many other hats she wears—has taught me everything I know about style, grammar, punctuation, capitalization, and being detail-oriented. Unfortunately for her, I forget a lot, and she has to tell me over and over again.

While I might fall down in the grammar department, I’m very good at other parts of my job, including staying on top of the hundreds of Canadian-authored books released each month and choosing which ones to feature on our site. Right now I am going through spring 2018 books to find noteworthy titles to feature in our spring preview. I write blog posts and create reading lists to draw interesting connections between different books and find different ways to spotlight titles and catch readers’ interest. I love that reading books is officially part of my job, and that I get to work with authors to help spread the word about their books. This isn’t a job that existed back when I was dreaming up my future, and my younger self would not be able to fathom it. Quite frankly, I still can’t quite fathom it.

My office is my kitchen table at my apartment in downtown Toronto, and I work while my children are at school. (more…)

Editor for Life: Jeanne McKane, freelance editor, co-chair of the Editors Canada Certification Steering Committee, and 2017 recipient of the Lee d’Anjou Volunteer of the Year award

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.

Jeanne McKane

Jeanne, please tell us a little about yourself, the kind of work you do (where you live), and how long you’ve been an editor.

I have been an editor for 21 years (gulp), and a freelancer for 16 of those (whoa). My first-ever paid work in editing was as a proofreader for a small company that publishes travel trade magazines. It was spectacular training ground: an endless supply of proofreading, and a production manager who wanted an apprentice, so I was able to learn a great deal about print production. From there, I worked in publications at the Canadian Diabetes Association, and when another staff member left, I suddenly became managing editor of their medical journal! I didn’t know much about the world of journal publishing, so it was a real trial by fire, but that job turned into another job in medical editing, which led to a freelance career specializing in medical and science editing, and I absolutely love it. Now I work with government, non-profit organizations, journal publishers, corporations and individual authors to improve the quality of science communication. My favourite thing is to help people prepare their journal articles for publication, particularly people whose first language is not English. Sort of an odd career path for someone who studied English, Celtic Studies, and Scottish Literature, but you never know where life will take you!

My work in science editing got me very interested in certification, because I work so much with doctors, nurses, and people in other regulated professions. Early in my career, I was very glad to find the Board of Editors in the Life Sciences, which runs a certification program for science editors, so I took their exam as soon as I was eligible. Not long after that, Editors Canada launched its certification program, and I jumped at the chance to do that, too. I have appreciated the chance to test my editorial skills against the standards set by two national-level organizations. As well, both certifications have been really valuable in my everyday work: they allow me to present myself to clients as a specialist in another field, which creates a very different working relationship. (more…)

Editor for life: Marnie Lamb, freelance editor, indexer, and writer

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.

Marnie Lamb
 

Please tell us a little about yourself, Marnie, the kind of work you do, and how long you’ve been an editor.

My first paid editing job was at the, then named, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, in Hull, Quebec. I was hired during the summer when I was doing my master’s degree in English literature. (I won’t tell you how many years ago that was!) The job was quite a coup for a student, considering that most of my classmates stacked books at Chapters or worked as teaching assistants in mandatory English courses for unruly engineering students.

After I graduated, I left Indian Affairs and pursued other goals over the next few years (including a second master’s degree, this one a combined creative writing and English literature program). I then worked for a year as an editor for a professor at the University of Ottawa before moving to Toronto. I freelanced for a few months and then landed a position as a catalogue editor for an advertising agency that produced all of Sears’s advertising. I remained in that job over five years before making one of the best decisions of my life in September 2009, when I left the agency to start my own freelance editing business, Ewe Editorial Services.

Since then, I’ve completed a Publishing certificate at Ryerson University and watched my business blossom. I work mainly in book publishing, with scholarly, educational, and trade publishers. My specialties are permissions research, indexing, copy editing, and proofreading. Like most other freelancers, I love the variety and the freedom that comes with being my own boss.

Outside of editing, I have many hobbies and not enough time to pursue them! My passion is writing fiction. Several of my short stories have been published in Canadian literary journals. My first book, a preteen/teen novel named The History of Hilary Hambrushina, has just been published by Iguana Books, the publishing company of Editors Canada past president Greg Ioannou. (more…)

Editor for Life: Wilf Popoff, freelance editor, owner/founder of Executive Editorial Consultants

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.

Wilf Popoff

 

Wilf, please tell us a little about yourself, the kind of work you do (where you live), and how long you’ve been an editor.

I edit and write technical material, mainly in law and engineering, disciplines I believe central to our civilization: law fosters its political accord while engineering creates its physical structure. I enjoy having a small role in both camps.

My wife, a non-fiction writer, and I live in Saskatoon, a prairie city with decent libraries and insufferable winters.     

I’ve always been an editor or at least since the last glacier retreated. Volunteering for my university weekly hooked me, and I spent 35 years at two daily newspapers, the Edmonton Journal and the Saskatoon StarPhoenix. Eventually, I no longer edited copy but supervised a newsroom. But at all levels one is still an editor.

When newspapers began to atrophy and no longer needed me I set up a freelance company. And I’m still editing after more than 55 years.

 

Who: If you could edit one famous author, living or dead, who would it be?

I am in awe of famous authors, but for me reading them can be upsetting. I frequently pause and say, “I could never write anything so brilliant.”

Therefore I would be reluctant to touch the MS [manuscript] of any famous author. Only a brave and confident editor could change something Orwell, Waugh or Atwood wrote. A seemingly unnecessary word may have an artful purpose.  (more…)

Editor for Life: Sara Scharf, freelance editor

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.

Sara Scharf

Sara, please tell us a little about yourself, the kind of work you do, and how long you’ve been an editor.

I’ve been editing for pay for more than 20 years. My specialty is academic editing, especially for clients in the sciences, engineering, and medicine. I have many interests and have switched fields repeatedly, completing a PhD in the history and philosophy of science and technology, working as a medical market analyst, and then, as a postdoctoral fellow in engineering, studying how to increase innovation in extremely multicultural environments. I thrive on variety and intellectual engagement, which is probably why substantive editing, stylistic editing, and fact-checking are my favourite editing tasks. Of course, I copy edit, too, but I nearly lost my mind earlier this week putting more than 700 references into APA format on a tight schedule.

Journal articles, grant applications, promotion packages, and PhD dissertations are my bread and butter. While I help my clients further their careers, they give me the opportunity to learn about cutting-edge research in a wide range of disciplines, from paleontology to polymer chemistry to sociology to electrical engineering. Since many of my clients are not native speakers of English, I often learn about their languages and cultures, too. They also inspire me to learn more about my own language and culture when I explain the origins of English idioms and the subtle differences among expressions. I love how some of the questions they ask really make me think. For instance, one client asked me to explain how possible, probable, potential, and putative are different from each other.

Helping people from a variety of backgrounds express themselves clearly and appropriately in contexts requiring vastly different tones draws on my creativity and is very rewarding. (more…)

Editor for Life: Heather J. Wood, freelance editor, author, and artistic director of the Rowers Reading Series

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.

Heather J. Wood

Heather J. Wood

Heather, please tell us a little about yourself, the kind of work you do, and how long you’ve been an editor.

I think of myself as a “wearer of many hats.” I started my career as a marketing copywriter for Reader’s Digest Canada in Montreal and now realize that was part of my early editorial training, as the work often required the editing/rewriting of marketing and promotional material from other Reader’s Digest countries. And, of course, all written material had to conform to Reader’s Digest’s specific house style and proofreading, which was a huge part of the job. I started editing officially sometime after I moved to Toronto, and was focusing more on my own fiction writing, while also working as a freelance copywriter. It was a natural, if unplanned, progression. I learned a great deal about the book-editing process from working with a fiction writers’ workshop and, especially, from working with my fantastic editor, Shirarose Wilensky, on my two novels, Fortune Cookie (Tightrope Books 2009) and Roll With It (Tightrope Books, 2011).

I work with Tightrope Books as the managing editor of the Best Canadian Poetry and Best Canadian Essays series, and I perform a variety of copy editing and proofreading tasks for these two series. As a freelancer, I edit fiction and non-fiction projects, as well as provide individual authors with marketing and publicity services. I’m also the artistic director of Toronto’s Rowers Reading Series and I’m often called upon to edit the series’ grant applications. When choosing writers to read at the series, nothing makes me happier than authors with well-edited books.

The highlight of my editing career so far is the Gods, Memes and Monsters anthology from Stone Skin Press in the UK. I was nominated for a 2016 World Fantasy Award for my work on Gods, Memes and Monsters, which involved curating and editing the short fiction work of 60 international authors. While working on that anthology, I discovered that I very much enjoyed editing fantasy, science-fiction, and horror writers. (more…)