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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.”

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By the Book: HarperCollins Canada’s managing editor Noelle Zitzer’s reading highlights

Noelle ZitzerInterview conducted by Jennifer D. Foster

Have you ever wondered what fellow editors like to read? We have, too. In our interview series “By the Book,” we get the inside scoop on editors’ all-time favourite books, their top style guide, and what their alternate-universe career would be.

Tell us about your current job, Noelle, plus a little-known quirky fact about you.

I’ve had the pleasure of being HarperCollins Canada’s managing editor for 11 years, where I oversee the publication of books of all sorts: cookbooks, literary and commercial fiction, mystery, history, biography, memoir, business, lifestyle, current affairs, popular science, and books for children. The breadth of the program is what attracted me to HarperCollins. There’s something on our list for every kind of reader.

I often describe my position as a bit like an air-traffic controller’s: I coordinate the “flight paths” of our edited manuscripts—sending them to freelance copy editors, proofreaders, and indexers, and redirecting them, in turn, to authors, in-house editors, or the production team. It’s my job to ensure that manuscripts travel smoothly through the final stages, meet professional standards, and arrive on time.

I’m not often described as a “quirky” person, but I’ve gone swimming with sharks, if that counts. It happened in the British Virgin Islands, where my husband and I were married. On our last day, while snorkelling, I became surrounded by a school of fish that completely obscured my view—until they suddenly vanished and left me staring at a black-tipped reef shark instead! I actually shrugged off the first encounter, but when I saw that unmistakable silhouette glide by a second time, I scrambled hastily to shore. The shark was about five or six feet long.

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