Every edit I do teaches me more about writing, and every editing client helps me with my own work, even if they don't know it.
I'M A COACH
What is your favorite part of the coaching process?
My favourite part of the process is when I'm up to my elbows in edits and I get an email from a writer asking for my help. That's when I know they trust me and have confidence in my advice. It's a great feeling!
What's your coaching style like?
Respectful, intelligent, and (I like to think) sweet. I'm like an encyclopaedia with hugs!
What genres do you love to edit?
I'm a spec-fic junkie. I love editing all kinds of sci-fi, fantasy, horror, and all the subgenres that don't quite fit into bigger categories, because the kind of skills unique to speculative fiction are my specialty.
I also have experience editing several genres, including romance, contemporary YA, memoir, and women's fiction, and seeing one of these in my inbox makes me very happy.
What do you love most about editing?
I've always wanted to be a writer, ever since I can remember. I had romantic ideas of what a writer's life would be like: alone with my thoughts and a typewriter, maybe a glass of whiskey, maybe surrounded by ashtrays like Hunter S. Thompson, or crumpled up pages like Kurt Vonnegut.
When I grew up a little (OK, a lot), I realised that without learning from other writers I would never be as good as I wanted. That's what I love so much about editing: Maybe I learnt stuff you never did, and you've definitely learnt stuff I haven't. Every edit I do teaches me more about writing, and every editing client helps me with my own work, even if they don't know it.
So my favourite thing about editing is you, my client, and what you can teach me!
Who's your ideal writer match? What are you looking for in a coaching client?
My ideal client is a writer who has a strong vision but isn't quite sure how to get it on the page. It doesn't matter what that vision entails: an entire plot, a character, a scene, or even just a mood that they want to convey.
I think of writers who have strong visions as artists, and that's who I really want to work with.
What was the moment when you felt like a real book coach?
The first time I told someone how much I love my job.
What's been your greatest achievement in coaching so far?
I once worked with a writer who was very new to writing, and who admitted to me that she was sure her work was full of mistakes and needed a lot of revision.
She astonished me with how much effort she put in every week, and her manuscript came along in leaps and bounds over the weeks we worked together. I think my greatest achievement is providing her with the encouragement and support she needed to put in that much effort. I'm very proud of that.
How did you hear about Author Accelerator?
I used to be in a critique partner group with Jade Eby, Megan Lally, and Rachel Lynn Solomon, who all ended up as part of Author Accelerator.
When Jade joined Author Accelerator as the manager of operations, she said she thought I'd fit right in, and asked me if I wanted to apply. I found Jennie's (and Lisa Cron's) philosophy on editing and story really interesting, and decided to give it a shot.
IN MY DOWNTIME...
What's your favorite word?
ходить, which is a Russian verb. Russian has four verbs that could be translated as "to go," but they all mean different things. ходить means "to go, either meandering or with intent to return, on foot."
What genres do you love to read?
I grew up immersed in classic genres of literary fiction: South American magical realism, early 19th-century Russian/Ukrainian literature, Regency women's fiction, early speculative or experimental novels (like Yvgeny Zamyatin's We or Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury).
These days the writing I love best explores the boundaries between the speculative and the literary. I'm interested in works that challenge and trick me, and that use language in unexpected ways.
But when I'm feeling down or grumpy, I just want to read a great story. I like YA dystopian fiction, pop-science, romances, thrillers, horror novels, memoir...the kind of book that means I'm stuck for three hours in a bookstore chair, late for dinner, unable to leave.
My favourite nonfiction books always explore the edge conditions of human psychology: what extreme experiences do to the way we think and what we believe.
What are five of your favorite books?
How can I POSSIBLY choose?
OK, here goes:
- Labyrinths by Jorge Luis Borges
- The Gormenghast series by Mervyn Peake
- The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
- The Martian by Andy Weir
- Perfume by Patrick Süskind
How about nonfiction?
- Speak, Memory by Nabokov
- Running With Scissors by Augusten Burroughs
- Confessions of a Sociopath: A Life Spent Hiding In Plain Sight by M.E. Thomas
- The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine by Michael Lewis
- Chaos by James Gleick
- Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
- The Men Who Stare at Goats by Jon Ronson
- Hunger by Roxane Gay
Who are five of your favorite authors?
My favourite authors have changed how I look at writing.
- Carson McCullers
- Jeff Vandermeer
- Walter Moers
- Mervyn Peake
If you could meet any author, who would it be and why?
I'd like to have a drink with John Kennedy Toole and tell him his masterpiece A Confederacy of Dunces was not only published after his death, but is considered one of the greatest classics of American literature. I think he'd appreciate it.
What are you most excited about right now?
I've just sent out the first section of my manuscript to my critique partners! It's terrifying.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A writer, except that time when I was 8 when I wanted to be a writer AND an oceanographer.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I don't think there is one! I spend most of my time either writing, reading, petting my cats, or playing games with my husband. Some days I'll spend hiking with my mum.
If you could fast-forward a year from now, what would your writing life look like?
I'm writing a book that is really, mega, super, crazy (etc., too many adverbs) important to me. A year from now I want that book to be finished, and I want it to be the book I envisioned from the start.
What about 5 years from now?
I'd like to be an author that people read.