Today I have editor Elaine Denning in the spotlight, talking about her likes, dislikes, virtual dinner guests and her passion for editing…
Firstly, tell us a little bit about you…
Ah! The dreaded question! Well, I’m on the wrong side of forty and live with two mad cats and a wonderful lodger called Martin, a stone’s throw from the south coast in Devon. My son, Dan, is 26 and the best thing that ever happened to me. I have a passion for everything creative – art, photography, music, theatre, and writing. I love German wine, oozy pasta sauces, and being barefoot. I hate spiders, celery, and people who drain their cutlery the wrong way around. Martin says the worst thing about me is that I drain my cutlery the wrong way around.
What brought you into the editing world?
A few years ago when a good friend of mine was blogging his experiences of an absolutely horrific time he spent on holiday in Spain, I encouraged him to self-publish a book about it, which I edited for him. I’ve always been an avid reader, writer, and (shamefully) a grammar Nazi, so you could say that the passion to be in this line of work has always been with me. At first I started working as a copywriter and editor part-time, squeezing it in at the end of my day, but then I took the leap, left my job, and set up my own business. I haven’t looked back.
What is a typical day for you…if there is one…
It usually involves a mug or two of black, decaf coffee, whilst checking emails and getting my Facebook fix before I start work. I’m usually in full editing flow by eight and finish by four, although sometimes there are interruptions (neighbours visiting, phone calls, cats wanting belly rubs). The hardest thing about working from home is trying to convince people that I do, actually, have a job to do! If my day has too many interruptions I’ll have an early night and will be up and at it by three the following morning. That’s the best time for me – when the whole world is asleep and I can completely immerse myself in my work. In the evenings I like to sit in the garden, read a book, drink some wine, listen to some music, and generally chill out. My life isn’t very exciting these days but it makes me happy.
Who is your favourite author and why?
I don’t have a favourite author but I certainly have my eye on Tony Parsons again after his decision to venture into crime writing. I loved the emotional power of Man and Boy, love the way he structures sentences, and how he gets away with breaking the rules by doing a whole lot of ‘telling’ instead of ‘showing’. (I do admire authors who aren’t scared of breaking the rules.) Dorothy Koomson is another author who, in my opinion, is an expert at writing page-turners. I’ve enjoyed all of her books.
If you were to contemplate writing a book which genre would you choose and why?
I have several unfinished manuscripts tucked away in the bowels of my laptop but have no desire to revisit them. Editing really does satisfy the need in me to be immersed in words, so the fact they belong to someone else is irrelevant. However, if I had the urge to embark on a writing career, my first book would be a psychological thriller. I love the tension and suspense, plot twists, and feeling slightly anxious and unsure of things when I’m reading books in that genre. I studied psychology for a year with the Open University and am fascinated by people and why they do the things they do. I’ve watched more documentaries about psychopaths than I care to admit!
If you were holding a dinner party and could invite four guests, who would they be and why?
My family, obviously, but that’s not a very interesting answer! So, leaving them aside, my first guest would be Jesus, just to see if he actually showed up. If he did, I’d have some serious re-thinking to do. My second guest would be David Blaine because if Jesus actually succeeded in turning my tap water into wine, I’m sure David would say “I can do that, mate” and then we’d have twice as much to drink. I’d need someone who could entertain us with a song or two, so Freddie Mercury would fit the bill nicely. (Also, I’d like to see if Jesus would actually leave the table if he was sharing it with a gay man.) My last guest would be Peter Kaye because he makes me laugh and I think he’d help me with the dishes.