I spent the whole day Monday talking about myself and spreading news about my new role here as Exhibit A Editor, but I never really got very deep into who I really am. There’s plenty of surface info out there about me through my own website and social media accounts, but that’s almost all about my life and work as a crime writer. I don’t see that I’ve ever really dug deeply into my history as an editor.
I got my start as an editor in college when I resurrected the dormant campus newspaper to complain about how poorly my school was spending campus activity funds. I had been a reporter in high school and had attempted a number of novels, but that was the first time I found myself editing work by other writers. That continued at my next university where I was the editor of the literary magazine and worked as tutor in the writing center. This is when I first started freelancing as an editor as well. I came to commercial publishing by way of an internship with Random House in New York City the summer before the September 11th attacks. I wasn’t in New York publishing long before I realized New York wasn’t the city for me and I moved back to my home state of Michigan.
I dabbled in academia, briefly pursuing a career as an English instructor along with other assorted careers in technical support, clerical support, and retail support. I bumped around Ann Arbor in a fog, editing here and there for friends while trying out new and weird things with fiction on the web. One of these experiments was an online anthology of short stories written exclusively by bloggers. At the time, this was very new and exciting and generated quite a bit of press for myself and my co-editor Dave White. We did a few more blog short story projects before diving full on into creating a new crime fiction webzine called Demolition. This was around the time Plots With Guns, one of the pioneering crime fiction zines that helped legitimize web-based crime fiction, shut down for a while and there was a hole that needed to be filled.
I loved editing Demolition. I loved reading slush manuscripts and giving new writers their start and spreading the word of exciting crime fiction. A number of the writers I published first in Demolition went on to successful careers as novelists and TV writers. The zine even won a Gumshoe Award for best mystery fiction website in addition to having stories selected for year end “best of” anthologies. After four years though, the winds of short fiction began to change and I felt it was time to move on.
After I shuttered Demolition, I went through a very dark period creatively. I had some success writing and publishing short stories but was never able to translate that into success writing or publishing novels and gave up several times. Then I got married and had two kids in a very short span of time and found myself working in the healthcare field doing the occasional bit of editing work on the side. Eventually I turned my focus more and more to my editing career, looking to resume full-time work in the field. I began lining up a full slate of freelance clients, including work for Harlequin’s digital-first imprint Carina Press, and was soon able to quit my healthcare job and edit full-time.
Soon after, a few conversations turned into a serious conversation and before I knew it, I was being fitted for my official Angry Robot suit and given the keys to their crime imprint. So there’s the David Copperfield/Catcher in the Rye view of my editing history. Feel free to mock and/or challenge it in the comments.