So, I have another story from my night seeing Neil Gaiman. You might have read the first part here.
At the end of the talk, and at the beginning of the signing, I decided to sit in some empty seats at the very front of the auditorium reserved for Harper Collins editors, who I had seen leaving moments before. All I wanted was to take a photograph of Neil Gaiman as a memento for myself, and there I could get a clear view and shot with my iPhone without being in anybody’s way.
The assistants from the Vancouver Writer’s Festival, who were hosting the event, were coming around to offer a Post-It to people in the front rows, as Neil had decided to gift them extra signatures for waiting in the hot sun all afternoon. I declined, as I wasn’t one of the eligible. A woman had sat down next to me shortly before, and was directing them as to the way Neil liked the notes put into the books.
I struck up a conversation, asking how she knew. Had she been to many of Neil’s signings before? Turned out she was his editor. I only found out later that I was talking to Jennifer Brehl, Neil’s editor from New York, that he speaks highly about. She also has a few other titles than ‘Neil’s editor’: Senior Vice President, Executive Editor, and Director of Editorial Development of Morrow and Harper Voyager. I wish I’d known at the time, but I wonder if I would have taken a different tack. She wasn’t there to talk to me about work or even my work, after all.
We were chatting about Neil’s endless signings and how tired he gets from those days, picking up again and moving on the next day. She had been on the tour for the eastern parts of Canada with Neil; so Montreal, Toronto, etc. She helps out with the events; I heard and saw her helping with those getting signatures. You will even see in the picture I post, she is standing to Neil’s left and assisting. I can’t even imagine how she fits that in with the rest of her workload.
Many think an editor’s work is accepting a book and proceeding to edit it (and even that takes a lot more time than you might expect). But there’s many promotional engagements that you take part in for the people you edit, because if they succeed, so do you. I hadn’t thought that editors at Ms. Brehl’s level would have the time but the factors that drive good publishing are the same regardless of your other commitments.
So thank you chance, for allowing me just a moment to see what being a successful and tireless editor is about. I also hope that I have another chance to discuss work with Ms. Brehl again one day, and that we see this great team working together for a long time, with many more great novels to come.