25th Trillium Award

Behind the Books, with Steph VanderMeulen

 
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Steph VanderMeulen

When we think of the people behind the books we love, we generally think of writers. But many people work in a variety of professions to get those books onto your shelves. In our new series, Behind the Books, Open Book speaks with the printers, publicists, book sellers, book bloggers, event programmers and many others who work in the publishing industry.

Steph VanderMeulen is a freelance copy editor, proofreader and writer for Canadian publishers and independent authors and businesses. Based in Belleville, she is the brains behind the fabulous, must-read blog, Bella's Bookshelf. Once you visit Steph's blog, you'll be hooked on her "Short Stories for Breakfast" series, her "Litbits" round-ups of the CanLit scene and the honesty and enthusiasm with which she writes. In her Behind The Books interview, Steph tells us about her first freelance job, a childhood dream and the one thing that can keep her from a night of work.

Open Book:

How long have you been at your current job?

Steph VanderMeulen:

I?ve been freelance copy editing, proofreading and writing since 2003. I do it full-time now but for a while I was only part-time and worked at a library and a bookshop at the same time before I decided to take the scary but very rewarding plunge.

OB:

What does an average work day look like for you?

SVM:

I start with a short story for breakfast. I answer my emails and do a little Facebooking and Twittering. My social media blocker comes on at around 10 a.m. till 4:45 p.m. so I can get work done without being too distracted. Then I get down to whatever job needs doing. If I have more than one on the go, I?ll split up my day and work one half on one job, etc. At around lunchtime, I take Lucy, our boxer, to a nearby park where we frolic for a good half hour or more. Then I come home, rustle up some grub, and get back to work till my husband gets home. Often, after supper, I?ll work more. Unless there?s a hockey game on.

OB:

What's the best thing about your job?

SVM:

All the wonderful authors and publishing people I?ve met. I?m so very lucky to work with such great, passionately bookish people. Many have become good friends. Of course, working from home is also pretty awesome.

OB:

Tell us about a memorable work experience.

SVM:

The first freelance job I was given, back in October 2003, for the University of Ottawa Press. I remember sitting at the kitchen table, as I didn?t yet have a desk, with this gargantuan pile of paper, my new dictionary and Chicago Manual beside me, sharpened red pencils and eraser lined up on the side. I felt so excited and grown up! I loved every second of it, making proofreading marks, ensuring everything was perfect. That?s when I knew I wanted to do it for a living.

OB:

When you were a kid, what was your dream job?

SVM:

To get paid to read for a living!



For more Behind The Books interviews, please visit the Open Book Archives.

2 comments

We love Bella's Bookshelf! Thanks for participating in our Behind The Books series, Steph.

Thank you so much for having me! And for the kind words about my blog!

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