Some of my most creative thoughts happen when on a dog walk, as do my best conversations with my dog-walking buddy. So I thought I’d invite some of my author friends along to join me and my Ruby and see if I can find out a little more about them and the book they’ve just released.
Today we have something a little different for you though as my guest is not an author. She is, however, a big player in the writing community and is someone who provides a service that no author should consider publishing without using. My guest today is Julia Gibbs, or as she is better known on Twitter, Julia Proofreader.
Julia Gibbs is a proofreader of many years’ experience, who mostly works with novels, but also short stories, novellas and nonfiction books of any genre.
Hi, Julia, I know I’ve dragged you away from your more usual haunt, gazing out at the sea from our Norfolk coast but I hope you’re ready for a hike across the fields of sunny, but somewhat landlocked, Cambridgeshire?
Yes, indeed – I’m always up for a walk, and I was born in Cambridge so I feel very at home here!
I know that you are very busy with proofreading jobs, Julia, but how did you get into that line of work and how long has it taken you to build up your business?
Looking for mistakes in written English is something that has always been ‘my thing’, I just enjoy finding them. I found that wherever I worked, people would end up asking me to correct company communications. At my last job (I worked for 9 years at a firm of architects), the boss decreed that no document should leave the office until I had looked at it. I remember thinking to myself – I should do this for a living, in fact I’d like to! I was already familiar with the world of self-publishing through my sister, author Terry Tyler , so I set about doing all the necessary admin that it takes to create an online business – 6 years later, here I am. I’ve been lucky enough to have always had plenty of work coming in after the first 3 months or so.
I know that there is nothing you like more than finding a superfluous apostrophe, but as I struggle to concentrate on anything for more than a couple of paragraphs at a time, I wonder how do you manage not to lose concentration, and how often do you have to take breaks? Is it true that in order to proofread you have to read a book backwards?
Superfluous apostrophes/dangling modifiers/accidentally hilarious typos – I love ’em all! It’s a fact that one cannot concentrate on the written word for more than 90 minutes maximum at any one time, so I make sure I take regular breaks. If I ever become aware that I’m losing concentration, I stop immediately; there’s no point working on someone’s book if you’re not up to it. I must say, my work makes me feel very much as if I’m in the ‘right place’ – when I open up whatever document I’m currently working on, after I’ve done all the early morning admin, I experience a sense of calm and happiness. Call me weird if you will, it’s just that I love what I do. I am sometimes approached by people who would like to become proofreaders, and asked how to go about it. I say the most important two things are a) make sure you really capable of doing the job properly, and b) you’ve got to love it!
And as far as reading a book backwards goes – well, it wouldn’t work for me because I’d get no sense of continuity, and it would completely thwart my copy editing capabilities. But if it works for anyone else, I wouldn’t knock it!
I know that writing books can spoil your reading of them but what about you? What do you like to read in your downtime? And, do you still find reading relaxing or are your antennae always twitching in pursuit of a missing comma?
I was delighted to find that my work has no effect on my ability to read for pleasure, although to my annoyance I can’t help noticing proofreading errors – and you wouldn’t believe how many there can be in traditionally published books! The last book I read was Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth. Try it, it’s perfect. I have a huge variety of books on my shelves, some I’ve had for decades and others new – they are the most consistent part of my world.
If you could choose to be any character out of any book, who would you choose? And why?
I think this is the point where I’m supposed to show off my highbrow reading habits, but in all honesty I’d like to be one of Jackie Collins’s heroines, because they’re all glamorous, financially independent career women who live in glitzy places – sign me up! I was privileged to meet Jackie at a book launch in the early 90s – see my treasured photo!
A few quickfire ones.
India or Iceland?
Iceland – mostly because I can’t bear excessive heat! Also, I’ve visited Norway, Sweden and Denmark, and would love to see the beauty of Iceland.
The Beatles or The Stones?
Stones – all the way. When I was a little girl in the early 1960s, one had to choose in school, it was considered very important. One also had to have one’s favourite Beatle, mine was John.
Which superpower would you like to have? And why?
I’d like to be able to fly. Sometimes I dream that I can and it’s really easy, I just lift up my arms and go, and when I wake up, I really still think I can for a couple of minutes, and it’s no big deal. A bit like that time I dreamt that Tom Hiddleston was devoted to me – but I digress! (He certainly is a distraction! 😉 Ed)
What piece of advice would you like to give your 16-year-old self – if you were given the opportunity to use a time machine!?
Listen carefully – the moment in the future that you hear about a company called Google on something called ‘the internet’ (trust me) – buy a lot of shares in it.
I believe that perfect days are unplanned, BUT if you were to plan your perfect day what would it look like
The ‘honest but a bit serious’ answer – I think that while I have my health, family, friends, and a source of income from a job that I love, there’s nothing I’d change apart from I wish my mum didn’t have Alzheimer’s, and that my dear friend Jacquie hadn’t died of alcoholism last year.
The ‘fun, flight of fancy, don’t think I don’t mean it’ answer – I wake in my beachside penthouse to find that I’ve grown 2 inches taller, lost 7lbs in weight, and appear 15 years younger. My personal assistant brings me breakfast, after which I spend the morning reading books and watching Netflix. After lunch I’m visited by my stylist, hairdresser and make-up artist, and at 6pm Tom Hiddleston shows up to take me for cocktails then dinner (he asked to take me for lunch, but I told him I need my alone time). Afterwards we have front row seats for an Aerosmith gig and a visit backstage. Yes, I really would like to do all this! And I’m not telling you the rest.
Thanks for joining me, Julia. I’m delighted you have Parallel Lies coming soon on your to-do pile and I just hope you don’t find it too testing!
Hey, I’m looking forward so much to reading it, I do enjoy your writing.
You can contact Julia via her Twitter page http://twitter.com/ProofreadJulia or email her with any queries to firstname.lastname@example.org