We’re introducing you to people who are part of the Betterwrite world. Welcome to JUDITH PASKIN.

Judith in Venice, Looking for a Glass Turtle

Judith, what’s your connection with Betterwrite?
I’ve worked as a development editor on a couple of novels for Betterwrite, including Richard Sotnick’s marvellous book The Gods Divided.

Tell us about your work.
I’m a freelance editor, mainly working with children’s books, but I occasionally branch out into adult thrillers when the offer comes along. I carry out detailed analysis of manuscripts, advising authors on things such as structure, pace/tension, characterisation and dialogue. I’m also happy to do minor rewrites, or even ghost-writing if requested.

Before entering the field of publishing, I worked as a broadcast journalist with the BBC for the best part of two decades. So I’ve been writing for many, many years.

What work are you doing at the moment?
I’m mentoring several authors of children’s books, working on my own picture book (Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Lunch?), and I’m about to start work on an adult thriller.

What do you like about your work?
I love the variety: one day I can be editing a funny picture book and discussing illustrations with the artist, the next I might be rewriting a romance scene in a thriller.

What don’t you like?
I take every job very personally – probably too personally! I’m passionate about helping the authors I work with to do well, and that often means having to be brutally honest when things are just not right. It can be daunting telling an author that they need to do major rewrites, but I’m glad to say they always end up thanking me in the end, and we remain friends.

Have you got a personal bugbear?
Authors who explain everything. Let the reader use their imagination. It’s why they bought the book!

What has pleased you in your work?
I’m fortunate enough to have worked with a few authors who have been very successful, been picked up by major publishers and had their books published worldwide. I felt particularly privileged to have worked with Adeline Foo who recently won the Asian Children’s Book Award for her picture book Tiny Feet.

What doesn’t please you?
I’m far too easily pleased. Give me a jigsaw and an audio book and I’m happy.

What amuses you?
My cat amuses me on a daily basis … mainly when she thinks I’m not looking.

Whose writing do you enjoy?
I’m a big fan of Philippa Gregory’s books, and I love historical fiction. But it has to be good historical fiction with a gripping plotline (which isn’t easy to write!). I also love Joanna Cannon’s two books, The Trouble with Goats and Sheep and Three Things About Elsie. She’s a wonderful writer with a truly unique voice.

Favourite title?
It’s got to be my favourite children’s book, Alice in Wonderland.

What do you like about Lewis Carroll’s writing?
What’s not to like? It’s simply crazily wonderful!

Give us a quote.
“If everybody minded their own business, the world would go around a great deal faster than it does” (Alice in Wonderland). Of course, that would put a lot of journalists out of work …

What’s your favourite word in English?
OK, I’m going to cheat here and say wuffling, which is technically not a real word and is in fact totally made up from the picture book I’ve just written. But how dull life would be if we didn’t give ourselves permission to invent silly words from time to time.

Any other quotes?
Winnie the Pooh has the monopoly on great quotes. Here’s one of my favourites:

“It is more fun to talk with someone who doesn’t use long, difficult words but rather short, easy words like, ‘What about lunch?’”

Favourite saying?
You’ll have to ask my mother … she’s got so many. “Don’t trouble ‘trouble’ until ‘trouble’ troubles you” springs to mind. She should probably write a book.

Apart from your work, what plans or ambitions have you got?
To take more time out to relax.

How will you do that?
Let me sit down and have a think …

What have you learned about life?
Life’s too short for regrets, so take opportunities when they arise – even when they seem a bit scary!

What have you learned about people?
If you look for something bad in someone, you’ll always find it. So instead, look for the good in everyone.

Tell us something quirky about yourself.
I had my wisdom teeth removed and two more grew back. Yes, I’m that wise.

Give us a picture with a caption. And tell us a story, true or false, with beginning, middle and end. Choose your length, up to 30, 60 or 120 words.
The picture shows me in Venice, looking for a glass turtle. Therein lies an interesting story:

Sparkling Venetian souvenirs: glass behind glass. I want a turtle. Not a mask. Not Pinocchio. My son’s favourite animal. To let him know that holidays aren’t the same without him. (30)

Posted in EDITOR'S Q & A.

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