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Editor interview: Camilla Barnard, Waymaking

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Waymaking co-editors Helen Mort and Camilla Barnard signing copies of the book. 

Fifty-seven contributors, over seventy pieces of prose, poetry and art, three different editions and innumerable checks and rechecks. How do you create a beautiful new book that will stand the test of time and inspire adventures for years to come? We quiz Camilla, our editor and co-editor of Waymaking, about managing this unique and important project.

We’re really excited to be publishing this pioneering book. Did you find it refreshing to not only work on a manuscript that contained such variety but also was entirely written by women?

In short: yes! This was a really unique project to work on, and quite different from other titles I have been a part of at Vertebrate. As a female part-time adventurer myself, I felt like I was well-suited to work on the project and that I could (hopefully!) sensitively work with the female artists involved. It was a really nice change of pace and I feel pretty lucky to have been able to edit such an interesting and high-quality array of works. Thanks ladies!

Waymaking is comprised of over fifty contributions, how easy or difficult was it to manage that number of submissions?

I basically relied heavily on various Excel spreadsheets! Usually when you are just working with the one author on a project you can remember various details such as ‘do I have their biography blurb yet?’, but with this many contributors it just wasn’t possible. I had spreadsheets for: final submissions received, biography received, Kickstarter details … you name it. Version control of the creative writing and poetry was very important, ensuring I was strict about file-naming conventions and archiving old versions.

What was the most challenging aspect of the editing process and what were your highlights?

The most challenging aspect for me was that I was editing creative works rather than, say, an autobiographical narrative. I had to ensure I retained each contributor’s unique voice while maintaining the quality of consistency you expect from a Vertebrate title. The highlights? Hmm, there were so many. I really enjoyed taking the time to consider the chronology and theme headings in the book … though that was tough too!

If you were to work on a similar project again, is there anything you’d do differently? 

That’s a tough question as I think the book is great and I am very proud of it and everyone who worked on it! It would be wonderful to have an even more diverse collection of female voices in another volume, but I think we as a team here at VP worked very well together on this project as we all had a similar vision for it.

When working with our designer, Jane, what were the key things you communicated in your design brief about the tone and feel of the book? What did you want potential readers to glean about the book from the cover and layout?

I did a lot of market research beforehand, and there has been a huge wave this year and last of female-authored books and on the topics of gender imbalance and feminism, so these were titles to look at in particular. My brief included the findings of my research: that current titles tend to be monochrome or two colour, they were minimalist, and typography was very important. It needed the balance between it being a delicate/elegant cover while keeping it strong and bold and powerful. Jane totally nailed it.

Do you have a favourite submission (other than your own ;) )? 

I simply cannot and will not answer this question! It may be ever so slightly easier if I could have a favourite piece of writing, poetry and visual art from each section of the book, but even then … Every contribution made me feel something, and this included: tranquillity, laughter, melancholy, psyche, gratitude, warmth, wonder, et al.

How would you advise the book is read, from cover to cover or would you recommend different sections or pieces for when you’re in a particular mood or seeking inspiration? 

I think the nice thing about Waymaking is that you can read it and view it exactly how you want to. There is a flow to it with the themed sections, but equally I am personally looking forward to dipping in to revisit contributions at random with a mug of coffee, and this will provide many lovely moments individually.

What do you think readers will love about this book?  

Hopefully the same things that I love about it, and more: it’s a tactile and beautiful item to own and to hold; the sheer variety of its content, moods and styles; the exposure of female adventurers’ voices; how relatable it is for an outdoor/nature enthusiast, and the general aura of passion inside it. I love that there are stories of microadventures and colossal adventures in this book, all equally valid and compelling. 

To find out more about Waymaking, click HERE.


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