The Editor Questionnaire: Meet Michelle Shaw

I was born and grew up in South Africa and I’ve been a journalist for most of my life. Since moving to Canada nine years ago, I’ve been involved in a number of different freelance writing and editing projects. I’m currently completing the Editing Certificate program through Simon Fraser University. I live in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, with my husband, two daughters, a pack of Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and a cat called Tommy.

CP Stylebook or Chicago Manual of Style? Chicago Manual of Style.

Greatest fear? Snakes, and questionnaires like this.

Living person you most admire? It changes. At the moment, it’s the latest recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize, Nadia Murad and Dr. Denis Mukwege.

Favourite punctuation mark? Exclamation mark!

Starbucks or Tim Hortons? Starbucks, unless it’s hot chocolate. Then it’s most definitely Timmies.

Cat or dog? Dogs, plural.

Your idea of perfect happiness? It involves cake or chocolates (I’m not picky), books, tea and a comfortable bed.

Historical person (living or dead) you’d take to dinner? I’d like to host a dinner party with Mikhail Baryshnikov, Louise Penny and Robin Williams.

Favourite place to edit? My office if I’m on my desktop computer; my bed or a coffee shop if I’m working on my laptop or on hard copy.

Favourite fiction author? Seré Prince Halverson. I picked up her first book a few years ago because I liked the cover and fell in love with her writing. I also love discovering new crime writers. At the moment Barbara Fradkin is a favourite.

Superpower you’d most like to have? To transport myself instantly to another place. Then I could visit my friends and family in South Africa, the UK and Australia whenever I wanted, without the bother of a long flight and endless advance preparation… not to mention copious amounts of money.

Your greatest achievement? Motherhood. I’m still amazed that my children have turned out so well. Being a mother has stretched me in ways I never knew I could be stretched.

Who or what would you like to be reincarnated as? I have absolutely NO desire to be reincarnated. Most days I just long for sleep!

Most treasured possession? My books. When we moved to Canada nine years ago, we didn’t bring many things with us. Just some cherished furniture and about 5000 books. I hasten to add that some were children’s books and a few were my husband’s. But most were mine. My husband loves me very much. He’s built me bookcases in every place we’ve ever lived.

Favourite place in Canada? A summer’s day in Saskatchewan when the sky is blue and the sun actually feels warm. And any place along the coast. I love the sea.

Most annoying grammar error? It’s not really a grammar error per se, but I get so irritated when I’m reading a library book or a second-hand book and previous readers have felt the need to correct grammar, typographical errors, etc. It’s like shining a bright spotlight on something that would have been simply a mild irritation.

Greatest regret? Not spending more time with my father. He died when I was 15 and I never really knew him as a person.

Your motto? “I cannot live without books.” Thomas Jefferson.

Your favourite word(s)? Books, words, dogs, tea, food.

Most annoying feature of editors? I guess it’s our endless fascination with words and grammar. I know my husband and children give me strange looks when I wax lyrical on the topic.

Favourite colour? Purple.

Favourite TV/radio show? Because News on CBC Radio. Brilliant, hysterically funny look at the stories making headlines each week.

Onscreen or paper editing? Paper.

Dream career that’s not editing or writing? Researcher/singer/librarian/marine biologist.

Early bird or night owl? Night owl.

Hidden talent? If I told you, it would no longer be hidden.

Favourite smell? Jasmine.

The most immature thing you do? Immature? Me? Never.

Your nom de plume? Revealing it would defeat the purpose.

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