Even though I’ve never met Becca Rothschild, it seems like we’re friends. She’s always reading and commenting on my blog posts and she seems like an awesome person! So I was super excited when she agreed to an interview!
She is a freelance editor who lives in California, and she said she can view the horizon from her living room everyday. She loves books and her dog Malcolm. Even though he’s a dog, she says he’s her favorite person in the world.
I could really relate to some of her well-thought answers to my questions. For example, I will always love printed books better than digital for the same reasons she stated. She is a true Book Lover. I liked the way she quoted Winnie the Pooh and her reasons for loving books. Here is more about her:
Question: What is your favorite part about reading a book?
Answer: I love reading books because they take me on adventures, either geographically or emotionally. I particularly like the emotional ones because I think our feelings and the way we connect to other human beings (and animals) is what makes us most human. I also like reading other people’s stories — biographies or fiction — because I think learning about other people teaches us not only about ourselves, but about people whose lives aren’t like ours and helps us understand other people and the world better. The more we know, the better we can connect, and the fewer misunderstandings we will have.
Q: Do you prefer real books or digital?
A: I prefer real books. I know digital lets me have more in one place, makes it easier for travel, is cheaper and probably better for the environment. But I like having a physical relationship with a book — feeling it, smelling it, turning the pages, even sliding my finger down the page as I progress. I hope I always will.
Q: What is your favorite book and why?
A: Oh, gosh, I have so many favorite books. But I think Winnie-the-Pooh will always be my favorite, because it reminds me of curling up with my dad when I was a little girl. We read Pooh, and his poetry, for years and years. Sometimes I catch myself reciting Pooh poems when I’m out walking with Malcolm. “The King asked the Queen and the Queen asked the Dairymaid, do we have some butter for the royal slice of bread?” Or “Christopher Robin had wheezles and sneezles, they bundled him into his bed. They gave him what goes for a cold in the nose and some more for a cold in the head.” I didn’t even have to look those up!
Q: If you were on a deserted island and could only bring three books with you, which ones would you bring?
A: Either Now We Are Six or When We Were Very Young, the Pooh poetry books (better if I can find a combined edition); Little Women, because I love how strong they all were in different ways; Of Mice and Men, because even though it is tragically sad, it is also about love and connection, in different ways, and is beautifully written. This one was hard!
Q: How do you determine the difference between a good book and a not so great book?
A: A great book stays with me. I miss the place and the characters. I quote it long after I’ve read it. I think about the characters’ conflicts and how they resolved them and whether I would have done it that way or how I might have handled them differently. I want to spend more time with them. I think about what might have happened to them. I want more, but I also feel like the story is finished and didn’t leave anything hanging, so I’m satisfied, too.
Q: If you could meet any author and ask them one question, whom would you want to ask and what would you ask them?
A: If I could go back in history, I’d like to meet Louisa May Alcott and ask her what it it was like to be a woman and a feminist in the 1800s, what her frustrations were, how it felt having to write her early articles under a pseudonym, and what she thinks of the freedoms women have and haven’t attained.
Q: As an editor, what is your biggest pet peeve in writing?
A: When people fall in love with a writing device even if it doesn’t serve the narrative. That can be alliteration, a phrase that they keep repeating instead of finding new ways to transition between sections, or really exaggerated descriptions that just don’t say anything and make me wonder what the point is. I also HATE, HATE, HATE grammar and spelling mistakes.
Q: How did you start your career in editing?
A: I was a paralegal after college, and one of my primary duties was to edit and fact-check the briefs lawyers had to give judges to make sure there were no mistakes. I liked that part of the work a lot, but not some of the other stuff, and my brother, who was a journalist, said he thought I might like journalism. So I took some summer school classes and enjoyed them and did well, and went back to school and got my master’s degree. I started as a reporter, but was an editor within a year, and found I liked working with people to make their stories clearer and sharper. After 15 years of journalism, I started doing freelance and lucked into a couple of book projects, and found I could really help people not only write more clearly and more lively, I could also help them find their voices and their confidence. That makes me really happy.
Elena, do you also enjoy editing others’ work? I agree with the author it’s a great way to grow your own writing skills. Do you ever ask other people to read and edit your work?