Gabriolan is top editor in Canada

Derek Kilbourn

Sounder News

Tuesday, July 11 2017

Gabriolan Dania Sheldon is this year’s recipient of the Tom Fairley Award for Editorial Excellence, presented by The Editors’ Association of Canada (Editors Canada).

Editors Canada presented 5 national awards, including $4,400 in prize money, to 20 recipients. 

The ceremony took place at the association’s awards banquet on Saturday, June 10, at the Crowne Plaza Gatineau-Ottawa.

Sheldon was awarded the $2,000 prize for her work on Charles Gretton: Clock and Watchmaking Through the Golden Age by Dennis Radage, Warner Meinen and Laila Radage (Three O’Clock Publishing).

Sheldon said, “It was a bit of surprise.

“Having been in this line of work for 20 years, I always hoped for it, but it was pie in the sky.

“It is about being acknowledged by people who have been mentors to me - having them saying you did a grand job on this.”

The association, she said, is for editors of all stripes, who work in both official languages.

“It is a really broad spectrum group.”

Sheldon holds a doctorate in English Language and Literature from the University of Oxford.

She got into editing through a workshop at Simon Fraser University.

“There were a couple people presenting who talked about getting into the profession.”

One of the presenters was with Editors Canada and introduced Sheldon into the group.

“Dial forward about 15 years, I’m still with the organization, having served on the BC Executive, and the National Executive.”

The book she received the award for was one which she calls a perfect storm of her having the right skills and background to work on - as it focused on the work of a 17th and early 18th century clock and watch maker.

The book’s designer had recommended Sheldon to the authors, knowing she had a background in early modern english and social history.

“It was absolutely up my alley in terms of subject matter and time.”

Weighing in at ten pounds a book, Sheldon calls it a very detailed and exhausting piece to work on.

It also brought in her ability to read old writing, she also has a background in paleography (the study of old handwriting).

“It was an opportunity to bring together a whole bunch of eclectic skills and I ended up being the right person for the job.”

Sheldon expanded on her choice of career, saying being an editor, in particular a freelancer, suits her for a number of reasons.

“I like working for myself from home, having flexible hours, and being able to live on Gabriola. As I am quiet, rather shy, and fairly solitary by nature, this lifestyle suits me very well. I get to earn my living in a beautiful place with my cats around me each day, and to spend time with my husband (who teaches philosophy at Capilano University) when he’s home.

“I like helping other people, and there is a particular relief and happiness that others experience when you help them express their ideas clearly and effectively. Not infrequently, authors will refer to their editor as the “midwife” who helps them bring their work into the world, or to the “magician” who transforms their creations from good into excellent.

“Related to the previous point, working with a writer on her/his manuscript is often a very personal experience. In the course of my work, I have formed lasting friendships with some remarkable, fascinating, and lovely people.

“I have the opportunity to work across a very large range of subjects –– from hydrogen fuel cells, to mockery and secretism in the Gospel of Mark, archaeology in the Fertile Crescent, post-colonial Algerian literature, Roman theories of translation, open and distance education in the Commonwealth, gender and ideologies in pre-Christian antiquity, emerging economic relations between Asia and Africa, national higher education policies for the government of India, the literary aesthetic of Henry Miller, non-invasive genetics testing for Duchenne muscular dystrophy, yin yoga, and all sorts of other topics amidst that variety, as well as young adult and adult fiction. 

“I am always working on something different and challenging, and I’m constantly learning.

“After being poised to pursue an academic career, I am able, through my work, to retain a vicarious involvement in the academic world without the stresses and politics that such a career would entail.

“I am also a writer, but it is not at all easy to make a living in this way. My editing career enables me to pursue my own writing endeavours in what free time I have.”

Sheldon’s latest book is entitled The Book of Lua and is written through the eyes of her semi-paralyzed cat about what it is like being a cat who is differently-abled, set on Gabriola. A website has been set up at

“There will be a book launch event at the Gabriola library on Friday, 14 July, from 2 until 3:15/30ish. All ages welcome. We will have light refreshments, book readings, balloons for the children, and other treats (plus pawtographed copies of the book).”

The Editors Canada awards banquet is an annual celebration recognizing exceptional editors for their talent and dedication. The association supports the professional development of editors throughout their careers, and is proud to honour the outstanding editors and students in its midst. The cash awards are made possible by Editors Canada and its generous donors.