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#593123 - Tue Feb 08 2011 07:31 AM Interview with Agony
Pagiedamon Offline

Registered: Sun Jun 15 2008
Posts: 2592
Loc: North Carolina USA
Why did you choose the username "agony"?

Advice columnists in newspapers used to be called “agony aunts”. I thought it would be a good name for a trivia site, as agony “has all the answers”. Since I became an editor, I’ve sometimes thought the name is a little unwise – some authors confess they started off afraid of me because of the name, and a few have said that I certainly deserve it!

You are clearly a person who loves to read. Could you describe your home library for us? On a cozy winter night, do you like to read something brand-new, or re-read an old favorite?

My house is about 100 years old, and quite small. Small rooms, with archways between, and low ceilings on the second floor. There is at least one bookcase against every interior wall – I just walked around to check. I’ve got around 5000 books here now, which is down some from when my husband was alive and the kids were home – then there were books stacked on every flat surface. I’ve got some collections – those old red Kiplings with the swastika (very very pre-Nazi) on the cover, original Hardy Boys in the brown covers, Everyman Library editions of the classics from the twenties, a nice leather Mark Twain – but it’s mostly paperbacks. I tend to go on reading jags, reading everything I can get my hands on of a particular author – sometimes an old fav, sometimes new. Right now I’m stuck on John D MacDonald and can’t seem to leave. I also listen to books on tape when I’m at work or doing housework, walking the dog, etc. Thank goodness there seems to be more variety there.

Tell us something about your embroidery. How did you learn it? What kinds of things do you enjoy depicting?

My goodness, I don’t remember ever mentioning that here – are you spying on me? Actually, I don’t do too much anymore. I learned how to embroider when I was about seven, doing those dancing teapots with smiling faces you used to see on teatowels. My mom thought it was something every girl should know how to do. As a teenager I got deeper into it, learning more complex stitches, and being the “old lady” who “embroiders on my jeans” for various boyfriends. Astrological symbols and vines and flowers on backpacks and long skirts, you know the kind of thing. Decorated my kids’ clothes, pillowcases… Someday I’d like to do one of those enormous cross stitch tapestries of Old Master paintings you see in the Mary Maxim catalogue, but I’ll probably never get around to it.

Tell us a little about your family. Are you married? Do you have children?

I was married, for about twenty years. My husband died three and half years ago. My children are both pretty much grown, both going to university in the city two hours from my little town. My son is a huge 6’2” albino with an amazing shock of thick, curly white blond hair and a full beard – think “young Santa Claus”. He’ll be graduating from engineering this spring – his iron ring ceremony ( ) is in less than six weeks! My daughter is in her first year of Early Childhood Education. She fell into her career choice something by accident. In high school, they have to do some work in the community, and she didn’t get around to choosing hers until all the other choices were taken. She ended up working at the kindergarten for an hour and half every day, and surprised herself and everyone who knows her by falling in love with it. Now I live alone with an old dog and an even older cat, swabbing up mysterious stains on the carpet.

What's one of your favorite memories of your family? What's one of your favorite ways to spend time together in the present?

Looking back at my mental snapshots of great times when the kids were growing up, a lot of them are of camping, mostly in the Rockies. I remember one spot on the headwaters of the Red Deer River – it had been raining and very cold for days, and then the sun came out. The kids were building inukshuks with the stones of the riverbed, the water was that amazing turquoise of glacier runoff, blue blue blue Alberta sky. These days we tend to have the most fun when together either watching movies and, I’m sorry to say, snarking on them unmercifully, or playing cutthroat card games. We’ve got a lot of inside jokes; we all talk at the same time at the tops of our voices.

What is a typical Friday night like for you?

Pretty darn tame, these days. I walk the dog as far as weather and my sore feet allow, and then spend most of the evening on the computer. I’m a regular at several blogs and comment boards here and there, and between that and FunTrivia, I spend a lot of time just chatting online. Maybe some karaoke now and then, if I can stay up late enough, but that’s on Thursday. I live in a very small town; we don’t have wild urban excitement like shopping malls and bars with quiz nights here. The best we can come up with is the buffet at the Four Seasons Restaurant Cantonese and Canadian Cuisine for your dining pleasure.

What do you most enjoy about being an editor? Least enjoy?

The teaching aspect of it is a big part – it’s so great to see a new author gain in confidence and skill. I love it when I suggest an avenue an author can take to get around a problem, and the author runs with that idea and takes it places I never would have imagined. Least enjoy? When the necessary adherence to rules is taken as some kind of power trip, or me enjoying throwing my weight around. Some authors take rejection very personally. I’m also not crazy about taking care of correction notes – sometimes they get left a little long, in my categories.

You have edited in many FunTrivia quiz categories over the years. Which one is your favorite and why?

I’d have to say Music, because it is so challenging. It’s a very complex category, with a lot of special rules, and yet most of our authors are very young and inexperienced. I really enjoy teaching them the difference between rumour and fact, and how to incorporate both in a quiz. I’ve also been introduced to quite a bit of music through editing – I quite often buy CDs because I like the lyrics in a quiz.

I know that you work with small children. Could you tell us what your role is with them and what you most enjoy about that work?

Right now I’m back cooking at the daycare, after a couple of years doing other things due to health reasons. I’m more or less my own boss – I have the restraints of my budget, provincial nutritional guidelines, the health code, and what I can get the kids to eat. Within these limits I can do as I like, and it’s a lot of fun. I introduce the kids to new foods as much as possible, and it’s quite a challenge working out how to prepare a dish to meet our needs – the children have to be able to serve themselves, for example. You can’t cook for small children and have much of an ego about it – if hearing “What’s that, it looks gross” will break your heart, this is no job for you.

Just lately I’ve also been given an extra job, that of mentor to other staff. I’m spending a couple of hours every day out with the kids, providing an example and some advice. It’s actually quite difficult to control 18 four year olds without raising your voice or taking punitive measures. I love seeing how kids can be taught and moulded – we model calm words and respect to them, and darned if they don’t start talking calmly and respectfully!

What was your most fun/exciting/rewarding trip, and who did you take it with?

I’m not that much of a traveller, so I’m torn between two different trips. One was a long ago hitchhiking trip with a long lost boyfriend from Edmonton to Prince Rupert on the north Pacific coast, a ferry up the Alaska panhandle to Skagway, then a trip on the old goldrush narrow gauge railway to Whitehorse, Yukon. We then hitched up to Kluane Park, and camped there, and a long hitchhike down the Alaska Highway back to Edmonton.
Another choice would be my first trip to the Rockies with the man who became my husband. I’d been there dozens of times before – my parents took us every summer – but this was something different. Ken never saw a scenic outlook or historic marker he didn’t like. He’d go miles off the highway for a garage sale, and knew dozens – hundreds – of odd little spots and strange byways. Travelling with him was never just a journey from A to B.

Where would you like to go for a vacation some day? This is if you had no real budget constraints.

My dream trip, which might very well happen within the next couple of years, is to drive across Canada, taking my time. I love long car trips. Put a bed in the back of the van and do a sort of “Travels with Charley”.

What is your favorite time of year, and why?

I’d have to say autumn, just because ours here are so beautiful. We don’t get the great colours of Eastern Canada (almost all of our indigenous trees turn yellow), but the weather is so nice, it lasts so long, the sky is so blue….

If you were to practice medicine, what field do you think would be most interesting to you?

What an interesting question. Obstetrics and neonatal, I suppose, just because it is so important, and such a time of joy for most families. Though the idea of being an old time GP, taking care of all the health needs of the town, appeals too – what a variety!

Do you use any social networking sites like Facebook, Myspace, or Twitter. If you do use Twitter, do you follow any celebs?

I’ve been dragged kicking and screaming into the world of Facebook, and am actually quite enjoying it now that I’ve gotten used to it. I mostly friend various members of my very large extended family, and a few friends, old and new. I like the way FB allows us to renew ties to people we knew years ago, and keep just the amount of contact we want – I like to know what they’ve been up to the last thirty years, and don’t mind hearing the odd thing about their lives now, but don’t really want to put a lot of effort into it. FB is perfect for that.

If you could meet any famous person, in any field, alive or dead, who would it be?

Oh dear, this is hard. I think I’d most like to have a beer with Bill Bryson. He’d be funny and entertaining, but not too intimidating. I always worry, in these scenarios, that the famous person would find me boring, but I think I could more or less keep up to Bill.

Thank you all so much for the chance to natter on about myself – this has been a lot of fun. Great questions from my kind interviewers.

Thanks to all who took part.

#593146 - Tue Feb 08 2011 08:34 AM Re: Interview with Agony
ren33 Offline

Registered: Thu Sep 30 1999
Posts: 12531
Loc: Kowloon Tong  Hong Kong      
Lovely interview, Agony! I really enjoyed finding out about you.
Wandering aimlessly through FT since 1999.

#593153 - Tue Feb 08 2011 09:48 AM Re: Interview with Agony
salami_swami Offline
Forum Champion

Registered: Thu Nov 01 2007
Posts: 8760
Loc: Colorado USA
You're not at all a scary editor, agony. You're nice, and your corrections are never hard to hear... wink I think you're a great editor. laugh

5,000 books, wow! I thought our 850 was impressive, but we need to buy over 4,000 more books to catch up! lol. A bookshelf on every wall. If only, if only. That would be so awesome! May I move in? wink lol.
"The only water in the forest is the River."

Editor: Video Games, Entertainment

#593176 - Tue Feb 08 2011 11:49 AM Re: Interview with Agony
CellarDoor Offline

Registered: Sat Feb 12 2000
Posts: 4894
Loc: Seattle
Washington USA
Great answers! It was an honor (and a blast) to be one of your interviewers.

I promise I haven't been spying on you, though. smile A couple years ago you gave me advice in these forums about how to use an embroidery hoop. It was much appreciated! I've used the hoop to great effect since then. Your decorated jeans and backpacks sound quite wonderful.
Just because there's twilight doesn't mean we can't tell the difference between night and day

#593263 - Tue Feb 08 2011 03:47 PM Re: Interview with Agony
guitargoddess Offline

Registered: Mon Jul 09 2007
Posts: 41006
Loc: Ottawa Ontario Canada         
Great interview! And seriously, of all the editors on site who be an 'agony' to work with, I would never say you! (nor anyone else, really - just teasing!)
Editor: Television and Animals

#593309 - Tue Feb 08 2011 04:50 PM Re: Interview with Agony
dg_dave Offline
Champion Poster

Registered: Sun Oct 05 2003
Posts: 24278
Loc: near Stafford, Virginia USA
Originally Posted By: guitargoddess
And seriously, of all the editors on site who be an 'agony' to work with, I would never say you!

Nor would I, because I think agony is a great editor.
The way to get things done is NOT to mind who gets the credit for doing them. --Benjamin Jowett
No one can make you feel inferior without your consent. --Eleanor Roosevelt
The day we lose our will to fight is the day we lose our freedom.

#593822 - Wed Feb 09 2011 09:11 PM Re: Interview with Agony
Jakeroo Offline

Registered: Sat Aug 30 2008
Posts: 2064
Loc: Alberta Canada
Loved the interview. And yes I think Agony is a great editor too! I also think it's amazing that all the people (especially editors!) interviewed so far have been so willing to speak about things that are quite personal. It's good that folks should be shown that editors are HUMAN (not horrid meanies bent on ruining your life LOL) , but I still think you're all very brave nonetheless. Thanks : )
Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense
- Gertrude Stein

#594038 - Thu Feb 10 2011 02:05 PM Re: Interview with Agony
JaneMarple Offline
Star Poster

Registered: Fri Jan 30 2004
Posts: 14484
Loc: North West of England
A really interesting interview! I find Agony to be a very fair editor! smile
My mind is like a functions only when open.

#594086 - Thu Feb 10 2011 04:27 PM Re: Interview with Agony
LeoDaVinci Offline

Registered: Fri Mar 23 2001
Posts: 12140
Loc: Ontario Canada
agony was my very first constant editor. She's one of the main reasons (if not THE main reason) I got so into writing "LOTR" quizzes. From there, the path to writing more quizzes was easy to walk.
"La divina podestate, la somma sapienza e 'l primo amore."
Editor/Moderator/Awesome Guy

#594633 - Sat Feb 12 2011 10:41 AM Re: Interview with Agony
agony Offline


Registered: Sat Mar 29 2003
Posts: 15932
Loc: Western Canada
Aw, shucks, guys (blushing) Thanks.

This has been such fun - any other interviews I've done have been a little unpleasant (for jobs, mostly). One seldom gets the opportunity to blather on about oneself, and it was very enjoyable. Thanks so much to everyone involved.

#595626 - Tue Feb 15 2011 07:20 AM Re: Interview with Agony
Ballykissangel Offline

Registered: Fri Jul 12 2002
Posts: 4643
Loc: Halifax Nova Scotia Canada    
What a pleasure it was stepping into the life of 'Agony' for a moment. P.S. If you do make that cross Canada trip come look me up in Nova Scotia. It would be a thrill! smile

Edited by Ballykissangel (Tue Feb 15 2011 07:21 AM)


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