An editing Maestro Anna Rogers
Anna Rogers, recently made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to literature, chats to Metropol deputy editor Daniella Judge about her experiences in the New Zealand literary world.
In the world of literature, where words dance on the page and stories come alive, there exists a behind the scenes role, that of the editor. Anna Rogers, who has been editing for 45 years, has enhanced countless books, both fiction and non-fiction, crafted by some of New Zealand’s finest authors.
Anna’s career began early in life, as her father, a journalist and then publisher, and her mother, instilled in her a love of reading
This passion led her to study English at the University of Canterbury. Dedication and eye for detail soon earned her a reputation in the publishing industry, and she was entrusted with works from renowned authors such as Owen Marshall, and Dame Fiona Kidman. Her love for history has also found expression in editing many titles in this area.
Her professional journey has taken her down diverse paths, such as sub-editing for the New Zealand Listener, and editing the book trade magazine Booksellers News for nine years. She also helped establish the New Zealand Association of Manuscript Assessors, as part of her commitment to aspiring writers. Anna’s literary skills extend beyond editing.
She has written several books, including illustrated histories of the West Coast and Canterbury, and While You’re Away: New Zealand Nurses at War 1899–1948. “There is so much to be told,” she explains. With Them Through Hell: New Zealand Medical Services in the First World War was shortlisted for the Ockham Book Awards in 2019.
She has also taken her literary expertise to the airwaves, adapting several books for Radio New Zealand, writing book reviews, and for many years was on the board of Christchurch’s Writers’ Festival, WORD. For the Hagley Writers’ Institute, Anna has assessed end-of-year portfolios and imparted wisdom through talks and workshops.
She has also mentored budding writers and editors. For Anna, editing is not just a profession. With each manuscript she delves into, she uncovers new facets of history and culture, finding joy in unique challenges.
“When editing you are working in the best interest of the writer, the publisher, and the reader,” she says, adding that she cherishes the relationships she has built with authors and publishing houses over the years. Anna’s advice to all involved, is to, “just keep working at it [writing]. It’s a discipline”.
She encourages growing talents to join writing groups, attend literary festivals and above all, to read. All of these experiences can offer support and camaraderie.
In the WORD Festival earlier this year, Anna conducted a workshop titled Behind the Red Pen – How Editing Works, where she shared her wisdom with aspiring writers and editors alike.