Meet Autumn’s editor and designer

Post by Adriana Alvarez.

I don’t know if you’ve heard but this year we’ve decided to hand the ball over to our talented community and let them have a go at steering the hillscene ship. We put a call out for editors and designers who would be interested in putting the hillscene together and gaining some experience working in publishing.

Local editor Anna James is our first guest editor and designer for the hillscene. She has worked on the hillscene in previous issues, helping to refine and polish our articles and doing such a great job it was a no brainer to invite her to be the guest editor for the Autumn issue. She has lived in the Hills for over a decade.

Her love of writing began as a child, and developed more technically throughout her education culminating in a Master of Publishing and Communication from the University of Melbourne. We asked her a few questions about herself, the hillscene and why she loves living in the hills.


What do you wish you knew about being an editor before you got started?

 I wish I knew that writing is about so much more than the rules.

A good writer doesn’t have to be a perfect grammarian, or even a good one. I have known authors to use their editor as a word processor – sending through pages of text without a second look at what they’ve written. This way of working allows for the author’s strengths to shine, and while I can’t help but pity that editor, it’s a great example of how editors can work with writing – not always correcting or restricting, but shaping and polishing.

From an editor’s perspective, there are two elements that make writing worth reading: an interesting subject and a passionate author. Hillscene magazine exists for this reason – there is a lot going on in the Hills, and a lot to be passionate about. 

What do you enjoy about living in the Dandenong Ranges?

My family moved to Australia when I was six years old. We continued to shift houses every few years after that, sampling the surrounding suburbs of Melbourne for much of my childhood until we settled into Belgrave. I formed a special relationship with the Hills; travelling to the city for school meant that the Hills became a special haven for me, and I still find relief as I retreat back here after a long day.

I love being surrounded by green; I love watching the family of King Parrots who live in the gumtree outside my bedroom window; and I love the people and culture unique to this place. The Hills are home to me.

How did you become involved with the hillscene?

When I decided to volunteer for Burrinja, I was welcomed warmly as part of the team. With so many talented people orbiting Burrinja, there are always a handful of fascinating projects bubbling under the surface. It was only a matter of time before I discovered something special like Hillscene where I could apply my editorial skills.

While representing any community completely is an immense challenge, I found that Hillscene managed to celebrate the core of what makes this place so special. There is a sense of discovery to the magazine that is uncannily similar to walking around the Hills and finding a new artist, a new café or a new hiking trail.

Being a part of Hillscene is also a process of discovery. For me, at least, editorial meetings are an experience of surprise and delight as we discuss potential articles – there are always events, projects and people I haven’t heard of, always something new to get excited about.

What is an editor’s perspective of this era of fake news and alternative facts?

There has always been a lot of fear about the future of publishing. The running joke from publishers would have it that the Gutenberg press itself was seen as the death of the industry. A more recent doomsday prediction was thwarted when people began to realise that eBooks and online publishing have opened doors to new authors – not closed them for publishers.

The era of fake news and alternative facts presents a different kind of threat. News reportage now moves at ridiculous speeds, and every so often a manipulative or malicious article will slip by unnoticed, taken as the truth. It’s hard enough to keep up with the news without fact checking your sources as well.

This shadowy side of publishing poses a huge threat to us as readers, and it’s a sad time for those of us working in the industry. In a time of such doubt, it’s refreshing to work with a community-focused publication like Hillscene. We need to focus back on the local perspective once in a while – taking the time to celebrate what’s good in your community is incredibly important.

What are your plans for the future (immediate or long term)?

My experiences at university have taught me that there is always more you can learn. Language conventions and writing are always changing and developing as time moves forward, and it is integral for an editor to be flexible and adaptable. I think this is well applied to the rest of life too.

I am just now moving into my career, and in doing so I plan to continue to learn, grow and discover

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