From bookshop worker to published editor, Suzy is living her dream
For Suzy Garcia, reading literary pieces hasn’t just been a way of escaping lockdown boredom: she is now an accomplished contributing editor of a published book.
The 33-year-old, who has worked at Southbank’s Mary Martin Bookshop for the past 12 years, landed a dream job at the start of this year as the deputy editor of Kill Your Darlings (KYD), an independent Australian online literary magazine.
Working alongside the magazine’s publishing director and CEO Rebecca Starford, Ms Garcia helped edit a collection of new short fiction and features by some of Australia’s most talented writers as well as some exciting new voices, which were published in a book called New Australian Fiction 2021.
The book is the third annual collection of short fiction and it landed on the shelves of bookshops on September 1.
Sixteen writers featured in the anthology after being selected from 500 pieces that were submitted in the magazine’s national callout.
Ms Garcia, a student of the Associate Degree in Professional Writing and Editing at RMIT University, said editing the anthology was an “exciting” experience.
“I read hundreds of stories this year,” she said of the contributions.
“I think they’re all pretty amazing and even in quality.”
“One story which is like a bit of fun, and also interesting in the current context, is about a world where people just spontaneously combust and they just randomly turn into flames.”
“That one’s a bit of fun and an interesting one to read during a pandemic.”
Ms Garcia said she had been writing a little on the side but admitted she was “really interested in reading and publishing”, and was “in awe” of the writers who had shown resilience during the pandemic.
Speaking of her part-time role at KYD she said, “I’m really excited … I’m getting a lot of hands-on experience. I’m doing things I wouldn’t have thought I’d be doing like commissioning articles and working with writers”.
Before starting at the magazine, Ms Garcia interned at Ubud Writers and Readers Festival and Emerging Writers’ Festival.
In 2020, she was shortlisted for the ABA Penguin Random House Australia Young Bookseller of the Year Award for her work at Mary Martin Bookshops.
She has also been accepted to begin a Master of Creative Writing, Publishing and Editing at the University of Melbourne.
But she still makes time to read novels and was immersed in a book called In Moonland by Melbourne-based author Miles Allinson, which she said was “so far, so good”.
In Moonland has also been chosen for the month of September in the Melbourne City Reads initiative which aims to give inner-city bookshops a boost in sales.
Asked if beating pandemic blues came easy given her love of reading and editing, Ms Garcia laughed, saying “I’m definitely not going to say it’s been amazing”.
“I miss being able to see my friends and talk about what we’re reading in person and having writing workshops and things like that [as well as] writers’ events and bookshop events.”
“The only silver lining is that I could read more books.” •