About Words Indeed

by John Parry

My ideal as a publisher is to take a manuscript I love, copyedit it carefully and thoroughly, and work with gifted professionals to create a beautiful book. Since launching Words Indeed in 2010, I have been fortunate in obtaining the services of very talented people for our small, select list of (so far) memoirs and poetry.

I fell into editing, and later into publishing, by chance. After I returned in 1978 from postgraduate studies in London, England, historian and editor Robert Fraser pointed me to University of Toronto Press (UTP). I worked as a copyeditor there with extraordinary, highly collegial editors and with gifted masters of book production. Beginning in 1986, I worked as a freelance editor for scholarly publishers, government, and individual authors.

I set up Words Indeed to publish Mary Willan Mason's charming, award-winning memoir about Toronto in the 1920s and 1930s: The Well-Tempered Listener: Growing Up with Musical Parents. At the launch of Mary's memoir, I met poet and sculptor Ann Elizabeth Carson. Five months later, we celebrated The Risks of Remembrance, a volume of her poetry, with illustrations by Jane Champagne, Jane Burns, and the author.

In early 2011, retired CBC radio newscaster Judy Maddren informed me about a remarkable manuscript. Jennifer Fazakerley had recently lost her husband, Rob, a physiotherapist, to metastatic cancer of the pancreas. Jen and fellow care-givers Grace Bradish and Helen Butlin-Battler prepared Just Stay ... A Couple's Last Journey Together from their e-mails to each other during his final illness, adding narrative and commentary. Designer and photographer Anne Vellone of vellonedesign.com designed and typeset the book, and Val Cooke prepared the cover.

Between 2010 and 2013, colleague Joyce Sowby, archivist and researcher Harold Averill, and I fine-tuned Nancy Williams and Marie Scott-Baron’s collection, Recollections of a Neighbourhood: Huron-Sussex from UTS to Stop Spadina. Designer Anne Vellone brought it all to vivid life with inspired design, superb typesetting, and 150 of her photos of the beautiful Victorian district, as well as 70 archival images. In New York to accept an Independent Publisher Book Award, Anne heard people express disbelief about the stunning Victorian neighbourhood in the heart of a huge city. Heritage Toronto nominated Recollections for one of its prestigious book awards.

In Tony van Straubenzee’s engaging and humorous Rind in the Marmalade: A Headhunter’s Tales (2016), Anne Vellone gradually developed her vision for the book as she worked on it. She received many images from Tony and his wife, Mary; from David Junop, who took photos for Tony at the Empire and York clubs; from contemporary photographers; and from archival sources. To complement Tony’s vivid portrayal of business and social life in downtown Toronto, Anne took several dozen pictures herself.

Tony’s gift of a copy of Rind in the Marmalade encouraged Nora Lever to get out her diaries from Riyadh (1989—93), where husband Allan was Canadian ambassador and she was on leave from a senior position in Parliament. In the stunning Canadian embassy in Riyadh’s dazzling new Diplomatic Quarter, the superb household and diplomatic staff aided Nora and Allan in representing Canada to Saudi Arabia and to ambassadors (and their families) from all over the world. In the leadup to and during the six-week Gulf War in early 1991, they created an oasis for visiting officials and shuttling diplomats and a nerve centre for Canadian expatriates.

Nora supported women seeking to drive in this rigidly segregated country and taught English as a foreign language to courageous young businesswomen. Even the haunting muezzin’s call of the faithful to prayer permeated her soul. Whether she was visiting a palace or a one-room flat, a cup of coffee – the traditional Bedouin gesture of welcome – greeted her. Her and Allan’s Arabian travels inspired designer Anne Vellone to capture visually one of the most starkly beautiful parts of the world, so that Nora’s evocative words and the stunning images re-create her and Allan’s heady adventure in Diplomacy and Friendship: Ambassador’s Wife in Gulf War Riyadh.

At Words Indeed, we’ve had great support. David Korinetz at Red Tuque Books in Penticton, BC, has distributed all our titles. Chris Galloway and his staff at Book City, Yonge and St Clair, in Toronto, have sold many scores of our books, as have James Bell at University of Toronto Bookstore and Ben McNally in his beautiful bookstore on Bay Street. Justin Da Silva (koncepp.com) has put and kept us online. Brian Metcalfe, Luis Varesis, and Legge & Legge have provided crucial counsel. Mike Haddad has conveyed our books and us to many events. To them all, many, many thanks!