About Words Indeed

by John Parry

Chance, it seems, led me into editing, and later into publishing. After I returned to Toronto in 1978 from postgraduate studies in London, England, historian and editor Robert Fraser pointed me towards University of Toronto Press (UTP). There I worked as a copyeditor with extraordinary, highly collegial editors and with gifted masters of book production. In 1986, I became a freelancer, editing manuscripts for scholarly publishers, government, and individual authors.

Words Indeed Publishing emerged when I decided to take on Mary Willan Mason's charming memoir set in Toronto in the 1920s and 1930s, which became The Well-Tempered Listener: Growing Up with Musical Parents. At the book’s launch, I met poet and sculptor Ann Elizabeth Carson, and five months later we celebrated The Risks of Remembrance.

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

Between 2010 and 2013, Joyce Sowby, Harold Averill, and I fine-tuned Nancy Williams and Marie Scott-Baron’s edited collection – 26 years in the making – Recollections of a Neighbourhood: Huron- Sussex from UTS to Stop Spadina. Anne Vellone brought it all to vivid life with inspired design, superb typesetting, and 150 photos she took herself and 70 archival images.

I met Tony van Straubenzee through Tim Elliott, his former rector. One summer’s day at the old Coffee Mill in Yorkville, Tony blew me away with his wonderful stories – I said he must write them down. After 4½ years of silence, he called me with a completed manuscript. During production Anne Vellone gradually developed her vision for what was in effect a memoir. She coaxed many images from Tony and his wife, Mary, and from David Junop and other contemporary photographers, and took several dozen herself to evoke Toronto architecture in Rind in the Marmalade: A Headhunter’s Tales (2016).

Tony’s tales encouraged neighbour Nora Lever to get out her diaries, which became Diplomacy and Friendship: Ambassador’s Wife in Gulf War Riyadh. From Canada’s modern embassy, Nora observed and interacted with the complex society around her -- she supported female would-be drivers and taught ESL to daring young businesswomen. When bombs struck during the Gulf War, she felt like the fictional wartime title character in Mrs. Miniver. We were able to include work by Canadian war artist Ted Zuber. Nora and Allan’s Arabian travels inspired Anne Vellone to capture visually this region’s stark beauty.

Unexpectedly, in winter 2018, my McMaster classmate and close friend John Randle e-mailed me from England his stories about his lively landladies in the 1970s. I loved the manuscript, as did Anne Vellone, and decided to publish it. Then it occurred to me to ask close friend and classmate Laurie Dennett if we might prepare a new edition of her Camino classic, A Hug for the Apostle: On Foot from Chartres to Santiago de Compostela (1987) – she had suggested it a few years earlier. Anne Vellone thought it would be a splendid project, and a lovely complement to John’s.

John Randle sent us his sketches and watercolours of his landladies’ cities: Venice (Anne’s favourite place on earth), Hamilton, Ontario, Cambridge, London and Tokyo. Anne’s ‘photo radar’ led her to additional, telling images from all five cities. Laurie Dennett’s book called out for glorious visuals – the Camino through France and Spain is one of the great treasure routes of the world. Dividing her two-part diary-style account into chapters allowed for more illustrations, and Paul McCusker let us use his evocative line drawings from the original text. As well, Anne’s chancing on the beautiful St James’ Episcopal Church on New York’s Madison Avenue inspired a photo essay on places and images of St James from around the world.

At Words Indeed, we’ve had great support. Anne Vellone brings boundless energy and inspiration, dazzling creativity, meticulous attention to detail, and decades of experience to each project. Dimas De Campos and his painstaking crew at Andora Graphics Inc. provide superlative printing services. Steve McClinton at Mohawk Paper, Canada, and Chris Whitern of Ariva Paper ensure the finest possible paper. Justin Da Silva (koncepp.com) implements our web presence with flair and dedication. To all our supporters – including, of course, our gentle readers – many, many thanks!