Clem Flanagan, Freelance Editor and Proofreader

We speak to Clem about her favourite fantasy reads and working with indie authors.

Clem Flanagan

I'm Clem, a Belgian-British lover of cats and books. I live in Scotland and I work as a freelance editor and proofreader.

How did you get into the publishing industry?

I was studying my final year of English Literature and Creative Writing when I took a class on editing and realised that was an actual job. Strange as it sounds, I had never considered that there were people out there editing and publishing books! I didn't know anyone who worked in that industry (my mum was a secretary and my dad was a salesman in garden machinery), so I researched the field, completed a Master's in Publishing Studies and decided that editorial was my strong suit. I worked at Thomson Reuters first (quite dry, to be honest) then moved to London and worked as an assistant editor for a wellbeing publisher.

Has your attitude to reading changed since working in the publishing industry? How has it changed your reading taste or the genre of books you usually read?

I'm exposed to more books than ever, which is a massive problem because they all sound brilliant and I want to read everything. My eyes hate me. I need thicker glasses every year.

I'm a fantasy geek at heart, though. Harry Potter ignited my passion for magical stories when I was seven years old, and I haven't wanted to leave that world since then.


Is there a project or book that you have worked on that you are particularly proud of?

I'm so lucky to work with a bunch of extremely talented indie authors. Some of my favourite recent projects include Mountain Song: A Journey to Finding Quiet in the French Alps by Lucy Fuggle, a beautiful exploration of life in the mountains and rooting down into the essence of who we are, and Tales of Undersea: Traitor's Revenge, a fast-paced YA adventure full of pirates, vikings, monsters, treasure quests, love and betrayal.


Where do you buy or access your books?

I buy from hive.co.uk, which donates a portion of sales to an indie book shop of your choice, though I should really start placing orders directly with indies. If I can't find a book on Hive, I buy from Waterstones.

What books have you been reading in lockdown? Do these books typify your usual reading taste, or have you found yourself reading other genres and authors?

New books I discovered and loved include The Winternight Trilogy by Katherine Arden. I read this in the summer but I was transported to a magical world of Russian folklore that I didn't want to leave. I also adored Maggie O'Farrell's Hamnet for its beautiful and lyrical prose.

When I'm anxious (and it's been a year full of anxiety), I turn to old favourites, both for books, TV shows and films. I re-read my favourite childhood series, La Quête d'Ewilan and Les Mondes d'Ewilan by Pierre Bottero, which was sadly never translated into English but is a magical world to find comfort in. I also started re-reading The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan, even though I just finished it a year ago, but as soon as you get to the end you want to go back and pick up on all the small details you missed.

What is your most beautiful book?

The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert, but it's at my in-laws' house! I will refer once again to Pierre Bottero's books -- it's rare to see such intricate artwork made of watercolour paint.

What surprises you about your bookshelves? Is there a book that you were surprised to love as much as you did?

I started working on crime fiction last summer and finally understood why people turn to mysteries and thrillers for their summer reading material. I edited Haunted Magpie in the Isabel Flores Mallorcan Mystery series by Anna Nicholas and was transported to a small town in Mallorca plagued by mysterious disappearances -- I was hooked. I will devour anything this author writes now.

Clem's colourful bookshelves

What are your most anticipated reads for 2021?

I'm always behind on the trends. I'm looking forward to starting Holly Black's The Cruel Prince because I've heard good things about it, and Samantha Shannon has been teasing a new epic fantasy book -- after The Priory of the Orange Tree, I'm desperate for more from her. (Yes, I know I should read The Bone Season.)

What are your ultimate book recommendations?

The Wheel of Time is a serious commitment (14 books, all 800 pages minimum), but there's going to be an Amazon Prime adaptation and you just. have. to. read them.

And if you love folklore as much as I do, Circe will transport you to a boat drifting on the Aegean Sea -- though right now, the weather might incline you to travel to the snowy depths of Russia in The Bear and the Nightingale.

Madeline Miller's 'Circe'

Where can readers find you online?

On Twitter and my Website (still under construction, you've been warned!).