City author’s book lands high honours for editor

Acclaimed local author Kimmy Beach has seen her latest book, The Last Temptation of Bond, land a prestigious award for the book’s editor.

The Editors’ Association of Canada recently announced that Peter Midgley of Edmonton is the winner of the 30th annual Tom Fairley Award for Editorial Excellence.

Midgley was awarded the $2,000 prize for his work on The Last Temptation of Bond, which was published by the University of Alberta Press.

The award was presented at EAC’s annual awards banquet, which took place last month in Toronto. Midgley was unable to attend the awards ceremony, but was flattered and humbled by the honour.

“If you read Kimmy Beach’s nomination letter, you might believe that I am some modern-day Rumpelstiltskin who spins straw into gold,” he said in his acceptance speech. “I am an illusionist. The real magician is Kimmy Beach. I am simply the lucky one who gets to peddle her magic as my own.

“It feels glorious to be a magician for a second. Thank you.”

The Last Temptation of Bond blends the glamorous fantasy of James Bond with the acerbic speculation of Nikos Kazantzakis’s The Last Temptation of Christ in narrative poetry. Midgley received high praise from the judges for his ability to handle such a unique and multi-faceted project so skillfully.

As one judge stated, “Not just any editor could have taken on this project.”

The Last Temptation of Bond, is a dramatic, extraordinary and bold spin into the shimmering, sexy yet broken and somehow empty world of the literary hero, and to say it’s a page-turner is a blatant understatement. As with her past books, Beach has a way of creating text that crackles at virtually every turn. It’s poignant, shocking, disturbing, witty and bizarre – every page wields a different mood, a remarkably different ‘feel’.

For Beach, she said she feels immensely proud and unbelievably fortunate about Midgley landing the honour.

“Great editing is like great stage management – invisible. The nomination process is long and complex and we both spent several weeks putting it together,” she said.

“I’m technically the nominator, but we did equal work on the submission. In some ways, this feels like my award too, though this is undeniably Peter’s moment. He deserves this recognition, particularly as he’s been nominated for this award twice before, but this is the first time he’s won.”

Beach said that Midgley was familiar with her previous work, and, “He didn’t dismiss me based on the fact that I write about pop culture.

“He works for a scholarly press, and when he initially asked for the manuscript of Bond, I told him I thought it was probably too pop-camp for The University of Alberta Press. He disagreed, and said that I was working within a modernist tradition that added to the pop culture elements of James Bond.

“Peter’s vast knowledge of world literature (and particularly the European and South African modernist and contemporary authors whose books he gave me by the armful to read) and years of editing expertise made him the perfect editor for both me and the book. I knew several authors who had worked with him and who had nothing but praise and respect for him.

“I don’t think we ever verbally agreed that he would edit me. It was simply understood from the start. We worked together for years on this book, and for that reason, it felt like a true collaboration.

“It’s the most productive and authentic author/editor work I’ve done with anyone. I have friends with horror stories of editors they’d never met either butchering or dismissing their work within a matter of days. I didn’t find Peter. He found me, and I’m eternally grateful.”

She has a tremendous skill at drawing readers into whatever world she is creating – we see the characters, we hear them and our senses are starkly aware of their surroundings.

Her past titles, Nice Day for Murder: poems for James Cagney, Alarum Within: theatre poems, fake Paul and in Cars all resonate with those same attributes.