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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Copyedits, caffeine, and cephalopods [Q&A]

From time to time, we try to give you a glimpse into our offices around the globe. We sat down with Production Editor Matthew Marusak to talk us through the book production process, his favourite word, and what a day in the life is like for an OUP employee in Cary, North Carolina.

When did you start working at OUP?

I started in May 2011 as a temp but was hired full-time shortly thereafter.

What is your typical day like at OUP? 

I am responsible for coordinating the production process—from copyediting to printing—on fifteen very different journals with very different needs. I am the main point of contact for my suppliers, editors, and authors, so there is a great deal of e-mail exchange and occasional phone calls. I also do a good deal of training—both formal and impromptu—with my colleagues, particularly new starters. A meeting-free day is a blessing!

What is the strangest thing currently on or in your desk?

A fellow cephalopod-adoring colleague lent me the book The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness. I should probably think about reading or returning it at this point. I also have an unopened bottle of Pibb Xtra that I’m saving for an emergency pick-me-up.

matthew_marusak
Matthew Marusak. Used with permission from author.

What’s the first thing you do when you get to work in the morning?

I turn on my computer and get all my systems up and running before diving into the sea of e-mails.

What’s your favourite book?

I became obsessed with Virginia Woolf after seeing the film The Hours. It is difficult to choose a favorite between Mrs. Dalloway and To the Lighthouse, though I think the former has a slight edge. The NSFW choice is Crash by J. G. Ballard.

What is the most exciting project you have been part of while working at OUP?

It is difficult to pinpoint one thing. Every day presents new challenges and new opportunities for growth and development. I recently gave a presentation at Oxford Journals Day, which was exciting and terrifying in equal measure. It’s the one time a year I get to be an extrovert—don’t get any ideas!

What is your favourite word?

Lavish

What’s the most enjoyable part of your day?

Arriving home after a long day and frolicking with my preposterous feline companions (Elvis and Leo) before collapsing on the sofa to watch a film or some cooking competition show I’ve recorded.

If you were stranded on a desert island, what three items would you take with you?

Why would I choose to be stranded on a desert island? And, if I did, why would I take only three things? It seems like a gross miscalculation. And how long am I planning to be stranded? A day? Two days? I seriously doubt I’d survive longer than a week. That being said, I would need, at the very least, a case of good Pinot Noir, my autographed copy of Liz Phair’s Exile in Guyville (and pray there’s a working CD player somewhere on this island), and a bottle of Chanel N°5—because why not go out in style?

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve found about working at OUP?

I don’t know if “surprising” is the right word, but I’m consistently amazed by our dedicated and hard-working staff. People seem legitimately passionate about the work they do, which I think is increasingly hard to find these days. In my five years at OUP, I have worked with so many intelligent, caring, and committed people who are all working toward the same goal. We greet challenges and difficulties with grace and dignity, and we support one another in ways I have never experienced in any other company.

Featured Image Credit: book publishing hobbies by Patrick Tomasso. Public domain via Unsplash.

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