See below for links to some of my writing online.
ALLYSON LATTA is a Toronto-based literary editor of adult and young-adult fiction and creative nonfiction. For more than 20 years she has worked in various editorial capacities with some of Canada’s most respected writers on bestsellers and books earning major awards, including the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and Scotiabank Giller Prize.
Allyson earned degrees in criminology and journalism. Her journalism thesis, later published, was on justice for victims of crime. She has been a legal research assistant, proofreader of law reports (Carswell), newspaper reporter, magazine associate editor and features writer, and communications coordinator for both Queen’s University and University of Toronto. While living in Japan for three years, she taught college-level ESL and wrote about Japanese culture for newspapers in Canada. For many years she has also edited for the University of the West Indies Press in Jamaica.
From 2004 to 2017 Allyson taught creative writing, specializing in memoir, for continuing studies programs at Ryerson University and later University of Toronto. She continues to be an adviser at U of T, working one-on-one with students completing their final project requirement for the Certificate in Creative Writing. Last year one of her students won the Marina Nemat Award for her manuscript; the resulting memoir will be published in October. Allyson has led writing and editing workshops in Mexico, Chile, and England, and for the past decade has organized biannual residential writers’ retreats in Canada and abroad. Upcoming retreats will take place in Newfoundland (Fall 2019) and B.C. (Spring 2020).
Currently her focus is assisting writers and agents with structural assessments and edits of fiction and memoir manuscripts, and helping writers develop queries or proposals. Three of her author clients have books forthcoming in 2019 and 2020.
Born in Edmonton, Alberta, Allyson Latta moved with her family to Kingston, Ontario, at age ten. She remembers the move being one of the more disappointing experiences of her young life because she didn’t realize until fairly late in the process that there was a Kingston in Ontario as well as one in Jamaica. She also didn’t know that Harry Belafonte, who left “a little girl in Kingston town,” wasn’t from Jamaica, which was another great clunking disappointment, but at least she didn’t move to Jamaica before finding out. There were many things back then that she didn’t know.
But those are not the subject of her writing workshops.
Or perhaps in a way they are.
Allyson has more than 25 years’ experience in writing and editing, and has spent many of those editing fiction and creative nonfiction for major publishers including HarperCollins, Random House, and House of Anansi. Allyson truly wishes she could say that her job experiences included such adventures as picking watermelons and cotton in Israel; building a jail in northern Manitoba; washing feathers in a bedding factory; digging ditches in a cemetery (not graves, just ditches); cleaning garbage trucks (that is, being a garbage man’s garbage man); and practising civil litigation. In fact that describes her husband — who really should write his memoir, don’t you think?
Allyson grew up in a book-filled home with a mother who could devour several novels in a week, but what launched her career trajectory was that when she was twelve, a teacher she didn’t even like tricked her into joining the Library Club and shelving books in her spare time. That same teacher roped her into a Poetry Club that turned her off poetry for several decades — but that’s another story. Library Club led to a part-time job at the local public library, where she quickly determined there had to be more interesting jobs out there to do with books than placing them in the right spot on a shelf. And she was right.
Allyson has since earned degrees in criminology and journalism, written and edited for both newspapers and magazines, been a freelance writer, taught college-level ESL in Japan, held positions in national association and university communications, edited award-winning books, and taught both editing and writing. She has a boundless sense of wonder about the nuances of human memory and the possibilities of memoir writing. Memoirists whose work she’s edited on include Lawrence Hill, Ian Brown, Helen Humphreys, Sharon Butala, Merilyn Simonds, and Kristen den Hartog.
Though she never did make it to Jamaica, Allyson edits books for the University of the West Indies Press in Kingston.
She eventually came this close to meeting Harry Belafonte in person, while he was strolling down Sparks Street in Ottawa.
My Writing (Misc.)
(MORE TO BE ADDED)
Dutch Boys and Fast Boats (Blog of Green Gables)
My Earthquake Experience (Facts & Arguments, The Globe and Mail)
The Best Memoirs Don’t Preach (Tools and Tactics for Writers)