Meet the Winner of Best New Magazine Writer: Catherine McIntyre

This post has been updated. 

At the 37th annual National Magazine Awards on June 6, 2014, the special award for Canada’s Best New Magazine Writer, sponsored by the Readers’s Digest Foundation, was presented to Catherine McIntyre, author of “Clusterf*ck” (THIS Magazine). We chatted with Catherine about her story and her perspective on writing for Canadian magazines.

NMAF: What is something about yourself that others would be surprised to know?

Catherine: Most of my jobs in the past have been physically labour intensive. I was essentially reared in a vineyard where I built up a tolerance for hard physical work (and a palate for wine). During my months off in university, I planted trees in BC and Alberta and I spent another summer farming in France. Working those jobs meant I spent a lot of time alone. Farm work and especially tree planting can be very solitary; they offer copious time and space, which for me is important for nurturing story ideas.

NMAF: When it came to writing your piece, did you have any sources of inspiration?

Catherine: Curiosity and a bit of fear originally drove me to this story. Growing up around farm country in Nova Scotia, I was exposed to lots of chemicals. I had no idea what kind of harm this exposure was causing long-term, so I started digging for disease rates in Nova Scotian farming communities. I came across Inka Milewski’s study on disease patterns throughout New Brunswick. She found that rates of certain cancers were high depending on the community in question, and she had evidence linking specific types of cancer to specific industries.

This sounded like a huge breakthrough to me: if we know what’s causing cancer, we can change our behaviours and prevent the disease. But no one was talking about this—not the local media, not community mayors—and I quickly realized why that was: drawing attention to Milewski’s findings would worry the public and may even encourage people to petition for change. But the kind of changes necessary to deal with the high rates of cancer would require a total overhaul of New Brunswick’s industries and economy. That’s why the province was ignoring Milewkski and that’s why I had to tell this story. Muzzling scientists like this really irks me. I don’t think people should be kept in the dark, especially when it comes to their health.

NMAF: What are your career goals?

Catherine: At this stage in my career I feel like I have to be flexible, which is the self-assuring way of saying “I’ll take what I can get.” Ultimately, I just want to tell good stories. I want to write feature articles and when the right idea comes around, I’d love to write a book. This is a tough industry, though, and I realize you have to pay your dues before landing a full-time feature writing gig that sustains your lifestyle. For that reason I often flit back and forth between pursuing writing and becoming a farmer and wine-maker. But for now, my sights are set on writing and getting published as much as possible. The business side of magazines has always appealed to me as well, and in the fall, I plan on going back to school to dabble in magazine and web publishing.

NMAF: How did you feel about being an NMA nominee?

Catherine: I was not expecting an NMA nomination. I was obviously thrilled to be nominated, but part of me felt like an imposter. I was fresh out of university when I wrote the article and it was the first feature story I’d ever published. An NMA had not crossed my mind—not for this one. Am I even qualified? The nomination was certainly encouraging though. I’m new to this magazine thing and it’s sometimes difficult to imagine how I’ll ever make a living at it. Being recognized for my work was a reminder that maybe I shouldn’t abandon writing just yet.  

NMAF: What advice do you have for up-and-coming magazine writers?

Catherine: Write all the time. Even if you don’t have an idea worth publishing, write for yourself every day. Take any event with some sort of conflict and give it a beginning, middle, and end. Develop a character, sketch some scenes, and there—you’ve got a story. It’s good practice and you’ll start seeing there are stories everywhere. When you get an idea you think is interesting or important, dive into it. Research, make calls, and then pitch your story to a magazine, because if you don’t someone else will.    

This interview was edited for content. Special thanks to Nadya Domingo for conducting the interview.

You can read the full text of Catherine McIntyre’s winning story along with all of the National Magazine Awards nominees at magazine-award.com. Follow her on Twitter @CappyMc.

Here’s what this year’s NMA jury said about “Clusterf*ck”:

In Clusterf*ck, Catherine McIntyre dares to tackle a complex and underreported issue, digging into New Brunswick’s data on cancer clusters and correlating illness with areas of heavy industry. In every way a powerful feature—great sources, revealing scenes, vivid details—the work displays a principled grasp of the fundamentals of investigative reporting. Her piece, like the best journalism, has the potential to effect change.

See also:
Meet the other finalists for Best New Magazine Writer: Suzannah Showler | Liz Windhorst Harmer
More info on the award for Best New Magazine Writer

Meet the Nominees for Best New Magazine Writer: Liz Windhorst Harmer

The 37th annual National Magazine Awards are coming up on Friday June 6. One of the most special awards to be presented at the gala will be the honour of Canada’s Best New Magazine Writer, an award sponsored by the Readers’s Digest Foundation. This year there are 3 finalists, and recently we chatted with each of them to get to know the person behind the pen.

Our second nominee is Liz Windhorst Harmer, author of “Pain: A Brief History of My Intensity” (The New Quarterly).

NMAF: What is something about yourself that others would be surprised to know?

Liz: I’m always surprised by what surprises people about me. Sometimes people are surprised when they find out that I’ve been married for more than ten years. Another thing that seems to surprise people is that I like the pain of giving birth, which is something I explored in my nominated piece. I can also be very credulous—I believed in mermaids for too long, for example.

NMAF: When it came to writing your piece, did you have any sources of inspiration?

Liz: My piece explores different kinds of pain I have found myself seeking or choosing: CrossFit, childbirth, and fasting. I am inspired by the possibility for the transcendent in the everyday. The phrase “pain is weakness leaving the body” was the explicit catalyst for my essay.

NMAF: What are your career goals?

Liz: I’d like to write as much as possible, in as many ways as possible, as well as I can. I hope to be a published novelist and to continue to publish nonfiction.

NMAF: How did you feel about being an NMA nominee?

Liz: Overwhelmed with excitement. Also proud.

NMAF: What advice do you have to up-and-coming magazine writers?

Liz: Grace Paley’s advice to write what you don’t know about what you know is a good rule for writing nonfiction. Also: no idea is too small. Work hard on your craft—be greedy for good advice and good editing.

This interview was edited for content. Special thanks to Nadya Domingo for conducting the interview.

You can read the full text of Liz Windhorst Harmer’s nominated story along with all of the National Magazine Awards nominees at magazine-award.com. Follow her on Twitter @LizHarmer.

Here’s what this year’s NMA jury said about “Pain”:

In Pain, Liz Windhorst Harmer explores pushing her body to extremes of suffering—from intense exercise and natural childbirth to the passion of religious belief. In a starkly original voice, and with uncommon ferocity and grace, she opens herself up completely and compels the readers to return the favour. Covering a difficult and serious subject, she has crafted an essay unique in conception, construction and articulation.

We’ll find out who wins the award for Best New Magazine Writer at the 37th annual National Magazine Awards, Friday June 6. Tickets.

See also: 
Q&A with the creators of the finalists for best Magazine Cover
More info on the award for Best New Magazine Writer

Meet the Nominees for Best New Magazine Writer: Suzannah Showler

The 37th annual National Magazine Awards are coming up on Friday June 6. One of the most special awards to be presented at the gala will be the honour of Canada’s Best New Magazine Writer, an award sponsored by the Readers’s Digest Foundation. This year there are 3 finalists, and recently we chatted with each of them to get to know the person behind the pen.

Our first nominee is Suzannah Showler, author of “On the Trail of Ignored Beasts” (Maisonneuve).

NMAF: What is something about yourself that others would be surprised to know?

Suzannah: My brain can’t distinguish between the number 5 and a capital letter B. 5ut I’m working on it.

NMAF: When it came to writing your piece, did you have any sources of inspiration? 

Suzannah: I was mostly inspired by the topic itself. I find cryptozoology endlessly fascinating. While I was preparing to write the piece, I became increasingly inspired, too, by the particular cryptozoologists I met. These are people doing their best to apply scientific skepticism to an activity that’s fundamentally motivated by what could be called faith. There’s a fine line between intellectual flexibility and out-and-out madness, of course, and there were times writing this piece when I wasn’t sure which side of that line I was reporting from. But on the whole, I found it genuinely inspiring to meet people living their lives with such imagination, and perseverance, and hope.

NMAF: What are your career goals? 

Suzannah: I’ll probably never shake my poetry-writing habit, but I’d love to try my hand at writing something longer in prose. Whether I can actually make that happen and whether that prose would detail true or untrue things remain to be seen.

NMAF: How did you feel about being an NMA nominee?

Suzannah: Very thrilled, obviously!

NMAF: What advice do you have to up-and-coming magazine writers?

Suzannah: I’m more or less a crossover from the literary side, which is one way people land in long-form magazine writing, but it’s maybe not the most efficient route. I would never tell someone: go and write poetry, mostly, and kind of dabble in short nonfiction until someone lets you try something longer. My personal experience doesn’t lend itself to amazing advice.

This interview was edited for content. Special thanks to Nadya Domingo for conducting the interview.

You can read the full text of Suzannah Showler’s nominated story along with all of the National Magazine Awards nominees at magazine-award.com. Follow her on Twitter @ZanShow.

Here’s what this year’s NMA jury said about “On the Trail of Ignored Beasts”:

In On the Trail of Ignored Beasts, Suzannah Showler hunts creatures stranger than sasquatches: the cryptozoologists who love them. Her reporting is strong, empathetic and insightful; urging readers past the wacky subject matter to consider the deeper reasons some of us just need to believe. She presents her subjects respectfully and thoughtfully, and the result is a poetic work of narrative non-fiction.

We’ll find out who wins the award for Best New Magazine Writer at the 37th annual National Magazine Awards, Friday June 6. Tickets.

See also:
Q&A with the creators of the finalists for best Magazine Cover
More info on the award for Best New Magazine Writer

How Did They Create That Cover? Western Living

The finalists for the 37th annual National Magazine Awards have been announced — including ten nominations in the Magazine Covers category.

In a new blog series titled How Did They Create That Cover? the NMAF chats with the creative directors of the Magazine Covers finalists about how their covers were made. It’s a behind-the-scenes look at things we may or may not think about when we pick up a magazine and devour its pages.

Today we chat with Paul Roelofs, art director at Western Living and creator of this nominated cover:

NMAF: Was this cover always what the magazine had in mind to depict the story, or were there other ideas? 

Paul: Not at all what we had in mind. The September issue is a landmark issue for us each year and features a large editorial package called Designers of the Year. It is a competition that WL hosts in many design categories. The issue celebrates the winners and there are quite large awards events that accompany the issue in Vancouver and Calgary. And so for the one issue each year we have the opportunity to break the mould, so to speak, and create something more conceptual.

The challenge is to find iconography that somehow covers the diversity of the categories, from architecture and interior design to fashion and industrial design, etc. Other thoughts ranged from creating a room set with pantone chips as artwork on the walls. Also: a still-life photograph of all different tools used across the genres.

NMAF: Why was the colour palette chosen to depict the Designers of the Year?

Paul: The visual icon was a swatch pad, like a pantone swatch fan. We landed on this since it seemed general enough to work across multiple design genres. As for the colours, we were inspired by Paul Smith colour palettes and embarked on creating our own palette that seemed fresh, bold and timeless, and not seasonal.

NMAF: How many people were involved in the making of this particular cover, and what role did you play?

Paul: Our entire senior group has a voice in this cover. We take a very collaborative approach. I drive the creative and so lead the group in partnership with the editor in chief. Once we landed on the idea, I sketched it out and contracted a 3D rendering artist, Mike Cormack, to help bring the idea to life. I had worked with Mike in the past for rendering retail products that were still in production and needed to be brought to life before they existed yet. We explored having a swatch fan built by a printing house and then photographed and retouched, but with the 3D rendering technology being so sophisticated today, it became the obvious choice for execution.

NMAF: Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think I spot Helvetica! Any reason behind the iconic font choice?  

Paul: That, my friend, is Univers and one of the fonts that debuted in the redesign that launched that same month.

 

This interview was edited for content. Special thanks to Nadya Domingo for conducting the interview.

More ‘How Did They Create That Cover?’Fashion MagazineToronto Life, BC Business

Check out the finalists for best Magazine Cover on our Facebook page. Share your feedback with us on Twitter: @MagAwards | #NMA14 | #MagazineCovers.

The Gold and Silver winners will be revealed on June 6 at the National Magazine Awards gala. [TICKETS]

How Did They Create That Cover? BC Business

The finalists for the 37th annual National Magazine Awards have been announced — including ten nominations in the Magazine Covers category.

In a new blog series titled How Did They Create That Cover? the NMAF chats with the creative directors of the Magazine Covers finalists about how their covers were made. It’s a behind-the-scenes look at things we may or may not think about when we pick up a magazine and devour its pages.

Today we chat with Catherine Mullaly, art director at BC Business and co-creator of this nominated cover:

NMAF: Can you describe what the setting was like at the photo shoot for this cover?

Catherine: I was not at the photo shoot for this cover, but Ben Oliver, our associate art director, was there. This was a joint collaboration and we entered the National Magazine Awards as co-contributors. We did not have time to scout our location so Ben (along with photographer Paul Joseph) went with the plan of shooting for the story and keeping his eye out for a good cover opportunity. The setting is real – it’s the meat cooler in the butcher shop where our subject (owner and butcher Jason Pleym) butchers his locally grown beef.

NMAF: What was the editorial decision behind the font placement, particularly how the words “Getting Killed” are in bold?

Catherine: When we saw the image we knew immediately it would make a stunning cover. The raw meat is jarring and I love the intense eye contact of the butcher. The focus of the image was the butcher and the cutting board – it made sense to place the main cover line right below. We had to darken the image a bit below so the cover lines really popped. Bold image – bold cover line. Our editor at the time, Tom Gierasimczuck, came up with our compelling headline and together it made for a cover hard not to pick up.

NMAF: Can you explain the process of setting up the meat?

Catherine: Rather than set up and planned, it is a true environmental photograph. The story was about small independent food distributors and this fellow, a local beef producer and butcher, was busy at work when they arrived. The table was laid out with these beautiful (if you’re not a vegetarian) fresh cuts of meat and as soon as Ben walked in he saw an opportunity for a shoot that would be a stunning cover. They did a quick light setup while the butcher was at work.

 NMAF: There are many different kinds of local food producers. Why did the magazine choose someone in the meat industry?

Catherine: This local meat producer (and butcher) was the lead of our cover story – it made sense to choose him for the cover. Most often we spend so much time planning and executing our covers and so many times there are a lot of challenges along the way. When we saw the results from this shoot we put any cover plans on hold and ran with this beautiful ‘real’ and for the most part unplanned cover image.

NMAF: The colours on the cover are interesting, particularly how the man’s outfit contrasts the red meat. Was this intentional?

Catherine: I love the simplicity of the colours in this cover, the rest of the photo is pretty neutral. The meat is red, his apron was blue – perfect. Together the two primary colours look great together. Whenever I have an opportunity to have primary colours on the cover I do. I actually added a little pop of yellow in the ‘button’ so we have all three primary colours.

 

This interview was edited for content. Special thanks to Nadya Domingo for conducting the interview.

More ‘How Did They Create That Cover?’: Fashion Magazine, Toronto Life

Check out the finalists for best Magazine Cover on our Facebook page. Share your feedback with us on Twitter: @MagAwards | #NMA14 | #MagazineCovers.

The Gold and Silver winners will be revealed on June 6 at the National Magazine Awards gala. [TICKETS]

See also:
Top 9 Infographics in Canadian Magazines
Top 6 Canadian Magazines for Art Direction
Top 10 Canadian Magazine Illustrations
Top Magazine Videos in Canada

 

How Did They Create That Cover? Toronto Life

The finalists for the 37th annual National Magazine Awards have been announced — including ten nominations in the Magazine Covers category.

In a new blog series titled How Did They Create That Cover? the NMAF chats with the creative directors of the Magazine Covers finalists about how their covers were made. It’s a behind-the-scenes look at things we may or may not think about when we pick up a magazine and devour its pages.

Today we chat with Christine Dewairy, art director at Toronto Life and creator of this nominated cover:

NMAF: Can you explain the process of choosing the child on the cover?

Christine Dewairy: Well, it had to be a mixed-race child, obviously.* But we also wanted to go in extremely close, and this little girl had such gorgeous skin, captivating eyes and lush curly hair. She was perfect. Also being about three years old, she was still in that very pure, sweet, innocent age.

*Editor’s Note: The cover story of this issue of Toronto Life, “Mixie Me” by Nicholas Hune-Brown, is also nominated for 2 NMAs this year.

NMAF: Did you always know that the image would only show a portion of the child’s face? 

Christine: No, but we did know it was a gatefold cover and that we’d need something on the flap. Showing only a portion of her face gave it impact and intimacy that would have been lost had the photo been more pulled back. I wanted the newsstand reader or passerby to be drawn in by the intense eye contact, and then the understated headline directly below.

Also, because the story wasn’t about this child in particular, but about a societal shift, by zooming in on the face, it becomes less about the person and more about the features — the eye, the hair, the skin, etc.

NMAF: Placing text on someone’s face is unique and unconventional for magazine covers. Did you have any hesitations about this? 

Christine: I didn’t want to lose the immediacy and impact of the larger-than-life face, to make room for the headline. The type becomes part of the image. You can’t look at one without absorbing the other simultaneously.

NMAF: Some might look at this cover and be immediately drawn to the child’s eye. In your opinion, what do you think is the focal point of this cover?

Christine: The viewer’s eye might wander at first, from the girl’s eye, to her lashes, her curls, and so on, but I think it’s impossible to just stop at the eye. Her features frame the type in such a way that marries the elements.

NMAF: What were some concerns and challenges when putting together this cover?

Christine: One question was how small you can go with the main sell, and how low you can place it on the page, and still draw people’s attention. We decided to keep it relatively small. I think sometimes a whisper can be louder than a shout, especially when you lay it on an enormously compelling image, like this one, and the words are super clear and unequivocal.

 

This interview was edited for content. Special thanks to Nadya Domingo for conducting the interview.

More ‘How Did They Create That Cover?’Fashion Magazine

Check out the finalists for best Magazine Cover on our Facebook page. Share your feedback with us on Twitter: @MagAwards | #NMA14 | #MagazineCovers.

The Gold and Silver winners will be revealed on June 6 at the National Magazine Awards gala. [TICKETS]

How Did They Create That Cover? Fashion Magazine

The finalists for the 37th annual National Magazine Awards have been announced — including ten nominations in the Magazine Covers category.

In a new blog series titled How Did They Create That Cover? the NMAF chats with the creative directors of the Magazine Covers finalists about how their covers were made. It’s a behind-the-scenes look at things we may or may not think about when we pick up a magazine and devour its pages.

Today we chat with Eng Lau, art director at FASHION Magazine and creator of this nominated cover:

NMAF: Was it difficult to pick the final image of Miley?

Eng Lau: There are a few factors to consider when picking a cover image. Firstly, the energy of eye contact; will her look grab the attention if you are just browsing through the newsstand? Secondly, is there room for cover lines? We have to ensure that all cover lines are legible, in order to convey the content in the issue that would appeal to a wide range of readers. The image satisfied both counts, so no, it was not a difficult choice.

NMAF: How was the blue and red shadow effect achieved?

Eng: The red and blue shadow helps to create a 3-D effect, and [helps] make it pop against the plain white background. The shadow in the image is a result of a particular lighting effect used by the photographer. Colours are what make the image pop in an elegant way. You need just enough of a contrast, but it must still be stylish.

NMAF: There are certain words on the cover that are set in boldface red. Can you explain why these words were chosen specifically?

Eng: We highlighted certain words to create balance of the colours on the layout and to make it more dynamic.

NMAF: Miley is quoted on the cover (“Shocking is what I’m good at”). How was this quote chosen?

Eng: The editorial team looks over the article and selects a few outstanding quotes. We meet to look over the selections and see what works the best and fits into the space comfortably.

NMAF: With a cover like this, people’s attention might be immediately drawn to the celebrity. How do you draw their attention to the content as well as the image?

Eng: The strong image is what initially draws an individual to the magazine, and once they stop to look at it, we have to ensure that the cover lines are visually appealing as well as succinct and enticing to readers. Both image and text have to work in harmony to create a powerful and appealing cover, and we are very pleased to have received a National Magazine Awards nomination!

[This interview was edited for content. Special thanks to Nadya Domingo for conducting the interview.]

Check out the finalists for best Magazine Cover on our Facebook page. Share your feedback with us on Twitter: @MagAwards | #NMA14 | #MagazineCovers.

The Gold and Silver winners will be revealed on June 6 at the National Magazine Awards gala. [TICKETS].