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Derek Weiler, editor-in-chief of Quill & Quire, passed away yesterday. He was 40 years old and articles posted today cite that he passed away suddenly at his home in Toronto. Quill & Quire posted an announcement about his death on their website this morning, and articles have popped up all over the internet throughout the day. Two of the most heartfelt and well-written articles I’ve found are by Martin Levin (Books Editor at The Globe & Mail) and Steven W. Beattie (Review Editor at Quill & Quire).

Without a doubt, Derek’s death will be felt throughout the Canadian publishing industry. His work at Q&Q was phenomenal and so crucial to publishers and authors across the nation. He was an extremely talented writer and editor, and even more importantly he was an incredible person. Every word I’ve read about Derek today has been exceptionally positive, praising his kind and gentle manner along with his quick wit. I only got to meet Derek twice, but from those two short meetings alone I can agree that all these assertions are spot on.

The first time I met Derek I interviewed him, and the second time I met Derek he interviewed me. These two incidents were just over a week apart. At the beginning of this past March, myself and two classmates interviewed Derek as part of a presentation we were doing on Quill & Quire for our Magazine Editing class in our last term of the Book & Magazine Publishing post-graduate certificate program at Centennial College (which, incidentally, Derek is also a graduate of). The three of us were thrilled that the EIC of a magazine was taking the time out of his busy day to meet with us, but Derek modestly insisted that it wasn’t that big of a deal. Meeting Derek that first time, I liked him immediately. He was kind, well-spoken, and had interesting answers to all of our questions. I instantly felt a connection to him, and even more so when I found out that not only were we both Centennial grads, but like Derek I had also attained a BA in English Lit at the University of Waterloo, and I also worked at Imprint, UW’s student newspaper during my years at the university.

Our interview with Derek was fairly brief, but I was thrilled by the opportunity to learn more about my favourite magazine. And to actually meet the editor-in-chief? What an amazing experience. I know that the one statement from that interview that we’ll always remember was when we asked Derek what role he thought Q&Q played in the industry and he made it very clear that the magazine was “not a cheerleader”. I remember that when I wrote that down in my notes I actually underlined each word because he wanted us to understand that Q&Q‘s role was to report the happenings of the industry, whether they be positive or negative. The magazine’s job was not to simply provide moral support to publishers, and I admired his integrity on that matter.

The second time I met Derek we switched roles as he interviewed me for their summer internship position. It was a job interview like any other, but again I enjoyed meeting him and appreciated his laid-back manner. Although he told me that I may have to wait a week or more to hear back, I received a phone call from him the next evening offering me the position. I think I floated on air the rest of that night and likely for the next few days as well. Not only was I extremely excited for the opportunity to work for Q&Q but I was also incredibly looking forward to working with a man that I already so very much admired and respected.

I am saddened that my chance to learn from this amazing editor has been cut so very short. His influence on the industry has been so great already and I know that he still had much more to teach us all.