An Interview with Benjamin Dreyer

"To be perfectly honest, it wasn't my intention to write a book that was especially fair or even handed. I wanted to write the book about the things that I think work." —Benjamin Dreyer

Mignon Fogarty,
Episode #664

Click on the player to hear the whole interview.

Benjamin Dreyer's book, "Dreyer's English," became a surprise bestseller and is already on its fifth printing just two weeks after the publication date. Dreyer, vice president, executive managing editor and copy chief of Random House, worked on the book for years, and it shows. The kernel of the book started with a New Year's resolution to write every day and developed into a modern blend of "Eats, Shoots & Leaves" and "Words into Type" (Dreyer's favorite style guide) that allows Dreyer's entertaining voice and many years of copy editing expertise shine through.

In this interview, we talked about 

  • How Benjamin found his voice.
  • Benjamin's reaction to some out-of-context coverage of the book.
  • What he does as a copy chief.
  • House styles.
  • Why his book largely ignores AP style.
  • Some of our favorite tidbits from the fabulous section on fiction writing.
  • His unusual pet peeves.
  • How book design has evolved to accomodate digital marketing.
  • Why the paper used for his book jacket is called "gritty Capote."
  • The story behind the title of the book.
  • Why "glamour" still has a U in American English even though most similar words have lost their U.

Click the player above to hear the whole interview or click through to read the entire (rough) transcript.



About the Author

Mignon Fogarty

Mignon Fogarty is the founder of the Quick and Dirty Tips network and creator of Grammar Girl, which has been named one of Writer's Digest's 101 best websites for writers multiple times. The Grammar Girl podcast has also won Best Education Podcast multiple times in the Podcast Awards, and Mignon is an inductee in the Podcasting Hall of Fame. Mignon is the author of the New York Times best-seller "Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing" and six other books on writing. She has appeared as a guest on the "Oprah Winfrey Show" and the "Today Show" and has been featured in the New York Times, Business Week, the Washington Post, USA Today, CNN.com, and more. She was previously the chair of media entrepreneurship in the Reynolds School of Journalism in Reno, NV. She hates the phrase "grammar nazi" and loves the word "kerfuffle." She has a B.A. in English from the University of Washington in Seattle and an M.S. in biology from Stanford University. Mignon believes that learning is fun, and the vast rules of grammar are wonderful fodder for lifelong study. 

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