In this issue of Gatherings, we profile Mike Lim AE, SCAANZS Acting Chair.

Image of Mike Lim AE

Mike Lim AE

When and why did you join IPEd?

I first joined in the late 1990s because I was trying to make it as a freelancer. I joined again in the mid 2010s because I was trying to make it as a company man. I anticipate joining again in the 2030s when I try to make it as the guy who does the newsletter for the local Oxfam secondhand bookstore. 

What is your current and past involvement with IPEd?

I edited the freelancer directory when it was still a print publication. These days I’m involved with the EdSA committee and the style guide committee, helping to position them both as groups that provide resources and value for members. I also run occasional workshops on topics I pretend to be familiar with.

What does IPEd mean to you?

Standing near a bowl of mixed nuts with a glass of wine in my hand, talking about punctuation with someone who’s not going to back away when I ask them what their favourite dash is. 

It’s tough in these COVID-19 times to feel connected. But the online groups and the chance to meet folks from interstate more frequently through my screen help.

Why are you prepared to volunteer your own time to IPEd?

I watch too much TV and this helps me cut down.

What is your current job?

I’m a Content Designer for the South Australian Government.

What does your role entail?

I help manage the content on my department’s website and apps. The content is usually words, but it could be a calculation tool or a podcast. Most of my work is organising these components into place and it’s a luxury when I get a block of time to do some actual editing, just me and a para of turgid prose going toe to toe. I try my best to apply user research and advocate for accessibility and readability. Life is complicated enough and websites don’t need to be. 

Some background on your career path what led you to editing?

Robin Eaden worked in the Adelaide University English Department in the 90s. She edited Southern Review, the department’s literary journal, and she got me involved with copyediting and proofreading. I’ll always remember her gentle encouragement and her warm and wise friendship. I lost touch with her in the years after but it still hit hard when I heard that she died suddenly.

Others encouraged my inclinations and gave me good advice at the right times, people like Ruth Trigg and Kathie Stove.

That kind of community is what IPEd can nurture.

If you were not an editor, what would you do?

I’d be a dance-film cinematographer (away with words). Or someone who sorts out the wayfinding in hospitals.

What do you do in your spare time?

I’ve just got a watch that tells me it’s time to go for a run and then asks me how I feel afterwards. Maybe I’ll work up to an actual race someday. But really, I keep running so I can talk to my watch.

I also spend too much time on YouTube with tango videos, and hope I make it back to the dance floor soon. The last time I danced tango was in Melbourne, just before the pestilence rolled in. I’m thinking of you now, Melbourne, where there is very little public tango going on.

What sports do you enjoy watching and/or playing?

Playing — see previous answer. I’m not really into team sports, though I did score a goal once in the office indoor soccer tournament. It was the last game of a spectacular losing streak so I retired on a high.

Watching — my partner has got me into women’s soccer and we’re tracking Chelsea through the Women’s Super League. And live, in pre-contagion times, roller derby was a fine way to spend a Saturday night.

What’s your favourite holiday destination? Why?

Aotearoa. I’ve never been to New Zealand but it’s my favourite destination. Milford Sound. Te Papa museum. The Wellington bucket fountain. There’d be the chance to run into Jacinda or Taika or Officer O’Leary. Oh, and the Women’s World Cup 2023.

Do you have any pets?

Nelson is a black cat with a shy demeanour and very loud eating. He grew up with my partner Kirsty and still gets shy around me. Charlie is also a cat. He has longish black fur and white socks and a white moustache. He has no qualms about me and enjoys coming to sit on my chest just as I’m thinking of getting up from the couch.

Who do you admire most and why?

Rebecca Solnit, for her wisdom, eloquence, and engagé compassion. (Visit http://rebeccasolnit.net/ for more info about this American writer.)

What would you never give up?

It’s obvious

What are your favourite books/movies?


William Gibson’s Pattern Recognition. It gave me a familiar/strange near-future world I wanted to inhabit for longer than the pages lasted. 

Ralph Gibson’s The Somnambulist, because it helped me see the surreal in the everyday, and the power of photographs next to other photographs. 

Susan Orlean’s The Orchid Thief, for its mix of detective story and botanical primer. And because it translated into a movie that’s innovative on its own terms. 


Wong Kar Wai’s Fallen Angels, because what evokes ennui and longing more than neon-lit stairways and near-empty bars with jukeboxes playing Cantonese pop songs?

Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight; so gentle and tough and lyrical. 

Jane Campion’s In The Cut. Murder and desire. The endings of the film and the book it’s based on diverge in interesting ways.

(How many do I have? Shall I just stop here?)

What’s something very few people know about you?

I got accepted into law school once but decided to keep on with English lit instead. Roads not taken, huh? Imagine, I could be charging you for all the six-minute blocks I’ve spent answering these questions. 

Your scariest moment?

A friend who’d gone overseas for a year had lent me her car, a cream Renault 16 with tyres that squealed on even gentle bends. One rainy evening I was driving along Glen Osmond Road. My attention lapsed for a second, and the car in front stopped. I pushed down on the brake with everything, but the Renault did not stop. It kept sliding towards the other car. The rainy windscreen. The sliding that wasn’t really a screech but more a clenched sigh. The other car just kept getting closer.

What else would you like to share with your fellow IPEd members?

Pet peeve: ‘Literary award winner’ stickers integrated into paperback covers.

Pet preference: US editions of books.