IN OTHER WORDS #4 – Molly Gaudry
This is the fourth installment of IN OTHER WORDS, a feature we’re running in 2014 in which we interview various editors on the art of editing.
This time, we’re talking to Molly Gaudry, Creative Director at The Lit Pub.
1/You’re a writer and editor and publisher, and I don’t think I know of anyone who doesn’t respect and admire your work across the board. As someone who enhances the literary community three-fold, you have an enviable position, but one that requires a great amount of work, so I was hoping you’d talk a bit about the hardest part(s) of your job(s).
I think, these days, the hardest part of all of this is time-management.
I’m currently a PhD candidate at the University of Utah, finishing up my first year of coursework, and the truth is I’m struggling a bit because I am a much slower reader and writer than I used to be.
Due to a roller derby-related head trauma sustained in 2011, I live with two disabilities: (1) blurred or double vision and (2) sensory processing disorder. I go to vision therapy to help correct the former, and with my occupational therapist’s consent I self-regulate the latter by going to AntiGravity yoga for three hours a day, about five days a week.
After AG, then PhD responsibilities, I’m usually pretty wiped. But I try to spend at least one hour a day writing or editing my own work (and/or others’ for Lit Pub). I’m lucky most days to get past the one- or two-page mark.
2/I know that The Lit Pub (TLP) is very different now than when it first started, so I was wondering how it went from a review site to a full publisher with a sizable (and enviable!) catalog.
Well, the website still functions as a “review” site—although we like to privilege “recommendations.” It should be noted that anyone, at any time, may submit a recommendation for any great book, whether a recent release or an age-old Classic. Feel free to direct inquiries to Edward Rathke, submissions editor, or Joseph Michael Owens, web editor.
As for the publishing side of things, I’m the one lurking behind the scenes. When it became apparent in 2011 that Lit Pub should publish books, I brought to the catalog earlier titles I had published under two starter presses (Willows Wept and Cow Heavy). It only made sense to give a new life to those limited editions—Matt Bell’s How the Broken Lead the Blind, Scott Garson’s American Gymnopédies, JA Tyler’s In Love with a Ghost, Ben Segal’s & Erinrose Mager’s The Official Catalog of the Library of Potential Literature, Kathy Fish’s Together We Can Bury It, and Andrea Kneeland’s the Birds & the Beasts.
That said, wanting to increase the overall visibility of Lit Pub’s catalog, I also acquired a few titles from bigger names—Aimee Bender’s The Third Elevator, Miles Harvey’s The Drought, and Caitlin Horrocks’s 23 Months.
3/When you did the first round of print books for TLP, what was your curatorial process like? How does that differ from the contest format you currently run?
All of the titles listed above are the result of solicitations.
Since then, Lit Pub has relied on its annual prose contest to determine its catalog. The first prose contest was in June 2012, and Liz Schied’s lyric essay collection, The Shape of Blue, was selected for publication.
In June 2013, Lit Pub’s second prose contest yielded three winning manuscripts, all of which are coming soon: Lena Bertone’s Letters to the Devil, Katy Gunn’s Textile School, and Chelsea Clammer’s There Is Nothing Else to See Here.
4/Name one or two exemplary pieces you’ve published that epitomize both the online and the print formats of TLP.
Joseph, Eddy, and I agree that some of our best online recommendations include:
— Anthony Doerr’s “A Universe That’s Three Inches Tall and Weighs Three Pounds”
— Patrick Hicks’s “Imagination and Language Combine To Make Spirits In the Head”
— Chris Wiewiora’s “X Marks the Spot Where Four Months Converge”
— and your own “Stories About Scars” (editor’s note: It was honestly just a pleasure to be part of your project.)
We are also open to other kinds of recommendations, like:
— Kristina Born’s “Mark Leidner Is the Boss of Me”
— David Cotrone’s “I Would Never Want to Spit Them Up: An Open Letter to Brandi Wells”
— Sam Ligon’s “’What I am fine means is please stop talking’”
— and Lisa Buchs’s “A Voice In My Head”
As for print, I’ll just say that I have loved every moment I’ve spent with Liz Scheid’s The Shape of Blue—from that day I read, for the first time, the first page of her manuscript in the contest queue, to the day we met in Seattle at AWP and decided to send 200 copies of her book to a Hollywood gala.
I have also particularly loved bringing Kathy Fish’s Together We Can Bury It into print, as it encompasses over a decade of her short fiction.
And I am looking forward to bringing Lena’s, Katy’s, and Chelsea’s books into the world, too.
5/Is there an editor or publication that you know to regularly publish solid work, i.e., who do you return to again and again, as a reader?
Regarding indie presses, I am always interested in the work that comes out of Dorothy: A Publishing Project, Wave Books, and Essay Press, among others. And I will follow the careers of any writer that literary agent Maria Massie represents.
6/As a writer, you focus on genre-defying hybrid work. How does that aesthetic affect your curatorial interests? Is there overlap?
I think there is overlap. Several years ago I was most interested in the prose poem, then the verse novel. Today, I am most interested in the lyric essay and the lyric and meditative modes (whether fiction, non-fiction, or poetry).
Lit Pub’s third annual contest for prose will open to submissions in June 2014, and probably as a result of my shifting interests, I am considering adding two new contest categories: non-fiction and poetry. Not sure yet, but we’ll see.
7/Describe what it’s like to work with you in an editorial capacity, in three words.
I am Mother first, then midwife, then Grandmother who fades away but resides in heart and memory.
In 2011, Molly Gaudry was shortlisted for the PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award for Poetry, and her verse novel, We Take Me Apart, was named 2nd finalist for the Asian American Literary Award for Poetry. In 2012, YesYes Books released the 3-author volume Frequencies, which includes her short fiction collection “Lost July.” In 2014, The Cupboard released “Wild Thing,” a collection of essays and poems about recovery after brain injury, and Ampersand Books reprinted We Take Me Apart in anticipation of the release of its prequel Remember Us and its sequel Desire: A Haunting. Molly is a core faculty member of the Yale Writers’ Conference and is the Creative Director at The Lit Pub.