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Paper Lanterns Literary Journal Q&A: One Year On

About a year ago, I published a Q&A on my blog featuring Paper Lanterns, a brand new YA literary journal focusing on short stories, essays, and reviews.

Today I’m excited to be spotlighting Paper Lanterns again, this time with an interview looking back over the past year and seeing how things have changed for the journal and the team running it.

Happy one year anniversary of founding Paper Lanterns! How has the past year been for you? 

The past year has been equally exciting and challenging! We love creating the journal, reading work from our contributors and enjoying the finished piece. We faced a steep learning curve at the start, especially when the pandemic hit and we had to move our sales and events online. We’re constantly learning how to make our production processes better and our journal more inclusive. 

Having the support from other journals, writers, and bookshops has been very encouraging during this strange year. We feel part of a very warm and welcoming literary journal community!

The fourth edition of Paper Lanterns has just released. What are some of the things you’ve learned over the course of creating four journal issues?

Working from home and not being able to see one another has meant that we’re working on this extremely collaborative project separately. As such, we’re always looking at how we can communicate effectively as a team.

Our weekly check-ins have helped – it’s good to see one another’s faces, have a cup of tea, and then get down to business for an hour or so, whether it’s checking edits, planning a competition, or discussing our book club.

But we’re always learning. As the journal develops, we know we need to be flexible in our approach too. 

What have some of your highlights been over the past year? How has the journal changed and developed since issue 1?

Getting Arts Council funding was a huge highlight. Aside from feeling validated in the work that we’re doing, it meant we could pay our contributors a higher fee, and add extra pages to our already jam-packed journal.

We’ve also been incredibly fortunate to have had two Laureate na nÓg writers (Sarah Crossan and Áine Ní Ghlinn) featured in issues 1 and 3, as well as many exciting YA authors in all four issues.

What’s been your favourite thing to work on?

Seeing the designer’s first full draft of the complete issue is magical. It makes working on the final edits an energising process, full of anticipation. It’s such an exciting moment when the file is opening up.

We also love reading the creative writing submissions. We are always in awe of the work we receive, especially from the teen writers; these young minds are full of beautiful ideas and they are so articulate too. It fills us with hope.

What are your hopes/plans for PL in the future? Where do you see the journal going?

We would like to build a strong partnership with libraries, offering workshops, open mics and readings, and other related programming for teens. We hope to make more connections with secondary school teachers who might encourage their students to submit work to us.

Cultivating appropriate public spaces for workshops, readings and events where young people under 18 can participate is also important, once we are able to do so again.

Finally, how can people get involved in PL and write for you if they want to?

Our submissions for art, photography, features, and essays are open all year round. Our submission period for creative writing for Issue 5 opens on March 25th until April 17th – we would love to read your flash fiction, poetry, and short stories so please send them our way!

Our main guideline is that work is created with a teenage audience in mind. You can find more details on our website: 

We have started an internship program for people wishing to gain experience in the process, and have been lucky to have had two great interns so far. The internship covers a full issue cycle, so you can see the process start to finish. The time commitment and weekly schedule are flexible. We’ll be looking for an intern this summer, so if you are interested, email us!

Huge thank you to the team at Paper Lanterns for this interview. Make sure to check out the journal at where you can buy previous issues, submit your work, or join their book club.

Banner with books on the right and left and flowers in the middle, reading: Until next time, Kate

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