"We Think of the Magazine as a Collaboration." Lit Mag Reading Club Q & A with Lauren Hohle, Managing Editor of Gettysburg Review
Another editor interview is in the books!
I’ve just wrapped up a most delightful chat with Lauren Hohle, Managing Editor of The Gettysburg Review. This journal
published by Gettysburg College, is recognized as one of the country’s premier literary journals. Since its debut in 1988, work by such luminaries as E. L. Doctorow, Rita Dove, James Tate, Joyce Carol Oates, Richard Wilbur, and Donald Hall has appeared alongside that of emerging artists…
Lauren joined the staff in 2019. Today she told us about the magazine’s editorial process, who screens submissions, how selections are made, and what kinds of editorial collaboration happens between editors and writers whose work is chosen for publication.
As Managing Editor, Lauren reads every fiction submission that comes in. Hearing this I asked, quite simply, “What do you like?” She replied that she is “always looking to feel something” when she’s reading. Other elements she said she appreciates are “surprise” and “contrast.”
To learn more of what the editors like, reading the magazine is always a good idea. As this interview was part of our Lit Mag Reading Club, attendees and I had done just that. Almost all of us found this issue to be full of stunning work. Two essays in particular that dazzled us were “Coordinates” by Talley V. Kayser and “Easter Monday, Neighborhood Walk” by Rebecca McClanahan. Today, Lauren took us through the editorial process of each of these works, as well as several others.
We also observed that this particular issue carried themes of caring for aging parents and appreciating or losing oneself in the natural world. The artwork (both the cover and a portfolio) emphasized the nature theme.
Is this something that the editors have in mind as they accept submissions? Did they try to get the pieces to communicate with one another and illuminate various facets of these themes? If so, is there an advantage to submitting at a particular time during the open submission period?
Lauren said the themes to each issues are not pre-decided, but rather emerge organically. They don’t explicitly seek work that will speak to other pieces in the issue, though it often happens, and the editors will later decide on the layout of the magazine in order to draw out aspects of those themes. No, there is no advantage to submitting at any particular time.
What about essays? What kind of work do they especially love? And how much actually comes from the “slush pile”? Are author credentials taken into consideration when reviewing submissions? Is this a good home for new writers? How do the editors approach humor in writing?
For all this and more, friends, you will have to watch the video! This one is for Lit Mag Reading Club members only, but you can become a member any time by subscribing.
Gettysburg Review is open from September 1st to May 31st for fiction, nonfiction, poetry and essay-reviews.
Today’s was a lively conversation not only about the magazine but Lauren’s own writing process and how to approach particular craft problems, especially how the first three pages of a story can help or hurt the reading experience (and chances of publication).
To everyone who came out today, thank you for participating!
And, of course, thank you to Lauren for taking us behind the scenes of another stellar little lit mag.