Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Behind the Masthead: Dana Diehl, Managing Editor

The job of Managing Editor is a taxing one. It involves lots of keeping up with contributors, handling money and providing organizational expertise. So who is behind all that at Hayden’s Ferry Review? Meet Dana Diehl! Our intern Kacie Wheeler caught up with her to find out her title is all about, what she does in her downtime and when exactly HFR is going to get a Vine.

Kacie Wheeler: What is Hayden’s Ferry Review?

Dana Diehl: Hayden’s Ferry Review is a mysterious deep sea creature that only surfaces twice a year.

KW: Tell me about your job. What do you spend most of your time doing?

DD: I’m the Managing Editor, which translates into a lot of organizing and emailing. I look at new submissions and assign them to readers. I’m the one who’s been bugging contributors over the past two months about publication agreements.

KW: That sounds exciting! What part of your job do you enjoy the most?

DD: Though the amount of submissions we get can sometimes be overwhelming, I really enjoy the element of surprise in my job. We never know what we’re going to get, and it’s exciting to open up a new sub, especially when I don’t already know of the author. Wading through submissions is like going on a treasure hunt.

KW: How do you spend your time when you are not working?

DD: These days, I watch Battlestar Galactica and hangout with my housemates’ animals (one dog, one cat, one turtle, and a mystery-number of fish [ed. note: R.I.P. to the snail]). Sometimes I kill scorpions with a frying pan. Whenever I can, I get out of Tempe and go hiking in (northern, cooler) Arizona.

KW: How has technology changed how literary magazines are run?

DD: I’m really excited about the opportunities technology provides to literary magazines. Because of submission managers like Submittable, which HFR uses, we spend less time chasing down hard-copies of submissions, and more time reading and using out creative energies. Social media allows us to build a strong community with fans and contributors who live all over the world (last year, we had live, online readings to launch issues 51 and 52). Literary magazines have done some really cool creative things with the online format.

KW: What exactly is Submittable? Is HFR currently on any social networks? If so, which one(s)? If not, why?

DD: Submittable’s Submission Manager is a super useful tool. It’s a little difficult to describe, but basically it keeps things organized and makes our jobs, as editors, way easier. We can assign submissions to readers through Submittable, share comments with other editors, and contact contributors. It also allows us to search for submissions based on genre, date submitted, etc. Submitters can watch the status of their sub by accessing their own Submittable account. It’s great. I can’t imagine how editors did it in the days of snail mail. They must have been way more stressed out.

HFR is active on Twitter #followus!, Facebook, and here in the blog world. We’ve tossed around the idea of using Vine, though I guess it’d mostly be shots of us staring intently at computer screens and shuffling through huge stacks of computer paper.

KW: What would you like to see more of in submissions to HFR?

DD: We already get such great submissions. My favorites are the stories with fresh, energetic language. Stories that take risks in form or content.

KW: What do you mean by energetic language? Could you give us a few examples?

DD: The first writer that comes to mind is George Saunders. He’s so incredibly voicey and creative with language. You get the sense that he really loves words. I think this is what I mean by “energetic language.” I like sentences that surprise me without distracting me or pulling me out of the story. I love writers who love words.

KW: What have you enjoyed most about Hayden’s Ferry Review?

DD: I love interacting with other writers. Through my communication with contributors, I’ve had the opportunity to meet some really interesting people (for example, I recently learned that Chelsea Biondolillo, from Issue 53, prepares bird skins for her Natural History museum – woah!). I’m also really looking forward to AWP in Seattle. We are planning some fun, map-themed activities for our “Departure” issue.

KW: Could you tell us more about the “Departure” issue? I’m sure we are all excited for this new issue!

DD: It’s going to be great. Our contributors interpret “departure” in some really interesting, surprising ways. There’s the literal departure (SPOILER: we have a story about a pirate-father who’s always leaving for sea and a poem about Mars). There’s emotional departure, departure from childhood. I’m excited about the art in this issue, as well. But I don’t want to give it all away. You’ll have to buy a copy!

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Dana Diehl is a second year MFA candidate in fiction. She writes about science and animals a lot. She’s from Pennsylvania. She went on a cross-country road-trip this summer and camped in the Badlands. She is not sure what else to say.

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