Meet Our Staff: Stephanie Harper

Posted by on Jul 14, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

SHStephanie Harper is the type of writer that you want as a friend. She has a very keen editorial eye, an imaginative mind, and a kind heart. She is full of knowledge on the world she lives in, and she loves to learn about the people and places around her. Stephanie is an organized and dedicated writer. She cares deeply about her characters, and creates a world so real, that as a reader, you feel part of the entire experience.


In her job as an Editorial Reader for Spry, Stephanie’s attention to detail is what pulls her through the lengthy submission manager. She pays close attention to every single submission assigned to her, and she takes this responsibility very seriously. We feel so lucky to have her as a teammate, and know that whomever we assign to her for the next issue will be in very trusted, capable hands.


Spry: Tell us about where you are from.
Stephanie: I’ve lived in Colorado pretty much all my life. I’m completely in love. Denver’s sort of my perfect city. You have all the elements of culture that lend to that urban vibrancy you find in larger cities, but there’s something more compact and personable about Denver. The culture is so ideal. And, then there’s the mountains. So easy to escape into the beauty that Colorado has to offer. They’re always right there to the west. And that spirit really injects itself into life in the city too. It’s a very unique perspective. Not to mention, there’s a lot of really excellent craft beer to be had.


What was your favorite childhood story and why?
When I was little, my grandmother used to read me stories from a Reader’s Digest edition of “The World’s Best Fairy Tales.” I was incredibly taken with the story of “The Little Match Girl.” It was not a happy story but I was so taken by it. How nobody wanted to help this poor little girl. How she found beauty in the light of the matches, in visions of holidays and her grandmother. How she saw a shooting star. There was something so peaceful about it, how her grandmother carried her away after she had died in the cold, and I think it was a special story because it was always my grandmother reading it to me. My grandmother passed away when I was 10 and I’ve always held onto the experience of reading that story together as a kind of connection to her. I saw a shooting star just the other night, and this was the first thing I thought of. It’s nice a story that’s so wrapped up in my memory of her.


What genre do you write in, and what drew you to that form of writing?
I predominately write fiction, I think, because I’ve always told stories, for as long as I can remember, and it’s the most natural thing in the world to me. For me, fiction is a way to explore the world, universal aspects of what it means to be human, to be in relationships with one another. There is something incredibly honest about fiction. I’ve also always felt like I write the stories I write because they need to be written. I’m not always in charge. Sometimes the stories speak for themselves.


If you could meet any author (living or dead) who would it be, and what would you do?
I’d love to share a pot of afternoon tea with Jane Austen. I’m so fascinated by her mind, the way she saw and criticized the world she was living in at the time, and her understanding of human behavior. I also think her own life story in contrast to what she wrote is so interesting. I’d love to pick her brain.


What is your writing routine like?
This is a difficult question to answer because I don’t really have one. I’ve always written in fits of stops and starts. I write quickly and usually in large chunks at a time. So it’s not uncommon to sit down and write several pages and then not touch it again for a week. This is perhaps not the most reliable of processes. But, I’m trying to work on it. I’ve been trying to set a goal to write at least 500 words a day, get into a more steady routine. I’ll let you know how it goes.


Is reading for a literary journal what you expected? Explain.
Yes and no. I’ve been a genre editor before, so in some ways I knew what the nuts and bolts process was like in terms of looking at submissions and whatnot. What’s different about reading for Spry is that I get to read in a variety of genres. This has challenged me to read pieces outside of what I’m used to reading in a critical manner and think about things differently. I’ve really enjoyed that aspect of it.


When not reading or writing, how do you spend your time?
Well, I’m on an epic job hunt right now, so I spend a ridiculous amount of time on job boards. I’m also a Pinterest and Tumblr addict. When I get out of the house, it’s usually to try a new restaurant and enjoy the Denver foodie scene or partake in some tasty Colorado craft beer.


What type of submission do you find yourself drawn to?
In all genres, I’m really drawn to pieces that pull me in with concrete images that I can get lost in. If I can really see the world, however large or small, that the writer is describing, I’m going to want to spend my time there. For fiction, character is also incredibly important.I want to feel compelled by the person(s) I’m following. For creative nonfiction, I’m always interested in a narrative that presents either a unique story, or even more importantly, a not so unique story in an original way. For poetry, I’m most drawn to poems that make me fall in love with the language but also leave me with something to take away when I’m finished.


What three writers have influenced you the most?
Margaret Atwood in terms of the incredible diversity of her career and the way she has created her style, Michael Chabon in terms of his often over-the-top descriptive style that somehow works and interest in exploring genre, and e.e. cummings in terms of language and image and learning how to have fun with words.


How do you vote on the art submissions?
Art submissions can be tough. I try to think about the piece in terms of what’s happening compositionally, what I think about the piece aesthetically, and also if I think the piece has any sort of clear take away message that might be interesting. I think all of these elements are valuable.


Is there anything you’d like our readers to know about you?
I’m afraid of squirrels and have an inexplicable aversion to the color yellow


Do you have any favorite published poems/stories/essays from other issues?
I loved working on “Moments” by Wentzien in Issue 3. It’s a very cool, very unique piece.


Who are your heroes?
My heroes are anyone who attempts to choose joy and wonder as a general state of being. It’s a tall order and not an easy thing to do in the world we live in.
 Thank you, Stephanie! We love having you on board, and we appreciate your keen, selective eye!

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