Past Intern Update: Rebekah Richgels

Rebekah Richgels, Fiction Editor of Issue 2 and Issue 3, reflects on life in the publishing world after Superstition Review.

Oh, how naïve I was.

Intern Update Rebekah RichgelsSuperstition Review was the beginning of living my dreams. I spent two semesters with SR as one of the Fiction Editors during my junior year. It was bliss. I spent my time talking with people who loved writing and reading and even editing. I contacted hundreds (if not literally, then very close) of already published authors like I was a peer of theirs and got a great response. I loved the community of the written word that I was thrown into. I got to interview T.C. Boyle, for crying out loud!

The next year I delved further, but also expanded. I was the head Fiction editor for Lux, Arizona State University’s

Undergraduate Creative Review. That was awesome because it dealt with undergraduates and truly sought to foster the artistic creativity in students, bring it to light, and then polish it. Great fun.

I graduated in 2010 with my B.A. in Creative Writing, minor in French, and defended thesis from Barrett, the Honors College. I spent the summer in Denver at the University of Denver Publishing Institute, and that was the best thing I had ever done in my life. Ever. I met people who not just loved reading and writing, but who wanted to spend their lives making sure the world can read great stuff. I was on top of the world, as you might imagine.

Then, as is always the case, reality struck.

Publishing jobs are in New York City, mainly, with another hub in Boston and one near San Francisco. My significant other was (and is) at medical school at Stanford, which is in Northern California, so I packed up my car and braved the new wilderness of California, believing that I would be hired right off and work my way up the ladder in the publishing world.

Ha.

I spent nine months working for Costco and applying for all manner of entry-level publishing jobs. The economy being what it was, there weren’t many. The other aspect of California publishing is that the publishers who aren’t small independents are academics, and turnover is small in both those fields. Not to mention, the larger companies were buying up independents to use as imprints. Even Random House and Penguin were merging. All in all, my dreams were hard to make reality.

Costco wasn’t cutting it for me, so we parted ways. I began working as a nanny, independently for a freelance editor, hoping that her connections could extend to me, and I took on a transcription project that lasted two months. Then, last summer, I noticed that the Superstition Review Facebook page had posted an intern position for Weave Magazine, which was conveniently located in San Francisco. I applied. They rejoiced! Apparently I’m far more qualified, thanks to SR, than many of their applicants.

Let me just tell you all, I love it. It’s like Superstition Review in so many ways, but with even more fun interacting. I don’t get to do the solicitation, but the group conversations about the submissions are wonderful, and I love the exposure to writers.

I’m still searching for my break-in publishing job, but in the meantime I’m busying myself with office admin work at a property management company. I’ve also landed a 12-week internship with Bleacher Report, the online sports website, where I do 15 hours of copyediting a week. Since the content is mostly submitted by unpaid authors, my work is sorely needed, let me tell you.

So life hasn’t turned out like I imagined it would, but I’ve been able to adjust my expectations along the way (with some pouting moments, I’ll admit), and things are going well now. I’m not an SR success story yet, but I’ll get there. You’ll read about it, I promise.

Spotlight on Rebekah Richgels, by Danielle Kuffler

rebekahrichgels_1Danielle Kuffler: What is your process when reviewing a submission?

Rebekah Richgels: I generally skip the title and dive straight into the story. If it is poorly punctuated or confusing, sometimes I have to start over. Once I am about a third of the way through, if I’m not invested in the story yet I call it a No. As I read, I look for character development and depth, interesting subject matter that draws me in and keeps me reading, and a coherent plot. Ideally these things also come with good prose. If a story has all that I say Yes. I love that we do a blind read of the stories so we aren’t swayed by the author’s fame or lack thereof.

DK: What has been your best SR moment?

RR: My best moment with SR was definitely when Sara Scoville and I interviewed TC Boyle. I was really nervous ahead of time, but he made everything really relaxed and the whole experience turned out amazingly.

DK: What has been your worst SR moment?

RR: It’s not that bad, but my worst SR moment was at the beginning of Fall 2008, when I accidentally solicited from a poet and he emailed back telling me he didn’t do fiction. I tried to respond in a joking way and also pass the blame, which made us all look pretty unprofessional. I learned from it, though, and I’m a lot more thorough with my solicitations now.

DK: What is your favorite book or author/poet?

RR: My favorite author is John Steinbeck, but I also love reading pieces by Rick Reilly, former writer for Sports Illustrated.

DK: What was the first book you ever read?

RR: I’m not sure about the first book I ever read, but the first ones I remember reading were the Boxcar Children series. I read so many of them that I even had a dream where I was reading one.

DK: What skills of yours are most beneficial to SR?

RR: I like to think that I work pretty hard to get through the things we need to do. I can sit down and run through a lot of work in a day if that’s what we need to catch up. I think I do a good job, too, of explaining situations to other people, like Sarah Dillard, my other fiction editor, so that she felt up to speed with our jobs here.

DK: What are you reading currently?

RR: I just finished Leaving Atlanta, Tayari Jones’ first book, and am starting Which Brings Me To You, the collaborative novel between Julianna Baggott and Steve Almond. I am also reading Bright Lights, Big City, by Jay McInerney for my Literary Forms class.

DK: What is your favorite work of nonfiction?

RR: I guess I would have to say Ghost Soldiers, the book about the Bataan Death March, because it was the first nonfiction book I had ever chosen to read. I really prefer the fiction world.

DK: What is your favorite work of art or artist?

RR: I love Rodin. For some reason, his sculptures seem especially beautiful to me.

DK: What are some advantages to working in the online format of SR?

RR: The best advantage of working online is the space. We have no limit to how much we publish, and aren’t limited by printing costs either.

DK: What kind of experiences have you gained at SR that will help in your future?

RR: I have learned better responsibility and independence, as well as increased diplomacy and really great connections to the literary world.

Superstition Review Interviews T.C. Boyle

T.C. Boyle with Sara and Rebekah

Rebekah and Sara with T.C. Boyle

On February 25th, Changing Hands Bookstore hosted T.C. Boyle for a reading and questions on his most recent novel, The Women. Fiction Editor Rebekah Richgels and former Fiction Editor Sara Scoville spent about an hour interviewing the author before the event. Rebekah comments on the experience.

The idea of chatting with T. C. Boyle about his work seemed nerve-wracking at first because he’s a well-known author who has published 20 books. He arrived and we made our introductions, then Trish set up the camera and we dove right in. Sara and I had created banks of questions to choose from, but as we talked we became more comfortable and found ourselves going “off script.” Mr. Boyle entertained us with anecdotes but also respectfully considered our more serious questions. Changing Hands was the last stop on his nationwide book tour, but he answered our questions as though he was hearing them for the first time.

As we probed into the details of his literary career–his various styles, how he gets to know his characters, how he comes up with ideas–it became obvious that we were speaking with a natural talent. This is a man who finds a subject that interests him and spends months gathering and gleaning information so that when he finally sits down to write about it he sounds as knowledgeable as someone who has devoted their life to this one topic. He writes seven days a week, probably without fail, not because he has to make himself move forward with a piece, but because he has made writing so natural that it is almost like eating.

Though he is promoting his 20th book, Boyle has already submitted his 21st–a collection of stories including “Wild Child,” mentioned in his novel Talk Talk–and is more than halfway through his 22nd, another novel. He has an ability to write so that subjects are engaging and fresh, so that his characters are real, and so that each story draws you in. He writes with an ease that makes all authors jealous and makes publishers celebrate. Interviewing him was a priceless experience, and one that I am so excited to be able to share with all our readers. The podcast interview will be available on April 20th, the launch date of Issue 3 of Superstition Review.

T.C. Boyle

T.C. Boyle