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Q&A with Ruth Ennis from Paper Lanterns

Hiya everyone,

Today I am so excited to bring you a fabulous Q&A with Ruth Ennis from the new teen & YA literary journal Paper Lanterns! Below you'll find out more about the journal, where it is available, how to join in with their seasonal book club and even more!

Before we dive in, I just wanted to let you know that Issue One is available now and here is a little teaser of what you can expect:

  • Interviews with Laureate na nÓg Sarah Crossan and #ReadIrishWomenChallenge founder Karina Clifford.

  • Artwork and photography from Allie Rafferty and Graeme C Photography.

  • New writing from Hanna Rose Sullivan, Joe Byrne, and Evangeline Henry.

  • Reviews of upcoming titles Queen of Coin and Whispers, Music from Another World, and A Treason of Thorns.

So without further ado, here is the Q&A!

(Photo Credit: Paper Lantern logo: credit to Eleanor Brayden)

Paper Lanterns is a new literary journal, founded in 2020 by Grace Kelley, Ruth Ennis and Amy O’Sullivan, to be published four times a year. Acting as a platform to promote the voices of young people in Ireland and across the world, this journal provides new and exciting content for a teen and young adult audience. It is also perfect for enthusiasts of teen and YA literature; from teachers and librarians, to parents and youth workers.

The journal is divided into three sections. Our Creative Writing section showcases work from talented teens, as well as work from adult writers of teen and YA literature, tied in with beautiful artwork and photography. The Features section includes essays on trends in the YA literary scene and inspiring observations from our younger contributors on the world around them. You can also expect some exciting interviews from authors and literature enthusiasts. Our Reviews sections offers an insight to the latest books for teens and young adults, from readers younger and older. You will also find details of our seasonal book club, where we discuss a book for older teens and a book for younger teens on our social media and on Goodreads.

(Photo Credit: Issue One cover: artwork “la gente es colorida” by Allie Rafferty, designed by Fiachra Johnston)

For our international readers, your best bet would be to order through our website, we ship to anywhere in the world! Issue One is available now, and issue two will be available at the end of July: https://paperlanternslit.com/shop/

For any of your readers based in Ireland, we also stock the journal in the following bookshops: Dubray Books, Halfway Up the Stairs, Woodbine Books, and Tertulia Bookshop.

We do offer a subscription service when we open for pre-orders just before we launch each issue. When these open, you’ll have the chance to sign up to a yearly subscription, which will get you a copy of the journal for the next four issues!

For updates on pre-orders (which will be very soon!) and all other things Paper Lanterns, follow us on social media:

Twitter: @paper__lanterns

Facebook: @PaperLanternsLit

Instagram: @paperlanterns_lit

YouTube: Paper Lanterns

Goodreads: Paper Lanterns

Website: www.paperlanternslit.com

Thank you! You’re very kind to say that. Honestly, the story is not quite what you might expect. We knew almost everything about the journal by November last year: the layout, our ethos, a lot of our goals, etc. But we still didn’t have a name. We were sitting in a hotel, having a meeting and we really needed to come up with a name at that stage. We kind of just sat there for a while, scribbling down different variations of the formula “Type of Material + Cool Object.” Ultimately “Paper Lanterns” came out and we really liked it. We felt it has a whimsical yet hopeful tone to it, which really encapsulates the idea we feel young teen writers give. We wanted to portray that sense of exploration and freedom that young writers experience when they create new work. Then, when our logo designer Eleanor Brayden produced what is now our official logo, it really solidified this ethos we were going for. It’s strange to think it could have been anything else now, it just feels right for us!

Submissions are open to anyone around the world! We accept short stories, poetry, flash fiction, art, photography, and essay proposals from anyone over the age of 13 years old. In the journal, we highlight the work by those aged 13 – 18 years and then those 19+ years. Our only main requirement is that the content is suitable and of interest to a teenage audience. For our teen writers, that means that if you are interested enough to write about it, then we want to read it! For our adult writers, it means we want to hear from those who want to write for a teenage and YA audience and tell stories that reflect that.

We are currently closed to submissions but will be opening them for issue three at the end of July, so please do keep an eye out on our social media for more news on that. In the meantime, you can check out our guidelines here: https://paperlanternslit.com/submissions/

We also are always on the lookout for readers to write for our book reviews section, Unfortunately, we are unable to accept applications from oversea readers at this time but are considering extending this in the future. But if you are based on the island of Ireland and want to join our reviewers list, you can do so here: https://paperlanternslit.com/apply-to-be-a-reviewer/

It all started last year. Grace, Amy and I met during our master’s degree in children’s literature in Trinity College Dublin. It was Grace’s idea, she noticed that there was a gap in the Irish market for a journal dedicated to teen and YA literature. While the literary journal scene is vibrant in Ireland, most were aimed towards an adult audience. There were some that focused on children’s literature, such as the Children’s Book Ireland Inis Magazine and The Caterpillar, and while they included some teen and YA literature, they focus largely on content for a younger audience. Grace approached Amy and I with her idea and of course we were eager to be involved.

The YA scene is certainly gaining more and more traction in Ireland in the last few years. We have incredible YA authors such as Sarah Maria Griffin, Deirdre Sullivan, Sarah Crossan, Claire Hennessy and plenty more. There are some really wonderful YA-based events such as Eason’s DeptCon and The Lit Festival (which is run by teenagers!). We are glad to be a part of this growing community and hope we can offer something new to it.

Thank you for asking! We host a book club each season with every new issue of Paper Lanterns. The book club is divided into two parts: books for older teens and books for younger teens. Teen and YA books can differ drastically in terms of appropriate content that depends on the maturity of the reader. We wanted to make sure that there was something for everyone; that the older teens didn’t have to read something that was a bit too young for them, and our younger teens had something to read that had content that is more appropriate. We don’t impose any age restrictions on the book; we trust our readers to determine themselves what kind of book they are ready to read. Of course, they are very much welcome to read both if they would like to!

Due to COVID-19, all book club discussions will be held online. We will be posting questions / prompts on our social media, and welcome people to engage with the discussion there. We are looking to develop this in the future, where we can host the club in real-time to encourage more engaging conversations.

We decide what books to read by hosting a poll on our social media and Goodreads. We select a few books for the older teens and again for the younger teens, and let our audience vote on what they’d like to read from this list. Last season’s books were Extraordinary Birds by Sandy Stark-McGinnis and The Deathless Girls by Kiran Millwood Hargrave. This month, we are excited to announce our selected books are Flying Tips for Flightless Birds by Kelly McCaughrain and Queen of Coin and Whispers by Helen Corcoran.

An excellent question! So, our submission process involves a blind reading. We don’t know the name of or any information about the writers when reading their submissions, in an attempt to make it a fair reading. However, we recognise that does not directly support the projection of marginalised voices. We are eager to find ways to further promote “own voices” stories in what we decide to publish, and to encourage Black, POC, and LBGTQIA+ creators to submit to the journal. We can certainly do better, and we intend to going forward.

A small effort we made to include marginalised voices for issue two was with our book club. We specifically curated a list of books that had LBGTQIA+, POC or Black representation and let our readers vote on this list. Ultimately, the books that were selected are both LBGTQIA+ stories, both from Irish authors.

We love the art and photography submissions so much! We are repeatedly blown away by the standard and creativity shown in the artwork. In particular, we are really impressed by the quality of art and photography submitted by our teen contributors, who are often on par, if not more impressive, than those submitted by our adult contributors. It really showcases that age does not refine the quality of your work; a sentiment which can apply to anyone at any age!

But yes, we accept artwork and photography. The submission process is the same as the writing submissions. We accept all types of art; pencil, painting, ink, collage, black and white photography, portrait, landscape, anything at all really! To submit your artwork, visit: https://paperlanternslit.com/submissions/

One of the most exciting part of production and design is when we decide the cover art for each issue. Issue One’s cover is a beautiful, colourful painting “le gente es colorida” by Allie Rafferty, and Issue Two’s cover is a fantastically creative collage “No Pandemic Holidays” by Agata Tryhubbczak. So, if you’re an artist or photographer, we’d love to hear from you as well!

We are hosting a flash fiction competition! If you have time to spare over the next few days you should enter our Right Here, Right Now flash fiction competition. There is a small entry of €3.00 (roughly £2.70) and all proceeds go directly towards our production costs and paying our contributors. The winning entries will receive a prize of €15.00 (roughly £13.50) and their work will be published on our website. The competition closes in three days on July 13th. For more information and to submit you can visit our website at:


Good luck!

Thank you for reading this Q&A and thank you so much to Ruth Ennis and Paper Lanterns for this wonderful opportunity, it was so lovely working with you! If you love the sound of Paper Lanterns then make sure to check out their website and get involved with their submissions, book club and competition! Also you can find me on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram! ❤️

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