Interview With Paper Lanterns!

Image Credit: Eleanor Brayden 

Today on the blog, we have an interview with Paper Lanterns, a new, independent journal focused on all things regarding teens and YA literature. This is such a special and exciting project, so today we're interviewing Ruth, one of the Paper Lanterns staff members, to give some insight into the project and where eager readers can find it! So without further ado, let's get into it:

Cover Artwork: “la gente es colorida” by Allie Rafferty, designed by Fiachra Johnston

From Ruth: Paper Lanterns is a new literary journal, founded in January of this year by Grace Kelley, Amy O’Sullivan and me, Ruth Ennis. Based in Dublin, Ireland, we aim to promote the voices of young people 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.
Keep up with Paper Lanterns: Website / Twitter / Instagram / Facebook / YouTube / Goodreads

The Book Bratz: First of all, what exactly is Paper Lanterns?
Ruth: Paper Lanterns is a new literary journal, founded in January of this year by Grace Kelley, Amy O’Sullivan and me, Ruth Ennis. Based in Dublin, Ireland, we aim to promote the voices of young people 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 into 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.
The Book Bratz: What made you decide to start Paper Lanterns?
Ruth: It all started last year. Grace, Amy and I met during our masters 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. So, on New Year’s Day 2020, we launched our website and announced we were open for submissions. We accept poems, flash fiction, short stories, essays, artwork and photography from anyone over the age of thirteen (adults included!). Our only criteria is that the content is suitable for a teenage audience. The primary goal of Paper Lanterns is to project the voices of young creatives and to highlight topics that are important to them. 

The Book Bratz: What are some of the features that were in the latest edition of Paper Lanterns? 
Ruth: Our features section for issue one had an interesting array of topics! Our big author interview was with Sarah Crossan, who recently completed her term as Laureate na nÓg (Children’s Literature Laureate). We spoke to her about her time as the Laureate, her experience writing verse novels, and her transition from teen to adult literature. We also interviewed bookseller Karina Clifford, who is the creator of the #ReadIrishWomenChallenge. This online challenge is a daily prompt for the month of April to celebrate books written and illustrated by Irish women. We also had an insightful article by Ben Screech discussing the representation of mental health in teen and YA literature, both in contemporary literature and texts from the twentieth century. Lastly, our junior essayist Rebecca Downey wrote an empowering piece about her idol, ballerina Michaela DePrince, and the importance of diverse representation in the books she reads. 
In our creative writing section, we had lots of inspiring work from the under-eighteen category with topics of environmentalism, ghost stories, and that warm feeling of curling up with a good book. We also had fantastical tales of teenage queens, the love of the arts, and poignant stories about body image. We had an exciting range of book reviews from both teen and adult readers. There are some well-known titles from the past year, as well as the latest and upcoming titles you won’t want to miss. Our reviews section has an informative content warning guide to help teen readers navigate content best suited for them.
The Book Bratz: What was your biggest struggle when deciding to start Paper Lanterns?
Ruth: I think I’d have to say CoVid-19 was our biggest challenge! When we started out in January, nothing could have prepared us for the complications that arose due to the pandemic. We originally planned to publish issue one in March, but as Ireland entered lockdown, it just wasn’t feasible. Instead we published in April, in a way we never expected. We hosted an online launch on YouTube (you can watch it here), that was exciting to figure out and arrange! But we are in awe of the support we’ve seen from enthusiasts of the journal, from those who donated to our fundraisers, to those who pre-ordered issue one, to the bookshops who stocked the journal and have made it available to their local area. Small businesses like ours rely on the goodwill of those who are eager to support us: we wouldn’t be here without them. 

The Book Bratz: What's your dream feature? (Ex. A book/topic you'd love to cover, an author you'd like to work with, etc.)
Ruth: Great question! It’s a tough one, but I would love to attend the Young Adult Literature Convention in London and cover it for the journal. I’m told it’s the place to be for anyone who enjoys teen and YA literature. There’s a real buzz that comes from cons like these, and I’d love to get the chance to see what makes YALC so special. 
In terms of an author I’d love to interview, I think I’d have to say Suzanne Collins. This is probably because The Hunger Games are at the forefront of my mind, due to an upcoming feature in issue two on the topic, as well as the release of The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes earlier this month. Though I don’t know if I would have any insightful questions to ask, other than “how did you make them so good?”! 
We’ve been getting submissions looking to cover some really interesting topics! There is a real mix of wanting to analyse different themes in books, both contemporary and older texts: for example, mental health, representation, nostalgia, and interconnected literary mediums. I’ve no doubt that we will continue to see never-ending creativity from those who submit as they explore and discover teen and YA literature. 

The Book Bratz: Where can interested readers check out Paper Lanterns?
Ruth: Check us out online!

You can order a copy of issue one here (we ship internationally!):

The Book Bratz: If readers want to submit to Paper Lanterns, how can they do so?
Ruth: We’d love to receive your submissions! We will be reopening submissions for issue three in late July / early August. We accept poetry, flash fiction, short stories, essay proposals, artwork and photography from anyone over the age of thirteen, from anywhere in the world, and there is no entry fee. Our only criteria is that is it suitable for a teenage audience. For more details and to submit, you can visit our website at:
If you can’t wait to send something into us, then you should enter our Right Here, Right Now flash fiction competition. There is a small entry of €3.00 (roughly $3.40) and all proceeds go directly towards our production costs and paying our contributors. The winning entries will receive a prize of €15.00 (roughly $17.00) and their work will be published on our website. The competition closes on July 13th. For more information and to submit you can visit our website at:

Good luck!

Thank you so much to Ruth for stopping by and answering our questions! We are super excited about Paper Lanterns, and if you are too, you can check it out here!

Also, here's the information for the Right Here, Right Now flash fiction competition in case you want to check that out as well:

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