Getting into writing – an interview with Lynsey Morandin, Jeremy Bronaugh & Madeline Anthes of Hypertrophic Press

12 issues

Hypertrophic Press is an indie micro press based in Huntsville, AL. The press publishes novels, short story collections, poetry collections, and a quarterly literary magazine called Hypertrophic Literary. It’s headed up by Editor-in-Chief Lynsey Morandin, Creative Director Jeremy Bronaugh, and Acquisitions Editor Madeline Anthes. As a whole, we really like stories that make us cry, dachshunds, and hotdogs.

Why did you start your publication?

Lynsey: Initially we started the press as a way to publish Jeremy’s novel, When You Bleed to Death. I had gone to school for book publishing, and he had been trying to convince me to start a lit mag with him for a while. When I finally agreed to the press, he basically said, “Well, if we have a press, we might as well have a lit mag too,” and so I finally acquiesced. I knew how much work it was going to be, but I’m honestly so happy that he convinced me to start Hypertrophic.

Jeremy: The lit mag was founded to give a voice to new and underrepresented writers. Our goal was always to treat writers and artists with respect and include them in a product they could be proud of.

What is the most gratifying element of publishing the written word?

Maddie: If I had to say the most gratifying part of publishing writing in general, then I’d say seeing the way the words speak to people, the way the artwork pairs with the words to create a more powerful reading experience, and the pride that contributors feel when they see their writing in print.  But, if I’m answering what’s gratifying about the written word rather than other forms, then I’d say it’s gratifying making an idea more permanent and seeing something sacred and intimate become accessible.

L: Definitely getting to see our contributors’ excitement once their issue comes out and they can see their name in print. It makes me so so happy to give other writers a venue to express themselves and their voice.

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What are your happiest memories in your writing/publishing career?

J: Representing Christopher D. DiCicco and Shea Stripling at their book launches was the most gratifying experience to come out of Hypertrophic for me.

M: I feel happy whenever I see authors get hyped about their acceptances on Twitter, or share pictures of their work when we’ve published them. Really, we’re in this to share beauty, so I feel happy when I see other people experiencing that joy.

L: My happiest memory for Hypertrophic is when I found out we had been featured in Poets & Writers as one of the top nine new lit mags to read. I went to Barnes & Noble and bought 5 copies immediately. Plus it has been such a pleasure to have Maddie come aboard at Hypertrophic and to get to work with her. Originally it was just me and Jeremy holding down the fort, and then we met Maddie at Chris DiCicco’s book launch and she said she wanted to join the team. Now she’s an integral part of the press and one of my closest friends.

How do you handle success and failure?

J: Poorly.

Me:  I don’t really know how to answer this. If it’s asking how we handle Hypertrophic’s success and failure, I think we do it quite well. After we were mentioned in Poets and Writers, we got a flood of submissions and it was awesome. Have we failed? I don’t know. I think we do the best we can with certain difficulties, but I don’t think we’ve failed. This is a terrible answer.

L: I’m going to answer this question as if it refers to my own writing career. I think as a writer who is seeking publication you just have to get used to rejection; it’s inevitable and every other writer, no matter how amazing they are, gets rejected every once in a while. I take my moment of disappointment and then I try to remind myself that my piece isn’t necessarily bad, but it just isn’t right for that publication. Of course there is always room for reflection and improvement, but I’ve been told that certain works are “undeveloped” and then I’ve gotten another email the next day from a different magazine that raves about the piece and seems genuinely excited about it. It’s so important to find the right venue and audience for your work and to be honest with yourself when one magazine just isn’t it.

What makes you write when you’re exhausted and your fingers ache?

L: Oh, I’m awful because I just don’t. I’m one of those writers who definitely does not write every day. I have to be seriously motivated in order to produce anything. I can go weeks or sometimes months without feeling inspired, but then one phrase will come to me and I’ll need to write in that moment. There are people who are able to stick to a routine and produce something every single day, and I applaud those people and am insanely envious of them. There are also people like me who write way less often. Both are valid; it’s just about what makes you comfortable.

J: Sometimes I’m haunted by an idea and can’t move on with my life until I’ve got it out.

Me: First of all, I’m always exhausted. Also, I don’t really write for that long at once, to be honest. This question implies a marathon of writing until I’m in pain, and I just don’t write that way. I write in bursts and between activities, and then go back to rewrite and add to stories later. But if this question is asking what drives my need to write, my answer is similar to Jeremy’s. I get a memory or a first line or a picture stuck in my head, and I write a story around it.  Mostly, I want to honor those moments of living and make them last.

What is your advice to young and new writers?

L: Read! I think the best thing you can do if you want to write is 100% to read. Read books, read short stories, read poetry. Read authors you love and authors you’ve never heard of. Read as much as you possibly can.

J: If it is something that you’re passionate about, keep going no matter what and never stop trying to grow.

M:  Use other writers for inspiration, but write like yourself. Tell the story you came to tell, and tell it how you want. Don’t listen to the “rules” that are echoed over and over again. If we all did, we’d be reading the same masculine bland crap over and over.

Are you a traditionalist or a digital? (paper or eBook)

M: Depends on what I’m reading. I like the accessibility of online pubs, and the way I can pack 10 books on one Kindle when I’m traveling. But I love turning real pages too. And yes, I like the smell. How boring of me.

L: I’m definitely a paperback girl when it comes to books. Nothing beats the feel of paper and the sound of flipping a page. But I read a lot of lit mags on my phone, so I think there’s a place for both formats.

Do you blog?

M: Do you even blog, bro? No, the answer is I do not. I do love reading other peoples’ tinyletters, though. Leesa Cross-Smith’s Kitchen Music is my favorite.

L: I don’t anymore, but I did a very long time ago and that’s actually how me and Jeremy met. We were both on tumblr and he was advertising his then-self-published book; I read his interview and bought the book. I wrote to him to tell him how much I loved it, but said that he needed an editor badly. The rest is history! I guess you can say that without tumblr there would be no Hypertrophic.

If you have a publication or promotion – tell us.

L: Well, Hypertrophic Literary’s newest issue, winter 2017, comes out the first week of December and we’re SO proud of all the amazing content in this one. Plus the artwork by the fabulous Anna Dittmann is just stunning. On the other side of our press we also have a novel about a high school senior whose girlfriend commits suicide (When You Bleed to Death, Jeremy Bronaugh), a magical realism short story collection with some of the best short stories I’ve ever read in my life (So My Mother, She Lives in the Clouds, Christopher D. DiCicco), and a poetry collection about Bill Murray (No One Will Ever Believe You, Shea Stripling) that we just released in 2017. You can find info on all our books and mags at hypertrophicpress.com!

BONUS QUESTION: What types of stories would you like to see more of and what are you tired of seeing?

M: I’d like to see more diverse voices and weird experimental writing. I want to see more risk. This is a personal preference, but less stories set in bars, less hangover tales, less “I drank until I blacked out and now I’m doing drugs” because it seems masculine and cool to write about that. I’m over it.  I’d like to see less graphic and gratuitous descriptions of women’s genitalia, and no more stories that glorify rape or abuse ever ever ever thanks.

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