Like any adolescent, the face of One Teen Story is changing fast. Just a year old, the monthly magazine of short fiction for young people is getting a new editor-in-chief: Patrick Ryan, 47, was the associate editor of Granta from 2009 to 2013. He left the London-based literary journal last month in The Great Exodus that included John Freeman and other staffers.
Editing One Teen Story — the younger sibling of One Story magazine — will offer Ryan a chance to reach a whole new audience. “It’s really the only venue for young adult short fiction,” he says from his office in New York. “It’s tremendously exciting that there are younger people out there who have subscriptions and look forward to getting these stories once a month. That form is usually only presented when it’s shoved down their throats in schools.”
Designed for readers 14 and up, One Teen Story publishes nine issues a year. Like its parent magazine, it doesn’t carry photographs or advertising. It’s just exactly what it says: one story per issue.
Ryan says young people are “looking for engaging reads about people whom they can identify with. It’s not about having a message or the positive spin. It always starts on a character level, and it has to have an interesting story. If you look at the ‘Twilight’ characters and the ‘Harry Potter’ characters, they feel very contemporary.”
Ryan knows what he’s talking about because he’s written for this market himself. In addition to publishing a collection of short stories for adults, he’s the author of three novels for young adults: “Saints of Augustine,” “In Mike We Trust” and “Gemini Bites.”
Unsurprisingly, one of his major goals will be to increase exposure for One Teen Story. “I would love to see the subscription level that we have double in two years,” he says. “It would just be great to see many more readers.” Tell me about it….
More outreach to schools will be essential, and he plans to pursue that audience aggressively. “With the Internet, it’s possible to arrange things like ‘meet the author’ or to have students read a story, and then I’m thinking the author would be thrilled to have a phone call with the classroom. I think there’s great potential for making these young readers feel that there’s some interaction going on. And if it makes people want to keep reading words once they get out of school, then what a great thing.”
Ryan also sees the magazine as a way to encourage talented authors. “I would love to make One Teen Story the first publication for a writer or writers who then go on and keep at this business. I just really love the idea that this magazine would be the starting point for somebody — would be the push to make a talented writer feel that it was worth keeping at this.”
To help make that miracle happen, One Teen Story has three readers who comb through unsolicited manuscripts. “We don’t have an age requirement or a previously-published-track-record requirement,” Ryan says. “I have every intention that — just as I always did at Granta — we’ll approach every submission with the same reverence. We didn’t sit up and pay more attention just because something came from an agent or a big name. We just read the work. I want to bring the same criteria to this.”
In a statement issued Monday, One Story founder Hannah Tinti said, “Patrick Ryan understands both sides of the publishing desk — as an editor and also a writer. He played a huge part in raising Granta’s profile over the past few years, and is a force for good in the literary world. We’re so lucky to have him joining us.”
One Story, Inc. is a nonprofit supported by subscriptions, donations and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, NYSCA and Amazon.
If you’re an English teacher, a school librarian or the parent of a teen who likes to read, subscribe here now. This is an organization with exceptionally good taste that’s fighting the good fight.