On Monday, February 22, in the midst of midterms and madness, the Writers House welcomed Megan Brothers, author of young-adult novels Weird Girl and What’s His Name, Debbie Harry Sings in French, and Supergirl Mixtapes. Brothers is the winner of the GLBT Round Table ALA Award and has been nominated for the YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults award. She was joined by recent F&M alumnae Constance Renfrow ’12, editor for Three Rooms Press, and Rachel Gold ’12, media consultant for Three Rooms Press.
It was Brothers’s most recent novel, Weird Girl and What’s His Name, that brought the three together. One night, after a feminist poetry workshop, the director of Three Rooms Press approached Brothers about her manuscript. The publishing house had been looking to move in a new direction and Weird Girl and What’s His Name seemed like the perfect catalyst. The manuscript was passed to Renfrow, who recognized the uniqueness and potential of the novel.
Weird Girl and What’s His Name answers the call for real substance and emotion at a pivotal era in history. Rachel Gold argues that in the midst of social awakening, “people want to see characters that struggle with things they can identify.” Brothers’ coming-of-age novel meets the demands of a new generation and is rich with many current issues: LGBTQ, inclusion, and equality, among others.
The novel has benefited from the help of Three Rooms Press, a small publishing house located in New York. During Brothers’ conversation at the Writers House, she spoke in length about the power of small publishing houses.
“It’s the smaller houses that really fight and advocate on behalf of your art,” said Brothers, who appreciates the attention and voice that Third Room Press has provided.
Gold, who formerly worked at Random House, notes that working within a smaller firm allows her get to know the author and market the book with a passion that is just not possible at a larger house.
Renfrow agrees: “it’s hard to put so much work into a book you truly believe in, one that ultimately, no one at the company will read—that no one will read—because no one is pushing for it.”
Perhaps this offers a glimpse into the hidden wonderland of the literary world. We cannot rely on the big names or big business to bring our art to life. We must look to the smaller compatriots who can passionately advocate for our work, our voice, and our vision.
Lydia Storey ‘17 is a Writers House student staff member.