FLUSHING, NY, March 18, 2013—It’s the perfect match.
Queens College’s MFA writing program identifies and cultivates talented writers. Paper Lantern Lit, a company that develops young adult literary properties and markets them to commercial publishers, is a self-described literary incubator for undiscovered writers.
A new fellowship offered by Paper Lantern Lit for an emerging writer in Queens College’s MFA writing program brings the two organizations together in mutually beneficial ways. First-year fiction student Jamie Hittman is the first recipient.
“We are thrilled to foster an interest in children’s books in one of the newest, diverse, and most dynamic MFA programs in New York City,” says Lexa Hillyer, a co-founder of Paper Lantern Lit. Both Hillyer and her business partner and Paper Lantern Lit co-founder, Lauren Oliver, hold MFAs themselves, and are committed to promoting young adult and middle grade literature within the academic world of creative writing.
“We see this as an opportunity to bridge the often significant gap between MFA program participants and the world of commercial publishing,” adds Lauren Oliver.
To win the fellowship, Hittman submitted an application to the program and wrote an essay for consideration. ‘I thought the opportunity was so exciting I couldn’t pass it up,” says the 24-year-old. It certainly helps that “I still read young adult and teen books. I really like them. They’re incredibly entertaining and fun.”
Hittman, who was raised in Columbia, Maryland, and has a BA in psychology from Johns Hopkins University, is also applying to medical school. “I didn’t get to major in writing,” says Hittman. Coming to New York and studying at Queens (she lives at The Summit residence hall) allows her to pursue “one of my biggest passions.”
The fellowship covers spring tuition and also provides a stipend for her living expenses.
As part of the fellowship, Hittman works for Paper Lantern Lit about 15 hours a week. She reviews manuscripts, makes recommendations, reads writing samples and submissions from potential authors for the projects, and evaluates which projects would be likely fits for Paper Lantern Lit. Hittman also does fact-checking and other research for current Paper Lantern Lit projects.
As a writer, Hittman looks “for basic stuff—characters I can relate to, efficient, lucid prose. I’m looking for that sweet spot, something vivid, easy to read, exciting.” She also appreciates the opportunity to gain insight into the “inside of the business.”
The recognition is a significant validation for Queens College’s five-year-old MFA writing program, which prides itself on offering students access to the New York literary community.
“It’s particularly exciting to have this partnership,” says Nicole Cooley, Professor of English and Creative Writing at Queens College-City University of New York where she directs the MFA program in Creative Writing and Literary Translation. “We love developing a relationship with such a new and innovative company. Paper Lantern is a dynamic organization, and we are thrilled that Jamie has this wonderful opportunity. Children’s literature and young adult literature are really current in today’s literary marketplace.”
The Queens College MFA Program in Creative Writing and Literary Translation, introduced in fall 2007, is the newest of CUNY’s MFA programs. Directed by poet Nicole Cooley, it is one of only two in the country to include literary translation as a parallel track—a reflection of the international atmosphere of the campus and its home borough. Faculty members are all award-winning writers dedicated to teaching. Students also benefit from access to the wider arts community that is New York City. For more information, visit www.qc.cuny.edu/Creative_Writing