March 24, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Nova Ren Suma and Emily X.R. Pan Launch a Platform for YA Short Stories

What happens when two YA authors get together and brainstorm ways to provide a venue for YA short stories from established and up-and-coming authors? They collaborate and create an online publication to fill that gap. Emily X.R. Pan, author of the upcoming The Astonishing Color of After (Little, Brown), and Nova Ren Suma, author of the New York Times best-selling The Walls Around Us (Algonquin) recently debuted FORESHADOW: A Serial YA Anthology in November 2017, and are already on their way to make a strong impression on the YA community. The editors-in-chief of this venture share what inspired this new platform and their future plans.

What is FORESHADOW and how is it different?

Emily X.R. Pan: There are so few Internet venues for publishing YA short stories out there—so we decided to create one. FORESHADOW: A Serial YA Anthology is more than a YA literary magazine. It is a new online format that will publish three short stories a month over the course of a single year, and an exciting venue for YA writers and readers alike. It’s very important to us that we pay our contributors, which is something many literary magazines are unable to do—especially the ones that are online only. By making this an anthology with a finite number of pieces and a definitive publication schedule, we can set specific fundraising goals in order to pay our writers.

Nova Ren Suma: The other big piece of this project is that we’ll be asking established authors to select, introduce, and hopefully elevate new writers, and we’re especially committed to outreach to find underrepresented voices in YA. We hope this will be an opportunity for undiscovered creators to make a splashy debut into the publishing world and get on the radar. As foreshadowing in storytelling is a way of imagining and prefiguring what’s to come, we’re hoping the new writers that readers will discover in our serial anthology will be authors whose books they’ll covet tomorrow.

What a wonderful idea and partnership! How did the two of you meet and decide to start this venture?

Nova: I first connected with Emily through her writing—I was lucky to have an early read of her gorgeous YA debut, The Astonishing Color of After, before she signed with an agent. I was such a fan that I invited her to be part of a panel I was moderating at the AWP (Association of Writers & Writing Programs) Conference in 2017 called “The Book of Your Heart.” It was during our train ride to the conference in Washington, DC, when we discovered we both had a dream to start a YA-specific literary magazine. We talked for hours and realized we could create something incredible together. With her experience running an online literary magazine (Bodega Magazine, for which she was founding editor-in-chief), our similar taste in books, and our shared desire to make this happen for the YA community, I knew she would be the ideal partner.

Emily: I’m a long-time admirer of Nova’s and her incredible books, and I believe we first became connected via the magic that is Twitter. We quickly discovered we have very similar taste in stories—and in the changes we wanted to affect within the literary world. When we had our first official meeting to dream up ideas for this project, we ended up talking for five hours, and over blintzes and French toast we nailed down the foundational concepts that would become FORESHADOW. We were so inspired and energized we spent the next couple of weeks working days and nights to set ourselves up for our soft launch. The response from the online YA community has already been amazing. We’re also happy to have an advisor for this project in Michael Bourret at Dystel, Goderich & Bourret, who represents both of us as authors and who has been guiding us as we move forward.

Can you share some of the authors/contributors who have already expressed interest in participating?

Emily: FORESHADOW will be publishing established, beloved YA authors as well as emerging YA authors and, in every issue, a voice new to the publishing world. We’re thrilled that we’ve already got a star-studded lineup of initial authors who will be featured in different capacities. A selection of names that we’re excited to be able to share at this early stage include: Becky Albertalli, Laurie Halse Anderson, Roshani Chokshi, Dhonielle Clayton, Brandy Colbert, Stephanie Kuehn, Nina LaCour, Justine Larbalestier, Malinda Lo, Samantha Mabry, Bennett Madison, Adam Silvera, Cynthia Leitich Smith, Courtney Summers, Rita Williams-Garcia, Wendy Xu, and Nicola Yoon.

What is the submissions and selection process going to be like?

Nova: We are wide open to submissions from all writers, at any point in their careers, who are telling stories in the young adult category. We are hoping that publishing some already well-loved YA authors will offer a huge boost for the brand-new and up-and-coming writers being featured alongside them. And we are aggressively reaching out to try to find that new talent. Currently we are working on putting together an entire staff of fellow volunteers to help in every aspect of the publishing process, including selection. Our hope is to have a team of slush readers and to get multiple reads on every story, funneling the top picks up to the fiction editors and ourselves to finally be acquired, edited, copyedited, and then published. For the “new voice” selection, we will use this same process to collect our absolute favorite stories to send on to a beloved author, who will then choose the piece that speaks to them the most. That lucky “new voice” will then be introduced as having been specially selected by said author, offering a magical opportunity.

Are there specific genres that you’ll be focusing on?

Emily: We will be publishing YA short stories of all genres. That means we are open to everything from contemporary realistic to fantasy to historical to you name it, plus all the exciting ways YA is known to blend and blur genres. Each issue will ideally feature a mix of genres, something for everyone. We are particularly struck by strong voices, inventive storytelling, and beautiful writing. At the end of the day, we’re just looking for good YA stories. To us, that’s all that matters.

How will these stories be distributed to readers? Via newsletter? Download?

Nova: Every month for the single year of 2019 we will publish a new issue on, featuring three stellar YA stories. Newsletter subscribers will also receive a notice when the new issue is up, and we’ll make sure each issue can easily be printed or read offline. We want the issues to be as accessible as possible. We hope that teachers will share the issues with their students and that librarians will make them available to teen patrons—not to mention those of us who may want to devour a good YA short story on our phones while on the bus or subway on the way to work or school.

Why do you think the short story form is so underrated?

Emily: Just about every storyteller begins with short pieces, whether those are told orally, written for a school assignment, or created simply to entertain themselves. We think it’s one of the most important forms of fiction. From a craft standpoint, it’s how you learn to shape characters, and figure out what a full story arc looks like. For the aspiring novelist, writing short stories is excellent practice to build up the skills for finishing a book-length project. In many ways, short stories are harder to write, precisely because they have to be so self-contained. So we both have a deep admiration for those who pull it off well. And many agent friends have told us that they read short stories in search of new talent. Most of the time, those stories are published in a venue specifically for the adult literary market—so it’s very exciting to us, this idea that perhaps we can create a place for agents to discover new YA talent.

There’s been an uptick in YA anthologies being published. Are they making a comeback?

Nova: There are incredible YA anthologies being published today—proving short stories are appreciated all the more right now, making this the perfect moment to launch our project. FORESHADOW is a different kind of anthology than YA readers may be used to. First, we’re online, and also we’re just as committed to publishing never-before-heard-from voices as we are authors that readers will recognize. We call ourselves a “serial anthology” and not a magazine because we plan to publish monthly for only a single year. We simply believe there should be more venues for YA short fiction, especially for new writers who don’t get solicited for these amazing anthologies (and I say that as a lucky contributor to a few!). Both of us had our first breaks publishing stories in literary journals—this could be the first break for someone else.

When will we see the first issue of FORESHADOW and how can we support your project?

Emily: We’ve launched our preliminary website at, and we encourage everyone to go check it out. There, we have our mission statement, submission guidelines, FAQ, and a call for staff, as we’re seeking volunteers to join us to make this happen. Then in summer 2018, we will publish issue zero, the debut showcase issue of FORESHADOW: A Serial YA Anthology online, featuring our first three stellar YA short stories.

Nova: Around that same time in summer 2018, we’re launching our fund-raising campaign. We hope the YA and children’s industry will come out in force to support this project and our commitment to pay all our contributors. In the meantime, we can be found on Twitter at @foreshadowYA. Librarians and teachers are welcome to reach out to both of us at with any questions or advice for outreach so we can make this accessible and enticing for their teen readers and students. And writers: please consider sending us a story!

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Shelley Diaz About Shelley Diaz

Shelley M. Diaz ( is School Library Journal's Reviews Team Manager and SLJTeen newsletter editor. She has her MLIS in Public Librarianship with a Certificate in Children’s & YA Services from Queens College, and can be found on Twitter @sdiaz101.

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