Spring 2018 Interns

Meet the Interns – Spring 2018

We have a fresh new batch of interns coming on board this spring. They will be joining the team assembled last fall, sans Rachael, who has graduated and moved onto the big wide open world.

Despite the program only being about 4 years old, each of our new interns is pursing a degree in English with a Publishing Emphasis. There also seem to be some pet lovers among the bunch!

Let’s get to know our new recruits!


Ashley Thorpe

. . . is a senior at MSUM majoring in English with an Emphasis in Publishing. She hopes to work as an editor at a major publishing company after graduation. This is her first semester interning at New Rivers Press and is very excited to get more hands-on experience. Ashley is very passionate (not obsessed!) with Taylor Swift, cats, and reading. In her free time, you can find her on Twitter, watching New Girl for the fifth time, or forcing cuddle time with her cat.


Kendra Johnson

. . . is a senior at MSUM seeking a degree in English with an Emphasis in Publishing and a Writing Minor. She grew up reading everything she could get her hands on and always knew she had a passion for books. When she is not working or interning for New Rivers Press, she is spending her time playing with her dog (AKA the cutest dog on the planet), cheering on the Minnesota Vikings, or enduring the excruciatingly long wait for the last season of Game of Thrones. She is excited to graduate in the spring and hopefully find a job in the Fargo/Moorhead area.



Trevor Fellow . . .

is a senior at MSUM, studying English with an Emphasis on Publishing. He finds himself habitually correcting people’s pronunciation and spelling, even when he knows he oughtn’t, and insists on proper grammar and syntax at all times—whether that’s at the keyboard or on his old-timey dumbphone (“I’m not ignoring you, it just takes forever to type out ‘magnanimous’!”). He likes unusual stories that fuel the imagination, and is particularly fond of Watership DownAmerican Gods, and anything written by the late, great Sir Terry Pratchett. He discovered a passion for words at a young age, and at a slightly less young age discovered that what he really likes is helping other people with their words. He loves working for NRP, and hopes to use the experience to find a similar job elsewhere in the field.

Its great to see another bunch of enthusiastic students joining the NRP crew. Best of luck this spring!

Interviews with Book Designers

The newest book season is upon us. In the coming weeks, New Rivers Press will be releasing six fabulous new books, varied in genre and tone, but nonetheless bursting with artistry and insight. Whereas much time and many pixels have been spent on this blog detailing the involvement of students in the production of our books as content editors, relatively little has been used to demonstrate the ways MSUM design students contribute to our books.

The Design Process

Each year, MSUM design students are paired up with an upcoming New Rivers Press release. The design process is largely a group effort: the design students are coached by NRP’s managing editor and their own design professor, in addition to being advised by the student editor team assigned to their book as well as the author. However it is up to the design students themselves to identify the most important and pertinent aspects of the books in order to bring to life a cover that is not only enticing to readers but representative of the author’s vision.


This post is meant to offer these students a mouth piece to describe their invaluable contributions as designers of not only the covers but interior layouts of our books. If you wish to learn more about the designers personally, you can read their bios here.


Phuriwat “Fuse” Chiraphisit
American Fiction Volume 16

American Fiction Volume 16 is a continuation of New Rivers Press’ long-running short-story anthology. Writers hail from all around the globe and are of diverse ages and backgrounds. There is no theme for submissions, though sometimes unique themes have a way of appearing once all the final stories are chosen. This years stories could loosely be tied together with themes of identity, family life, and evolving relationships.


1) What was your vision for the cover you designed?
What stood out to me was how ordinary the lives in the stories are, with a twisted sense of reality hidden in there somewhere. So I thought I’d show a reality that is slightly twisted for the cover.

2) How did that vision change or evolve throughout the process?
After I had the initial concept, the challenge was finding the right imagery to support that concept. I was experimenting with reflections and shadows.

3) What elements from the book itself did you try to incorporate in your design?
The houses were added into the photograph to add a sense of family, livelihood, and domestic conflicts.

4) What was the most challenging aspect of the design process for you?
The most challenging part was finding a common theme between all the stories and representing them with a single image.

5) What was something you found rewarding about the process?
The most rewarding moment was receiving the unedited version of the real book. It’s always fun seeing designs and concepts come to life after working on them on the computer.

6) Is there anything special or hidden in the cover that you hope people notice?
If you stand back far enough, the cover may look like an old-fashioned book cover with tape binding, but as you get closer, you realize it’s a photograph, twisted, rotated, and yet oddly welcoming.

Brittany Shultz
Boy Into Panther

Boy Into Panther is a collection of fourteen short stories varied in theme, setting, and character. Each is filled with emotion and keen observations on the nature of being human.

1) What was your vision for the cover you designed?
My vision for the cover design was to keep it dark and mysterious so people would be more drawn to look closer to the cover while also wanting to read what it’s about.2) How did that vision change or evolve throughout the process?
I originally started with two different designs. One was a rustic design with a black background and a portion of wood along with dust particles. The other design that we went forward with was a simplistic modern design with a black background and specific pieces placed in chevrons leading into the book.3) What elements from the book itself did you try to incorporate in your design?
I included broken glass, flames, wood, and mushrooms.4) What was the most challenging aspect of the design process for you?
The most challenging part was to come up with a design that would try incorporate all of the short stories and not focus on just one main story.5) What was something you found rewarding about the process?
The whole process felt like a reward. Having the ability to design a cover of a great short story book for the first time was an amazing experience.6) Is there anything special or hidden in the cover that you hope people notice?
As mentioned above, the chevrons on the front cover are subtle, but when you look closely you can notice some of the details of the flames, mushroom, broken glass, and wood.

Emily Zaharia
Deep Calls to Deep

Deep Calls to Deep is a collection of poetry which intertwines family life and biblical narrative. Set against the rich backdrop of Israel, the collection draws from thousands of years of history from its ancient deserts to its contemporary scenes of war.


1) What was your vision for the cover you designed?
I first researched images of Jerusalem, as that is where the poems take place for the most part. I compiled many images and gathered three primary colors that I saw in all of the photos. A deep blue, orange, and yellow. I used those colors to represent an over-simplified landscape of the setting; sky, city, and desert. While playing with the words in the title I noticed that [the word] ‘deep’ is basically the same flipped upside down, which was really fun. That played off of the idea of alternatives and reality in the artist’s statement I was given.

2) How did that vision change or evolve throughout the process?
I had a strong idea from the start, but getting everything in the exact right place with the perfect colors took some time and development. I also had come up with other designs, and choosing one was part of the process

3) What elements from the book itself did you try to incorporate in your design?
I tried to include the setting of the book somehow, and I did so in a very simplistic way. I also used a texture to represent the desert.

4) What was the most challenging aspect of the design process for you?
The interior of the book was an interesting challenge for me. I learned a lot about setting type.

5) What was something you found rewarding about the process?
Being able to hold a book that I designed in my hands was the most rewarding. I also really enjoyed getting feedback from the author. It was great when she told me that the cover was representative of what she wanted.

6) Is there anything special or hidden in the cover that you hope people notice?
I hope people can understand that the cover is not just stripes, but a setting and a platform to start the poems with before you even open the book.

Kendal Christenson
Tom o’Vietnam

Tom o’Vietnam juxtaposes the life and times of a contemporary American veteran with the experiences of Shakespeare’s King Lear, communicated through a surreal, stream-of-consciousness narrative.

1) What was your vision for the cover you designed?
In the initial design stages I hoped to incorporate a signature style that I have been curating during my attendance at MSUM, a sketchy and grungy approach that has furthered my understanding of design. I wanted the cover to feel individualized to the main character, Tom.

2) How did that vision change or evolve throughout the process?
As I had been designing the book cover last school year, I had also been enrolled in an illustration class. Knowledge from the class furthered my confidence in illustration which shines through in my finalized book cover.

3) What elements from the book itself did you try to incorporate in your design?
I attempted to depict the sheer individualism of Tom himself through handwritten typography and sketches of symbolism throughout the book.

4) What was the most challenging aspect of the design process for you?
Time management! Seemingly always a weakness for myself . . .

5) What was something you found rewarding about the process?
I find it rewarding to say, as a student, I have published work in the world.

6) Is there anything special or hidden in the cover that you hope people notice?
On page 4 of the novel, Tom O’Vietnam, there appears to be an entire page of scribbles and somewhat illegible words, in actuality the typography says, “Freedom is Hell,” a haunting phrase embroidered into the back of Tom’s jacket.


Mandi Wahl
Man of the House

This is a memoir containing short vignettes told in the first person detailing the thoughts and actions of a young boy in the 1950’s as he struggles to assume the mantle of ‘man of the house.’

1) What was your vision for the cover you designed?
My vision was to create a cover that would be meaningful to the stories inside the book as well as creating something that people would want to pick up on a shelf as they were walking by.

2) How did that vision change or evolve throughout the process?
I am very pleased with how the cover evolved through out the whole design process. The cover has special character to make it feel as if it came from a 50’s book chest. I could not be happier with how the cover turned out in the end!

3) What elements from the book itself did you try to incorporate in your design?
I incorporated the time period by making the cover look worn and gave it a look of an old book/newspaper from the 50’s. I also incorporated stamps which was from one of the most important stories in the book that I personally felt represented the lifestyle of the author back when he was a child telling these stories. It had more meaning to it, which is what I wanted for a cover.

4) What was the most challenging aspect of the design process for you?
The most challenging aspect was to visualize what all of this would be looking like when it was printed. There were so many specifications to follow and seeing a flat designing of something is very different from when you get to see it printed and in its true 3D form.

5) What was something you found rewarding about the process?
I have now designed a book for others to pick up and read! I can say, “My name is in the front cover of a book!” I think that is so cool!

6) Is there anything special or hidden in the cover that you hope people notice?
There is nothing hidden in the cover of my book. I hope people enjoy the cover as much as I do.

Christen Nagel
The Way She Told Her Story

The Way She Told Her Story is a collection of poetry beautifully blending natural imagery with the stories, culture, and legacies of Finnish immigrant women.

1) What was your vision for the cover you designed?
My vision was to do my best to accurately portray what the book is about. This was a bit of a challenge since I didn’t know much about Finnish culture. The cover design I spent the most time on was an illustration I did based on the poem “The Way She Told Her Story,” which is also the name of the book. I did my best to research more about Finnish culture for ideas on any relevant graphics I could incorporate. I came across one symbol that seemed like a good fit and used that in another cover design.

2) How did that vision change or evolve throughout the process?
I ended up using the cover with the Finnish symbol. When the author reviewed it, she suggested a different symbol. I recreated the graphic and made a few other suggested revisions.

3) What elements from the book itself did you try to incorporate in your design?
I tried to incorporate graphics related to Finnish culture. I also used illustrations that I did based on photos of Finnish tapestries, which the author had sent me, for my chapter artwork. I used part of one of my chapter illustrations next to the author photo on the back cover.

4) What was the most challenging aspect of the design process for you?
I would say that the most challenging aspect was researching Finnish symbols. Since I didn’t have direct communication with the author, I spent time on Finnish forums trying to make sure that I wasn’t misusing any of the symbols.

5) What was something you found rewarding about the process?
I really like the book, so I’m glad I got to design it. Since it is poetry, I was able to be more creative with my design for the interior. I think designing the interior was my favorite part since the patterns on the Finnish tapestries that I referenced were really fun to work with.

6) Is there anything special or hidden in the cover that you hope people notice?
I just hope people recognize the symbol and that it gives them a good sense of what the book is about.

If you want to read more about our book designers, you can read their bios here.

Alan Davis on His Time with New Rivers

This year, Alan Davis started the transition from senior editor at New Rivers Press to senior editor emeritus. He has also switched his main focus from teaching at MSUM to writing, which he has done on the side for many years. Intern Anna interviewed Davis in February from his sunny perch in Arizona. The following is their full conversation on Davis’ time with the press and plans for future endeavors.

Q: What made you decide to get involved with bringing the press to a new location?
A: I was a New Rivers Press author, a two-time winner of its MVP competition for Rumors from the Lost World in 1993 and Alone with the Owl in 2000. I had also co-edited four volumes of American Fiction for the press (1996-2000). When Bill Truesdale, its beloved, idiosyncratic founder, died in 2001, NRP went into suspension. My colleague Wayne Gudmundson and I negotiated with MSUM [Minnesota State University Moorhead] and with NRP to relocate it to Moorhead in order to save the press. We agreed to make it a teaching press so that students could learn about the publishing business from the inside out, which pleased MSUM, and to honor Truesdale’s primary mission: to publish the best work we could find by new and emerging writers, especially those residing in Minnesota and the upper Midwest. That commitment convinced the NRP board of directors that the press, once revived, would be in good hands.

Q: What was your previous publishing experience before working with New Rivers?
A: New Rivers published my first two books before I was associated with the press. I had reviewed hundreds of books for the New York Times Book Review, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Kirkus Reviews, and elsewhere, co-edited American Fiction for ten years, and published dozens of stories and poems in various literary journals. My colleague, Wayne Gudmundson, had produced books of photography, many of them documentaries that included work by his Mass Communication students.

Q: What was one of the biggest challenges you faced in reinventing the press as a teaching press?
A: Each press has its traditions, its history and, if successful, its unique duende (a distinctive quality of spirit and passion). Our job was to continue to honor NRP’s past while turning the page and incorporating all aspects of operations into a university curriculum while keeping the passion and innovation of an independent press alive. I think we achieved that goal, and I have every reason to believe that the new team, which is in the process of replacing me this semester, will do the same. I’m excited that Kevin Carollo (Senior Editor), Travis Dolence (Director), and Nayt Rundquist (Managing Editor)—the troika—have agreed to band together to run the press, and that President Blackhurst and many other administrators have voiced their support for it to continue, hopefully for many years to come.

Q: What was one unexpected lesson you learned in your time as senior editor?
A: As a leader of a teaching press, I often had to bite my tongue so that others could learn through their mistakes. Without such patience, I might have completed necessary work in solitude and with more precision, but the point of the press is to pass on such work to others so that they can take chances, make mistakes, and learn in the process (and sometimes, of course, do a better job than I would have done). Under supervision, students edit books, design covers, and assist in all the work required to publish and market a book in today’s brave, new world. I always felt blessed to be paid to do such work.

Q: Which of our older titles do you still have a soft spot for?
A: Lisa Gill’s Mortar and Pestle, an astonishing book of poetry written in the aftermath of an MS diagnosis, is a profound work of the imagination that incorporates a great deal of lore and learning. Richard Hoffman’s Half the House, a memoir about many things, but centered on his sexual abuse at the hands of his baseball coach, a serial molester that the book helped bring to justice, is a powerful testament to the ability of literature to witness the world with grace and bravery. Michael Hettich is one of the best poets writing today; it was a pleasure to reach out to him and convince him to work with us to publish Flock and Shadow: New and Selected Poems. When I need a pick-me-up, I often open that book at random and read.

Q: What is the book you most enjoyed working on as senior editor?
A: As a father I do my best not to play favorites between my son and daughter. I feel the same as an editor. There are some books where I worked with the writer on major and substantive revisions; others needed only a minor copy-editing to be proof-ready. The pleasure of seeing the book in print is the same whatever the labor involved. I’m often happiest, perhaps, when we publish a writer’s first book, because I well remember the feeling of seeing my own first collection of stories in print for the first time, followed a week or so later by a wonderful review in the New York Times written by Dorothy Allison.

Q: Is there one aspect of the press that you will miss in switching your focus to your writing?
A: The labor often kept me from my own work, but there’s nothing quite like reading a manuscript after hours or days of bleary-eyed persistence and feeling the hairs on the back of your neck prickle because you’ve happened upon the real thing: a book that matters and that was written with care and grace and rocks your world.

Q: What are your most exciting/ambitious plans after retiring from New Rivers?
A:I think of myself as moving on, not retiring, and will continue to teach in the Fairfield low-residency MFA program in Mystic, Connecticut. I still live in Moorhead, so I’ll haunt the campus on occasion as an Emeritus Professor and Emeritus Editor to attend book launches and readings. My wife (who retired from teaching kindergarten) and I will travel both here in the States and abroad, first to Norway, where my son is engaged to a wonderful Norwegian woman he met when she was an exchange student at Concordia and MSUM.

I’m also still working with the press and with Thom Tammaro as co-editor to select and prepare an anthology of poems that will contain 100 poems by 100 poets who were inspired by the life and work of Bob Dylan. I look forward to seeing that anthology published and working hard to promote it.

And, of course, I hope to have much more time for my own work, which includes two novels, a fourth collection of stories, a first collection of poems, and a series of nonfiction pieces. If the god and goddess are kind, I hope to be healthy and productive for many years to come. Knock on wood.

Meet the Staff 2016/2017

Meet the Staff 

Another year at New Rivers Press is upon us and with it, another batch of student interns. We are very excited to have five with us this year, more than we’ve had in awhile, and look forward to what wonderful, book-related mischief we can get into with their help. Let’s get to know our five interns, some new and some old, as well as NRP’s managing editor.


 Taylor Brown

Taylor Brown is a senior at MSUM from Spokane, Washington. She is majoring in English with a Writing Emphasis and minoring in Philosophy. She has completed the Certificate in Publishing and hopes to work in the field after she graduates from college. Ever the outdoorswoman, she loves going for hikes and participates in MSUM’s Rock Climbing Club and Swim Team. On the side, she works as a barista for a certain coffee shop in town and makes a mean frappe. Her favorite book is Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. This will be Taylor’s first year interning with New Rivers Press.



Kyle Courteau

Kyle is in his final year at MSUM. After a rocky start, he eventually switched his major to English with a Writing Emphasis and a minor in Communication Studies. His interest in publishing stems from his experiences in grade school with dyslexia where reading was always a struggle. However, one of his teachers worked with him carefully to help him understand how the dyslexia was affecting him and how to read quickly in spite of the disability. She introduced him to the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, which features characters with various conditions like ADHD and dyslexia and diverse identities of race and sexuality. With the support Kyle’s teacher gave him and his personal interest in these books, he became a very avid reader.  His goal as a publisher is to help books like this reach children in similar positions and inspire them to work with their disabilities and enjoy reading. This is Kyle’s first year interning with New Rivers Press.


Laura Grimm

Laura is a sophomore at MSUM and is double majoring in English and Mass Communications. She grew up on a dairy farm in Waconia, MN. Her hobbies include reading, writing, and playing piano. Her favorite book is Pride and Prejudice, but she strangely is not a fan of romance novels, though she will read almost anything else. Because she’s a bookworm, she’s pursuing the Publishing Certificate and hopes to one day work at a publishing press as more than an intern. In the meantime, this is Laura’s second year as an Honors Apprentice intern for New Rivers.



Anna Landsverk

Anna Landsverk is a junior, although this is only her second year at MSUM. She is an English major with an Economics minor and two certificates. She is a second-year Honors Apprentice intern with New Rivers Press, as well as the new assistant editor for The Advocate, MSUM’s student newspaper. She enjoys soccer, video games, theater, volunteering, reading, and being outdoors. Anna greatly appreciates getting to work with New Rivers Press again this year; she looks forward to another year of helping make wonderful, original literature a reality.



Mikaila Norman

Mikaila Norman is going on her third year at MSUM and her third year as an Honors Apprentice Intern at the Press. Her plate is full with a double major in English with a Publishing Emphasis and Cultural Anthropology, as well as a minor in Creative Writing and the Certificate in Publishing. She has aspirations of becoming a copyeditor and helping authors bring their stories to life, as well as writing her own works of fiction. When she is not studying or mixing paint at a local hardware store, she enjoys reading, drawing and watching anime. This year she finds herself being the ruler of the nerds as President of MSUM’s Anime Club, a position that has so far brought her great joy. She is looking forward to another successful and fun-filled year at New Rivers Press.


Nayt Rundquist

Nayt Rundquist is New Rivers Press’s managing editor and the one in charge of all the aforementioned little Printing Devils. He is a recent graduate of MSUM’s (now defunct) Masters of Creative Writing program, and this is his second year as managing editor. When he is not too busy teaching classes, editing books, and being the boss, he enjoys reading. He is fond of comic books and prose books alike, and recently read Binti by Nnedi Okorafor, a Hugo-winning science fiction novella, which he greatly enjoyed.


Written by Mikaila Norman
Originally published September 13, 2016

Introducing Nayt Rundquist: NRP’s New Managing Editor


Nayt Rundquist at his new desk.

As of July, 2015, Nayt Rundquist has been the new Managing Editor of New Rivers Press. He succeeds Suzzanne Kelley, (with whom I had the pleasure of working last year,) who before him had been Managing Editor since 2009.

Nayt is a recent graduate of MSUM’s Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program (now no longer offered.) He specialized in fiction, and with both pride and humor told me that his thesis, which was a fantasy novel that he wrote, is one of the largest theses contained in the Weld Hall Library.

He is also a recipient of MSUM’s Certificate in Publishing and it is through this program that he first became involved with New Rivers Press. As a student, Nayt was put on the Book Team for Rachel Coyne’s novel, The Patron Saint of Lost Comfort Lake, which was released by New Rivers Press last spring. Later on, he was made the “Production Intern” for Madelon Sprengnether’s Great River Road. And just last spring he took on the role of “Assistant Production Editor” for all NRP books to be released this fall. “Suzzanne liked to give me fancy titles for everything I did,” he joked.

And now he finds himself with the title of Managing Editor, a position that has so far enjoyed immensely but which has also presented him with many challenges. “Summer was hectic,” he confessed, “but now I feel like I’m catching up.”  Nayt said that for the most part, his biggest concern now is acclimating to his new responsibilities and making sure not to forget anything. There are a lot of things going on at NRP right now. Nayt is most excited for our October Book Launch events, as well as working with our new authors.

Nayt has also taken over the publishing courses previously taught by Suzzanne. “My first degree was in education, and I love it.” Nayt has had 6 years’ worth of teaching experience in middle school, high school, and college classrooms.

When I asked him if he could tell me any interesting or fun facts about himself he leaned back, pondered deeply for a moment, then said, “I once toured China for two weeks as a musician.” At my incredulity he explained that he wasn’t some crazy rock and roll vagabond (but he purposefully tells the story vaguely because it’s more fun that way) but that the trip was with his college choir.

Nayt has also had experience working with MSUM’s literary magazine Red Weather for the past three years both as an Editor and Managing Editor.

As far as his hobbies… “My entire life is books!” he proclaimed. “Reading, writing, teaching, editing.” At that moment, he noticed a certain book on the table with a hand sewn spine from NRP’s recent book binding workshop. “I even make them!” However, we both agreed that books are really all anyone needs in their life.

Nayt has so far brought much dedication and enthusiasm to New Rivers Press and the future looks bright. I’m sure everyone will join me in wishing him good luck in his new position as Managing Editor.