Coming Full Circle: Adventures in Literary Arts Administration


2015 Literary House Summer Intern Aliya Merhi ’16 writes about her experiences so far in field literary arts administration.


When I was 17, I stumbled upon Christa Desir’s Twitter account.  She was a publicist at the time, and I began following her blog and sharing my interest in YA books with her.  As she began writing her own YA novels, I became one of her teen beta readers.  I was homeschooled at the time, and the focus of my life became reading and reviewing books.  After meeting Christa and the rest of the book blogging community, I decided that I wanted to enter the field of publishing.  I shared her excitement when she was picked up by an agent, and then when she signed to Simon Pulse.  She is now a romance editor and has published Fault Line and Blood Like Me, and her newest book, Other Broken Things,is coming out in January 2016. 

As the Summer Literary House Intern, I have the opportunity to plan an event with my fellow intern Ryan Manning.  I began thinking about my interests and what type of talk I would like to hear given at the Literary House this year, and I realized that I could invite the writer who first introduced me to the field that I am centering my life around to give a talk and hear her insights on navigating the industry.

Her immediate reply, “Yes!” to our invitation quickly set the planning stage in motion.  One of the first considerations of planning the event was the focus of the talk.  As a YA author, romance editor, rape victim activist, and podcaster, there is an array of topics she could center her talk around.  But The Oral History Podcast that she does with Carrie Mesrobian that is focused on sex and YA books gave me and Ryan the idea of asking her to talk about how to bridge the traditionally uncomfortable gap between young adults and sexuality in YA novels.

My responsibilities this summer include preparing for the event on February 25th include collecting the information and paperwork as well as submitting event requests.  I am learning about the preparation necessary to host an event and even have the opportunity to perform those tasks that produce the events that I have been attending each semester.  Not only am I performing literary administrative work, but the work I am doing is centered on an event of my choosing where I have been able to invite an author that has inspired me and encouraged my love for books and publishing which led me to apply for this internship.