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Student magazine publishes

Joe Piarulli | Thursday, February 23, 2006

A group of Notre Dame students is trying to save the world.

The literary world, that is.

“The Thatcher,” a weekly online literary magazine at www.thethatcher.org, released its first issue Feb. 1 with the goal of creating a writing community based around developing ideas, working personally with writers and producing the best fictional content possible.

“It’s an idea that has evolved and will evolve some more,” Christopher Mahoney, the current Lead Editor of “The Thatcher,” said. “It’s a pretty open-ended structure, and it focuses on the way the group works and the way the group is thinking.”

Unlike many literary magazines, which either simply reject or accept submissions, the journey from submission to publication in “The Thatcher” is extensive and distinct. The editors often develop stories by committee.

“It’s a remarkably organic process,” Mahoney said. “Both of [our first two stories] started out as just a couple paragraphs, and they ended up in places we never expected they would, but they were fascinating, interesting places.”

The position of Lead Editor of “The Thatcher” switches every month between the four editors – seniors Mahoney, Mike Seidl and Sarah French and junior Alexa Recio. According to French, “The Thatcher,” is Mahoney’s brainchild.

While all the editors are English majors, they said they find their academic path almost an immaterial point. Mahoney points out that Notre Dame’s most well known author, Nicholas Sparks (“The Notebook”), was not an English major.

“It doesn’t matter what background or what major someone is as long as you want to write,” French said. “We don’t want writing or submitting to a magazine to be intimidating. We welcome writers of all levels and take personal interest in helping them become better writers.”

Since “The Thatcher,” is not sponsored by Notre Dame, it does not have any length or content restrictions, and since it appears online, publication proves very inexpensive.

One of the driving forces behind “The Thatcher,” according to Mahoney, was the idea that fictional short stories were not well represented at Notre Dame

“Sometimes it seems that ‘The Juggler,’ the current literary magazine, kind of falls short of providing fictional prose content, so we’d like to fill in that gap a little bit,” he said.

“The idea that ‘The Thatcher’ grew from was the idea that there were a lot of stories out there that just weren’t getting told, or people started and didn’t finish, or hit a block or something like that.”

The staff of “The Thatcher” usually meets at least once a week and often arranges times with people who submit stories in order to discuss how their ideas can grow.

“What we’re hoping is that people will send their unfinished ideas and we’ll work with the writer and we’d develop it into a bigger, better story.” Mahoney said.

The process has been rather inexact thus far. In fact, the editors can’t quite pin down an exact reason for the publication’s name, which they say is open to metaphors.

“‘Thatcher’ is kind of open-ended, and we kind of figure that if you ask us enough times we’ll just keep giving you different answers,” Mahoney said. “We really don’t want to hem ourselves into one way of doing things or one particular style or one particular ideology, and the name ‘The Thatcher’ reflects this.”

“The Thatcher” accepts almost any type of submission, from graphic novels to art submissions for the cover page, but the main priority is publishing fiction.

“We’re there for the stories that haven’t been written, and we want everyone to be a part of [‘The Thatcher’]” Mahoney said. “No one else really is doing this sort of thing with short stories.”

The editors are optimistic for the publication’s future and hope it can improve the University’s literary community.

“This is something that is really, really helpful to writers, and we’re hoping to expand it more to the Notre Dame campus and make it more of a community,” French said. “We just want to make the Notre Dame writing community better.”