Gilmore Girls Is Back! What Will Rory Be Reading?

Television’s greatest bookworm could soon return to our living rooms. Sources have reported that Netflix will revive Gilmore Girls in a series of four “mini movies.” That’s right, Rory Gilmore is coming back, and you’d better believe she’s bringing an extensive reading list.

If you’re not familiar with the show, Gilmore Girls tells the story of single mom Lorelai and her brainy, book-obsessed daughter Rory. It aired on the WB and CW networks from 2000 to 2007. You might wonder why anyone in publishing would care about a fictional character from a television show that was cancelled eight years ago and originally aired on a network obsessed with teenage drama and vampires. Rory Gilmore is no Oprah. She doesn’t have book club stickers. She doesn’t even have a Colbert Bump. What’s the big deal?

The key to this mystery is Netflix and internet time. Gilmore Girls made all its episodes available for streaming in 2013, which allowed the already sizable fan base to grow and brought the show back into the cultural conversation. At the same time, the internet had changed. Think about it: Gilmore Girls went off the air in 2007. Memes were just becoming a thing. Grumpy Cat hadn’t even been born! Buzzfeed and Tumblr weren’t yet glimmers in their creators’ eyes. Streaming video, DVRs, and the things that let us screengrab, gif, and obsess about our favorite shows online either didn’t exist yet or weren’t widespread. Through it all, the internet never forgot its favorite mother-daughter team, and Rory’s reading habits received just as much scrutiny as the characters’ love lives.

A casual search will bring you countless sites that allow you to compare your own reading history to the list of 339 books Rory reads over the course of the series. Then there’s The Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge, in which Patrick Lenton chronicles his efforts to read through the whole list. Even before the Netflix revival was announced, people speculated about what Rory’s been reading since last we saw her. It’s safe to say that hers is one of the most closely monitored reading lists in television history. I’d be surprised if whatever books Rory is reading in these new mini movies don’t see a bump in sales.

As for what those titles might be, Rory has broad, sometimes surprising taste, and she’s never been afraid to look outside the mainstream for her reading fix. I’d like to think that after her time working for the Obama campaign, Rory’s political radar is finely tuned. She’d relish something like Untangling the Knot, which puts a personal spin on the recent Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality. Or maybe, as a young girl who read a lot of old, dead white guys, she’d be interested in exploring her relationship to their books by reading The Ghosts Who Travel With Me. Of course, Rory was never one to ignore trends. She would definitely keep up-to-date with the best in YA fiction. A Series of Small Maneuvers, with it’s delicate portrayal of a complicated father-daughter relationship, would be right up her alley. And sure, I suppose she could read some non-Ooligan titles too. What do you think we’ll see Rory reading when the show returns?

An Interview with Meagan Lobnitz: Project Manager of Untangling the Knot

It was a gray and colder-than-normal day as we gathered for the last Ooligan Press executive meeting of Winter 2014. We were selecting a new title for an in-house originated project, which, up until that point, had been called More than Marriage. One title in particular was almost unanimously picked, and Untangling the Knot: Queer Voices on Marriage, Relationships & Identity released at the end of February. Recently, I had a chance to interview the current team leader for the project, Meagan Lobnitz.

I remember back at the end of Winter Term 2014 when we voted on your book’s title. There was quite a bit of enthusiasm in the room that seems to have been building for quite some time. How did having all this vocal and open support from the Ooligan community impact you, your team, and the production of the book?

The project was originally pitched to the Ooligan team in Spring 2013, under the name More Than Marriage. The first title describes the original concept well; the acquisitions team, primarily Kate Marshall, wanted to build a collection about social justice issues that are faced by the LGBTQ community that extend beyond the discussion of marriage equality. The press seemed to recognize the value and timeliness of the project from the beginning. Not only is the topic relevant (a fact that has become more and more true in the time since the pitch), but a decision was made early in the progress of the project to extend the submissions to a national scale, which makes the title unique for Ooligan. The support of the press members and the publisher has allowed our team to push some boundaries and try new marketing ideas. We hope to reach a wide audience and to facilitate far-reaching exposure for the book, a task that requires ongoing support of the project from the entire Ooligan Press team, so we are of course grateful for that support.

As you know, it can take nearly a year, or more, for a book to go from concept to finished product. What sort of activities did you and your team have so that everyone could stay focused, stay on deadline, and not get burned out?

Untangling the Knot has had a long production schedule. During the fall of 2013, the project team focused on generating submissions and collecting preliminary data for marketing and publicity. The next quarter, there was plenty to do as project manager Kate Marshall worked with the book’s editor, Carter Sickels, to select essays and begin the process of compiling a manuscript. In spring of 2014, the team built a marketing plan and began to conceptualize what the final collection would look like, and worked on early copyediting as well. The cover was also designed by Ooligan member Stephanie Podmore during that spring. The team was very busy over the summer term in 2014: final developmental and copyedits took place. Carter assigned a final order for the book, and we created sales kits to send to our sales representatives at Ingram who would be pitching the title to book buyers. Fall of 2014 involved the interior design process, which was completed by Erika Schnatz. The team worked on early publicity efforts, including sending galleys to possible reviewers, and the process of acquiring blurbs for the book. That, of course, brings us to the current term. The team is busier than ever as we launch a full publicity campaign, plan launch events and other readings, contact local and national media outlets that might have interest in the title, and generally direct our efforts toward the upcoming publication date, which is February 28, 2015. I don’t think that the Untangling the Knot team has ever had time to lose focus or experience burnout. We are all pretty high energy, and we are focused on the best possible outcome for the title.

What were some of the most challenging moments in the process of bringing Untangling the Knot to print, and how did you overcome them? What did you and your team learn from these challenges?

The largest challenge during the process of bringing Untangling the Knot to print was the compilation of the essays. Working with twenty-five individual pieces meant extra legwork and a lot of communication with the authors. What we learned is that the more moving pieces there are in a project, the more it will benefit from advance planning and working to get and stay ahead of deadlines.

Many book projects have this moment when something amazing and/or unexpected happens; a famous author writes a blurb for your book, or your printer has managed to find that special paper you were looking for and isn’t going to charge you extra for it. Did anything like that happen with Untangling the Knot?

There have been a lot of special moments during the production of Untangling the Knot, beginning with the attachment of Carter Sickels as the editor for the collection, the amazing range of authors that have contributed to the anthology . . . all of our blurbs are special and exciting, and we have received early feedback from book buyers that many are excited about the title. Every production milestone has been exhilarating, up to and including the actual printing of the books.

Once the launch is completed, what’s next for you and your team?

The sell-through for Untangling the Knot will be a big focus for the team for the rest of this term and next. Beyond that, we look forward to the new rotation, during which we will start the production process of a new title if the press acquires one.

What are your biggest takeaways from this experience of producing Untangling the Knot? Insights? Epiphanies?

Maybe the most important lesson that our team has learned is that there are specific strategies that need to be employed when working on an anthology. These include extra measures for organization, maintaining open communication with all of the authors, and the specific challenges involved with describing the project in a way that best expresses the overall collection. These unique considerations mean that the team needs to be very close to the project.

Launch of Untangling the Knot: Queer Voices on Marriage, Relationships & Identity

On March 5, 2015 at Portland State University, Ooligan Press celebrated the launch of its most recent publication, Untangling the Knot: Queer Voices on Marriage, Relationships & Identity, a compendium of personal and political essays by twenty-six modern LGBTQ writers. Editor Carter Sickels, Lambda award-winning author of The Evening Hour, moderated a series of breathtaking readings by seven of the contributors to Untangling the Knot.

Carter Sickels introducing Untangling the Knot

The essayists read excerpts to a rapt audience of over one hundred guests, who afterward asked the authors questions ranging from whether they felt compelled as authors in the LGBTQ community to be activists, to whether terms now used to describe the LGBTQ population are reductive or expansive, and what it was like to publish as a collective of voices on LGBTQ experiences.

The authors’ answers to guests were both universal and diverse. Judith Barrington, whose essay “When Outlaws Marry” describes her experience living through the feminist movement of the 60s, explained, “Thirty years ago, these [essays] all would have been coming-out stories. Now, that’s part of our stories, but that’s not all there is to it.” A.M. O’Malley responded, “When I think about labels, I think about postmodernism. We as a people are ready to be past generalizations. I don’t identify as a queer writer, I identify as a writer. I am out as A.M. O’Malley.”

Judith Barrington reading her essay from Untangling the Knot>

Trans author Everett Maroon, executive director of an HIV nonprofit in Walla Walla, Washington, drove five hours with a head cold and two toddlers to be at the launch. In response to the question about activism, he said, “Many of us do activist work because when people aren’t so focused on surviving, they can do creative things like write.” In his essay “In a Small Town, Nothing Goes Wrong,” Maroon writes about doctors who today still refuse to treat HIV-positive patients. “LGBTQ health care reveals all that is weak in the US system of health care,” he says.

Everett Maroon reading his essay from Untangling the Knot

The anthology was a unique challenge insofar as it is the first book of its kind at a time when many books seek to align with or against the marriage equality movement. Against that landscape, Untangling the Knot attempts to advance the conversation on equality. Contributor Ben Anderson-Nathe spoke to the risks of publishing his view on the shortcomings of marriage equality. In his essay “We Are Not ‘Just Like Everyone Else,’” he writes, “I do not support the further fracturing of queer communities such that only two-person monogamous relationships are granted validation.” At the launch, he explained, “I fully anticipate backlash from my essay. I anticipate it coming from misunderstanding of the point I’m trying to make, which is not opposition to marriage but that granting marriage to a few more people signals some kind of equality. As long as the rhetoric is predicated on sameness, we aren’t making progress.”

Ben Anderson-Nathe

Untangling the Knot approaches the debate surrounding marriage equality head on. In the anthology, the authors share their personal identities, sexualities, and gender experiences growing up in modern America, and question how the current progress on marriage equality reflects the true diversity of the meanings of family.

The authors’ points of view are as personal as they are political. Pamela Helberg read from her essay about the pain of coming about growing up lesbian in the small town of Pocatello, Idaho: “Coming out isn’t a one-time event. Coming out happens over and over and over again, every day, every week, every month.”

Contributor Mel Wells’s partner, Ashley Brittner, attended and commented, “The book will be so important for younger people because they can see their own personal stories in the authors’ stories. This book is one way this community can really connect. Mel’s story—so many people’s stor[ies]—unfolded that way. Knowing that kind of support exists can be a lifeline for people. When I grew up in Montana, we didn’t have anything like this.”

What was evident from listening to the authors at the event was that progress toward expanding LGBTQ rights in America can be made by understanding the diversity of the people in that community. That diversity is present on the pages of Untangling the Knot.

To see more photos from this event, please visit our Facebook page.