English major Madeleine Wright ’21 is one of the Rhodes students who’s been able to continue their internship despite the disruption COVID-19 has had on so many organizations. In fact, the Davidson, NC, native has been working remotely since fall 2019 as one of the few undergraduate students on staff for Storm Literary Agency in Mound, MN, which specializes in quality children’s literature and young adult fiction ranging from dystopian novels to fantasy.
In her internship role, her responsibilities include drafting a criticism that encapsulates the plot and character synopsis, while also addressing the writer’s strengths, any holes in the plot, and a rating of the piece from 1-10.
“It’s a lot of responsibility, but it’s also been fun, especially when I can read young adult fiction and forget about the world,” says Wright about her unique internship. “During this period, when so many are at home and they have time to write, I think we’re going to see a lot of new submissions. There’s a lot of creativity out there. Hopefully, I’ll find the next Harry Potter.”
And just what does Wright look for in queries?
“I look for a writing style and if an author has an interesting idea. If it’s an idea I’ve heard before, it needs to bring something new to the table,” she says. “The way the publishing world works, you’re looking for something to be in the market two years into the future.”
Although Wright grew up enjoying reading and has been interested in editing since the age of 10, Wright said that it wasn’t until she read Jhumpa Lahiri’s short story collection Interpreter of Maladies in Prof. Marshall Boswell’s course at Rhodes and Lahiri’s The Namesake in Prof. Rashna Richards’ course that she discovered her passion for a career in the literary world.
“Those books and those professors made everything change for me,” says Wright. “I’m biracial, and having an Indian professor such as Prof. Richards to help navigate Indian writing has been so amazing. I’ve learned so much about myself, about writing. The Namesake changed my life, and that’s why I want to publish books that change people’s lives.”
In addition to her internship, Wright participates in Rhodes’ prestigious mock trial program. “As a result, I’ve learned a lot about writing and making arguments, and I have gained confidence in public speaking.” She is also involved in Rhodes’ Diplomats, Social Regulations Council, and student-led a cappella group.
Wright says she was hoping to secure an internship with a major publishing company in New York this summer, but that her plans seem unlikely now with travel restrictions. In the meantime, she is enjoying “looking for the next Harry Potter.” In the fall, Wright will continue to polish her writing and editing skills as a Rhodes Student Associate for the Office of Communications.
By Meg Jerit ’20