Talented teens and literary magazines
Article by Emily Mazzara
‘Terrier is a space for the unheard and the overlooked to finally speak their truths to power. We can’t wait to read all of your writing!’—Zara and Adam
We have all heard the naysayers claiming that books are a dying breed, that reading and writing hold no appeal to a generation raised on social media and videogames. But here’s a fun fact—they couldn’t be more wrong. Young adults have more to say now than ever before, and who knows that better than other young adults. Adam and Zara, both seventeen, have made it the mission of their newly conceived literary magazine Terrier to give a platform to other young adults with a drive and passion for writing. The two met while attending school in Belfast, where they live, and bonded over a love or reading and books. ‘If we’re out with a group, we often annoy our friends because we head into bookstores and don’t come out,’ Adam explained over e-mail when I connected with the two about their project. I wanted to get to know more about their background, their project, and how everything came together.
Both claim titles as avid readers, saying that the spark was planted through being read to by their parents as children. Famous names like Harry Potter and Roald Dahl were mentioned as favourites that helped launch Adam and Zara into wanting to write stories of their own.
‘I started my first book when I was eight—a fantasy tale starring my dog as the titular character—which I scrapped about ten pages in,’ Adam said. ‘I mainly stick to prose, but have dabbled in poetry and, more recently, in playwriting thanks to a brilliant course called The Right Twig run by Fighting Words through the Lyric Theatre.’
Zara similarly started writing at a young age, telling me, ‘Not long after [age six], I wrote my first short story, though it wasn’t as pleasant as Adam’s. It was about a boy who was beheaded in the 1500s—I think I watched too much Horrible Histories.’ In April of this year, Zara had a poem commended in the prestigious Tower Poetry competition which is run through Oxford. Neither have any previous publishing experiences and are coming to Terrier as amateurs and seem excited to learn and explore a new side of the book world.
The pair had tossed around the idea of starting their own magazine for a while, but between studying for their first year of A levels and everything else that comes along with being in school, their free time was virtually non-existent. Then came March 2020, everyone was locked in their homes for an undetermined length of time and it presented an opportunity. ‘Adam came to me around May and I knew then that he was ready to take our idea for a Northern Irish literary zine to the next level,’ Zara said.
Adam added, ‘We had a few zoom calls to discuss what we wanted the zine to be, and within a few days we had everything set up.’
‘He’s far too humble to say this himself,’ Zara joked, ‘but Adam is pretty much an expert on outreach and just generally getting things sorted, and so it was pretty eye-opening for me to watch how quickly he could take our general concept and make it a reality.’
In one of their many zoom meetings, the pair discussed what they wanted their new zine to accomplish. Growing up seeing how people in their age group were underrepresented in Northern Irish media, culture and politics, it was an easy decision to create a space for those voices to be heard.
‘If we’re only hearing from certain people in society, the same certain people who have had the stage for hundreds of years, you’re not getting the full story,’ Adam said. ‘Everyone has a story to tell, just not everyone has been allowed to tell it.’
Zara added, ‘I think it is quite obvious why we are very much open to receiving submissions from the LGBT and POC communities—we live in a country with an undeniable history, and a present reality, of homophobia, transphobia and racism. I think one way we can fight back against that is through the words that we use to express our reactions to those systemic structures.’
After hearing their amazing story, and the passion they have for the project, and subsequent outreach that they are working on, I only had one final question: How did you come up with the name? Adam let Zara take this question and she said, ‘The name took its time coming to me! The image of a dog kept coming back to me. I went to the Black Lives Matter protest at the City Hall in June and saw a man wearing a shirt that said “more blacks, more dogs, more Irish” and I thought “That’s exactly what we’re trying to do!” Including as many people in our submissions from as many different backgrounds as possible is a paramount to the Terrier ethos and so the name itself just came from that place of strength and inclusion.’
You can find the Terrier on Instagram @terrier.zine and on Twitter @TerrierZine. They just extended their submissions deadline for the first issue to 31 August and you can submit to them via email: email@example.com. Submissions are open to those from or currently living in Northern Ireland who are between 16 and 22. You can find the full guidelines for submissions on their social media accounts. If you aren’t a writer, but would like to participate, Terrier has a GoFundMe page that is still open for donations: https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-launch-terrier-zine-for-young-irish-writers?sharetype=teams&member=4
Emily Mazzara is an American university student pursuing a degree in Publishing and Editing. Her love of books is only matched by her love of traveling, dogs, and a good cup of tea. She completed an internship with Books Ireland in Autumn 2019 and still occasionally contributes to the magazine.