“Everyone laughs when they hear the name, ‘Gladys,’” she said. “They imagine a librarian, someone with horn-rimmed glasses. I wanted to see if there could be more to a character named Gladys.”
McClean is the fiction editor of Should Does, an online literary magazine based in Chapel Hill, which is releasing its first-ever print publication, “Gladys,” today.
“Gladys” was a year-long project for the organization, which wanted to create a physical compilation of its contributors’ work.
“A lot of people are talking about how print media is dying and online media, even in the form of literary magazines such as ourselves, is the wave of the future,” said Alex Karsten , editor-in-chief of Should Does.
“We also do see the value of print, and we really do see the value in taking the time to make something, in this case, a print book, that is really worth keeping, that is worth admiring as its own product.”
Each of the four sections of the book is an exploration of another dimension of Gladys’ character through old and new pieces from Should Does contributors.
McClean and her three-person task force compiled contributions they felt represented their vision of “Gladys.”
“I’d originally envisioned one single Gladys character, instead of four, but I really enjoyed watching everyone’s separate idea of Gladys take shape,” McClean said.
“I think it adds to the mystique of Gladys — she’s mercurial, she can’t be pinned down.”
Maddie Norris, a contributor at Should Does who helped compile “Gladys,” said she found working with the talented writers and artists at Should Does to be rewarding.
“I think it’s very impressive to read other people’s work and to know that they are just like you,” she said. “Creative writing is a very personal thing because you get to read people’s thoughts and their talents, and it is something that I thought was really cool.”
Should Does Art Director Reilly Finnegan, who was in charge of the design and layout of “Gladys,” said that designing a printed product was an interesting experience.
“In designing a physical printed book, you’re thinking about the way someone is going to hold it and the way that someone is going to turn the pages and what they’ll see from one page to the next and what they’ll see when the book is sitting on a shelf,” he said.
Karsten said “Gladys” will appeal to students because the writers are the same age and contain modern narratives across a wide range of topics.
“It’s easy to find blogs and things online that have this very young, fresh voice,” Karsten said. “But I think that it’s a little bit harder to find that sort of thing in print, and that’s one of the reasons we wanted to make ‘Gladys.’”
McClean said the book does a great job of representing the importance of an artistic community, which is what Should Does is all about.
“There are something like 26 writers and artists represented in the book. Each of those writers and artists has a distinctive voice and a distinctive aesthetic that’s theirs alone, but they all belong to this great thing,” she said.
“That’s what I want people to take away from this — that your artistic voice is important and your artistic community is important.”