Staff Stories: An Interview with Amy Lage

Anna Weir is one of the more recent additions to the press: Publicist, book hoarder, and needlework enthusiast. For the Press’ 75th anniversary—and out of her own curiosity—she is interviewing her more experienced co-workers to put a familiar face on one of the largest university presses in the country.

Amy Lage is a Digital Assets & IT coordinator and is a known Ted Kooser fan.

Alicia Christensen is an acquiring editor with a penchant for puzzling.

Amy Lage: You know, I was starting to be a little hurt that you hadn’t interviewed my department yet.

Anna Weir: Hey, I’m making the rounds! Let’s get started. What’s your current job at UNP, and how long have you held it?

AL: I’d like to tell people I’m the “assistant director,” but really, my job title is Digital Asset and IT Coordinator. I started around five years ago, as a student, then I moved up to an intern, then part time, then full time.

AW: Wow, me too. That is, I also started as a student and moved up from there. What brought you to UNP?

AL: Well, I’d known Jana since high school, and Terry and Erica, and when I went back to school to finish my degree—that would have been, oh, seven or eight years ago—I had been working on a teaching degree, and I thought putting in time at a university press would help pad my resume. Wouldn’t you know it, I wound up staying.

AW: Is there a particular book that you’ve really enjoyed working on?

AL: Margo Mifflin’s The Blue Tattoo was one of the first e-books I made. We didn’t used to make e-books in house. I’m helping to digitize our backlist—it’s a lot of work. Now that I think about it, I think the very first e-book I made was part of the Flyover Fiction series, but I can’t remember which one now. But Blue Tattoo is the one that sticks out to me. Did you know there’s a band who wrote a song about her—the woman I mean, Olive Oatman?

AW: No way!

AL: Yes, somewhere—maybe Erica has it—there’s a video of me singing that song. It’s pretty hysterical.

AW: That must be why you remember the book so well! That’s excellent. Is there a forthcoming title you’re particularly excited about?

AL: Flock Together by B. J. Hollars—I think it’s very timely, for many reasons. My partner and I plan to give this book to family and friends. We’re excited to talk about it and hope to have an informal book club.

AW: Fantastic. Do you have a favorite author?

AL: Ted Kooser. I have a massive crush on Ted Kooser.

AW: Totally understandable. He’s one of my favorites, too.

AL: No, really. A massive crush. He used to write little poems for the women employees on Valentine’s Day and leave them in our mailboxes. My co-workers used to give me any extras. I’ve still got a few on my board here.

AW: Too funny! What advice do you have for people starting their career in publishing?

AL: Honestly, I wouldn’t know because I never set out to be in publishing—but I love it. It’s pretty awesome to tell people you work for at a place that makes books.

AW: Agreed. Okay, getting to the last question. Finish this sentence: Remember when . . .

AL: . . . when the library wasn’t the library? I was one of the people who put together the room that’s now our library. It used to be our file room, and all our books used to be housed where that red wall is now.

AW: Huh, I didn’t know that!

AL: Yeah. The library is one of my fav—

Alicia Christensen: (Interrupting) AMY! LIBRARY! PUZZLES! LET’S GO!

AL: Really? I’m in an interview right now.

AC: Oh, whoops. Not actually sorry. Puzzles are important.

AW: We’re about done here anyway! Thanks for your time, Amy, and enjoy puzzling!