Meet Hair Trigger 2.0's New Editor-in-Chief: An Interview with Jennifer Bostrom

Interviewed by Ben Kowalski

Jennifer Bostrom graduated from Columbia College Chicago's Creative Writing (Fiction) major in May 2016. She was the Production Editor for Hair Trigger 38 and was a contributor and intern at Hypertext Magazine online. She has been appointed to be the Editor-in-Chief of Hair Trigger’s online edition.

I had a chance to sit down with Jennifer Bostrom to talk about Hair Trigger, its new website, and the creative writing community at Columbia.

Ben Kowalski: What attracted you to Hair Trigger, originally?

Jennifer Bostrom: Coming into the department, Hair Trigger was one of the main things I often looked forward to not only reading but [also] aspiring to each year. As a student, it was really nice to be able to read stories written by my peers that were [on] a professional level. I looked forward to editing because [editing] was an experience that I had before, so it gave me the opportunity to grow up professionally and in my own writing.

BK: What do you hope to bring to Hair Trigger as its online Editor-in-Chief?

JB: The idea for Hair Trigger [Online] is to introduce it to a national audience. I’m hoping that I can bring the Columbia spirit to a national audience because it’s funny, it’s dark, [and] it’s experimental. It’s not [the kind of] fiction—and in some cases Creative Nonfiction—that I see in many places, so I’m hoping that we can broaden the audience.

BK: How do publications like Hair Trigger affect Columbia’s creative writing community?

JB: [It’s] an anthology of my peers—I work on their writing with them or I listen to their writing in class. It’s sort of a way for me to not only see my peers’ work come to fruition as a published piece but it’s also a way to expose students to what fiction can be. It’s a way to show them how experimental or how silly or how crazy a piece can be—it’s not just Pride and Prejudice or Shakespeare. It’s much more fun and “out there,” but still very literary.

BK: Has working with Hair Trigger informed your fiction writing in any way?

JB: From the writing side, it forced me to step outside of my comfort zone. As an editor, it forced me to view my pieces from a much more critical lens. I started focusing a lot more on how I said things, or how I punctuated, even—whether I was supposed to use the em dash or a semicolon, whether things should go in italics. It forced me to elevate the standard to which I held my own writing. 

BK: What is your biggest challenge as a writer and editor?

JB: My biggest challenge as a writer would definitely be my own self-censorship about whether or not I should write things or whether I should send them out to places. As a writer who edits their own work, I try to be very careful about not over-editing my own pieces because [you are] your own harshest critic. I edit out things that are written from [an] emotional basis, or edit too much, [or] edit out the thing that really should have stayed in there because it was hard-hitting and honest. 

As an editor, the hardest thing is editing too much, or editing to honor a piece and that author’s intent or that author’s voice. You never want to over-edit [or] overstep your bounds.

BK: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

JB: I hope that we can successfully bring this magazine to a broader audience and honor the tradition that we have with the Creative Writing Department.


Ben Kowalski is a BA Nonfiction senior at Columbia College Chicago, creative nonfiction writer, copy editor and contributor at the award-winning Columbia Chronicle (2015), and music critic at Pop'stache.com (2014–2015). Ben is currently working on an essay collection about music, and his album reviews can be found at http://popstache.com/author/bkowalski/.