HippoCamp 2022 Speaker Q&A: Steph Auteri

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Steph Auteri is the founder of Guerilla Sex Ed and Hippocampus Magazine’s essays editor, and she’ll bring her special brand of irreverent humor and bendiness (trust us, it’s relevant) to HippoCamp this year! Steph was kind enough to answer a few questions about her return to Lancaster for our annual writing conference:


Q: Tell us a little about your involvement this year at HippoCamp.

A: I was going to lurk in the shadows this year as I eased back into in-person stuff, but then I ended up on the Sunday panel of creative nonfiction editors, plus I’m back to teaching Saturday morning yoga.

I’ve been an editor for several online magazines over the past few years, but when I came on as essays editor for Hippocampus Magazine last summer, it was my first time editing for a literary magazine. As a writer who compulsively checks her Submittable queue multiple times a month, I have a new appreciation for what’s going on behind the scenes, and I imagine we’ll share some of that at our panel.

By the time I arrive at HippoCamp, I’ll also be the interim editor-in-chief for the Feminist Book Club blog, and I’m already finding it fascinating how my work with Hippocampus has shaped how I approach my work there. Working with writers to strengthen their pieces — especially ones that are so personal — can be a strange balancing act, and I approach this process as a conversation. I think *I’ll* learn something from hearing about how other editors approach this process.

As for the yoga, I hope people will be open to joining me, even if they have no prior yoga experience. Conferences always leave me feeling wrung out and depleted and yoga always rejuvenates me… or at least stretches out the sore spots. Sharing this practice with other people gives me so much joy.

Q: Our motto is “memorable creative nonfiction.” Tell us about one of the more recent memoirs, essay collections, or individual essays you’ve read and why it was memorable.

A: In recent years I’ve become a bit of a comics nerd, so I hope you’ll forgive me for mentioning a graphic memoir: Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe. Though I could not myself imagine writing for the graphic form (though if you’re an illustrator and you want to collab, call me! 😉 ), I appreciate how Kobabe uses matter-of-fact language paired with vibrant illustrations to show how important it is to see yourself in the world around you. And there are so many possible selves. As someone who does advocacy work around sex ed, I really appreciated the way they shared their story.

Q: What made you decide to participate in HippoCamp this year as a speaker? If you’re a returning speaker, how did your past experiences encourage to want to come back?

A: I’ve done flash sessions and also been a panelist in the past. I have sometimes debilitating social anxiety and the thought of carrying a full session myself is terrifying. But the Hippocampus community is so friendly and, well, the best panels (to me) feel like a casual conversation.

Q: What’s going to keep you busy between now and HippoCamp?

A: So many deadlines! Right now, the most important pieces I’m working on are two articles for Rewire News Group, one on the opposition to NJ’s updated health education guidelines and one on the inflammatory language being used by sex ed opponents.

Q: Since you’ll also be attending the conference, when you’re not wearing your “speaker hat,” what are you most looking forward to learning or doing?

A: I miss my people! I may be a socially anxious introvert who needs to retreat to her hotel room several times a day, but my god I’ve missed you. I can’t wait to see you again.


We can’t wait for Steph to join us this year! HippoCamp 2022, a creative nonfiction conference sponsored by Hippocampus Magazine and Books, is Aug. 12-14 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. For more information or to register, visit our official conference website here.

(Learn more about the conference and see details of all previous years at our magazine website’s HippoCamp page.)

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