Gabrielle Lucille Fuentes.
Gabrielle Lucille Fuentes. (Courtesy photo)

University of Colorado graduate student Gabrielle Lucille Fuentes has always been superstitious, especially about her writing, so she's trying not to read too much into her recent acknowledgement as an up-and-comer.

One of Fuentes' stories is featured as the Market Fresh Selection in the current issue of The Coffin Factory -- a literary magazine in New York.

Each issue features a new, unknown author that the editors think deserve more attention. Fuentes' story "The Field of Professional Mourning" gained the spotlight.

"I'm really superstitious so I'm nervous to say much about it, but I'm proud to put that on my bio," Fuentes said. "I was just reading about how success leads to complacency, so I'm not interested in resting on my laurels but I am super proud and happy to be in such a quality publication."

The student's 4,000-word story is about a company that provides professional mourners to grieve at funerals. Fuentes said the story is an exaggerated version of traditions she read about in South Korea and Ireland.

Since her brother died a few years ago, Fuentes said she has been exploring grief through her writing and "The Field of Professional Mourning" is no exception.

Magazine editor Randy Rosenthal said the student's interesting and bizarre topic and quality writing stood out among the piles of submissions.

"We have very particular taste and are looking for very high quality work," Rosenthal said. "We're looking for somebody who is going to be a known author in the future and is just starting their career so we help them along."


Fuentes said it was great timing since she's preparing to graduate with her master's degree in creative writing in May and is planning to extend the published story.

The magazine is published three times per year and features a mix of new writers and well-known authors, like Pulitzer Prize winner Charles Simic. Rosenthal said the magazine, modeled after the New Yorker, seeks to reach an audience who loves to read but doesn't typically read literary journals.

Fuentes said she's been writing since she was too young to understand words but did not decide to turn her dream into a career until she began graduate school at CU in the fall of 2010.

"I have this funny memory of a little notebook where I would write poems of random things in my house but there were no words, just squiggly lines, because I couldn't write yet," Fuentes said. "Everyone has those little dreams and even now it's still a dream because it's not what I'm able to make money at yet, but it is a big part of my life now."

Since starting her graduate degree, Fuentes has been published in several online and print publications including The Collagist, Pank and The Yoke, but considers The Coffin Factory one of her biggest accomplishments due to the quality of the magazine and her story.

"I only send out work that I'm really proud of," Fuentes said. "If I've read it a million times and still like it, then I feel like I should send it out, and I really love this one."

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