Arts & Entertainment
2 min

That Parisian temptation

How a young Torontonian became editor of a European literary journal

"As soon as I got out of the shuttle bus, smack in the middle of the rond-point du Charles de Gaulle Étoile, I felt at home," says Lye of Paris.
Harriet Alida Lye doesn’t just wish upon a star; she makes her dreams come true.
 
Lye is the founder and editor-in-chief of Her Royal Majesty, a Paris-based literary and arts journal.
 
“I was living in Paris on exchange for university and before moving back to Halifax, talked to my friends about starting a local arts magazine,” Lye says. “There wasn’t anything like it. There were local newspapers and weeklies, some zines and university publications, but nothing collective that published the work of local artists.”
 
Lye is creating a global launch for Her Royal Majesty’s 12th issue, the theme of which is “The Exotic.” The issue features work by Anne Simpson, Stuart Dischell and the first story ever written by Alice Munro. There will be simultaneous May 11 parties in Paris, London, Berlin, New York, Toronto, Montreal and Halifax.
 
“My event planner and long-time friend Rose Lipton is curating an excellent evening in Toronto at Placebo Space,” says Lye. “Writer Grace O’Connell will read from Alice Munro’s ‘The Dimension of a Shadow’; musicians Loom, Graham Wright, of Tokyo Police Club, and The Fabulous Yawn will perform.”
 
Now 25, the Toronto-raised Lye, who studied at University of King’s College in Halifax, once Googled three words on a whim: Paris, English, university.
 
“As soon as I got out of the shuttle bus, smack in the middle of the rond-point du Charles de Gaulle Étoile, I felt at home,” she says. “I moved back to Paris in 2009 because I missed that feeling. I had built myself a community during that first year; I felt like my life was there.”
 
Since arriving in Paris, Lye has worked as a bookseller at Shakespeare & Company, a reporter for France24, an English teacher (her students have included Jacques Lacan’s grandchildren), a nude model for painter Rosy Lamb, a photographer for a design company, a private tour guide at the Louvre, a host of literary and art parties, and, of course, she continues to contribute to and edit Her Royal Majesty.
 
“My girlfriend, Rosa Rankin-Gee, is the Paris editor of A Tale of Three Cities, and the two of us travel to bookshops . . . for literary festivals,” Lye says.
 
The couple has also written collaboratively, and one of their joint poems appears in Issue 12 of Her Royal Majesty.
 

“When I have the time to write, I write, but I’m not always in the mood for writing. Having the community of the literary magazine is helpful, as it’s outward-facing rather than isolated,” Lye says. 

The Deets:

Her Royal Majesty Issue 12
Launch party
Fri, May 11
Placebo Space
1409 Bloor St W
For more information, visit heroyalmajesty.ca