What is Germ?

Germ was an online magazine initially created in All The Bright Places by Violet Markey, but in 2014 it was turned into a reality by the author, Jennifer Niven. Working as part of a team we aim to shed light on all issues, big and small, serious, and funny, hard, and helpful to provide a space where everyone’s voice can be heard whilst also encouraging writers and other creative people to share their work. We discuss all aspects and experiences of life in an inclusive way for young people – high school age and beyond. Topics discussed include love, life, death, health, the future, career, school, and much more. So join us in this community. You start here!

Meet the Core Team

Because it takes a village. Here’s a bit about the Germ family!

Jennifer Niven

Founder & Co-Editor-in-Chief

In addition to being Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Germ, I’m the #1 New York Times and internationally bestselling author of young adult novels All the Bright Places, Holding up the Universe, Breathless, and Take Me With You When You Go (co-authored with David Levithan), along with several books for adults. My books have been translated into over 75 languages and have won literary awards around the world, and I co-wrote the script for the All the Bright Places movie—currently streaming on Netflix and starring Elle Fanning, Justice Smith, Luke Wilson, and Keegan-Michael Key. When I’m not working on multiple book and screen projects, I engage with my readers, dance to Harry Styles and ABBA, study French, and wander the world. I divide my time between coastal Georgia and Paris with my husband and seven literary cats. 

Holly Thomson


As Co-Editor-in-Chief of Germ, I am working round the clock on all aspects of the magazine, including creating monthly writing challenges, overseeing (with Jennifer) Niv Reads, reading submissions from wonderful new writers, editing, posting, designing, copy editing, helping to organize our brilliant team, and responding to inquiries. I’m 20 years old and live in Scotland where I’m studying English literature and philosophy at Glasgow University. I’m passionate about mental health awareness, love all kinds of music and books, and adore cats. 

Violeta Morales

Artistic Designer

Hi! I’m Violeta and that beauty on the left is my rhodesian ridgeback, Akila. I’m Colombian and I’m studying to become a psychologist. I love art, dogs, coffee, music, and books (duh). I designed the logo for Germ and also do all of the graphics for the website including those you see on Jennifer’s Instagram. I speak English, Spanish, and a bit of French. If I’m not doodling in a sketchbook, you’ll probably find my head in a book.

Sa’iyda Shabazz

Editor & Copy Editor

I’m a writer and mom who lives in LA with my partner, son, and 3 adorable, albeit very extra animals. I have yet to meet a chocolate chip cookie I don’t like, spend my free time (lol) reading as many queer romances as I can, and have spent the better part of my life obsessed with late 90s pop culture. When I’m not working as an editor here at Germ you can find me on Twitter and Instagram!

Josh Flores

Book & Author Staff Writer & Editor

I am 23 years old and currently live in Orange County, CA. When I’m not working as a writer at a local marketing agency during the day, I can be found reading YA fiction at a cozy coffee shop, binge-watching RuPaul’s Drag Race, and drinking sleepy time tea. At Germ I specialise in content relating to books and authors. As staff writer I cover a variety of content, including: author interviews, book reviews, and local signings and events within the Los Angeles writing community.

Jordyn Kieft

Editor & Staff Writer

Hey there! My name is Jordyn and I am a 23-year-old writer, reader, and lover of all things books (hence my role here at Germ)! I enjoy going on adventures, binge-watching TV shows, and learning new things! For Germ, I am one of the editors! My job is to help my amazing writers create articles for our readers! I also write my own articles for Germ using topics such as mental health, writing, and adventures! Check out my author Instagram if you want to learn more about me and stay up to date on my writing and other projects!

Mauli Chopra

Social Media Director, Editor & Staff Writer

Hello to all the lovely readers! My name is Mauli ‘May’ Chopra and I’m currently a college student in New York City, pursuing Writing and Environmental Science as my majors. I’m a staff writer and editor here at Germ, in addition, I also run the magazine’s Instagram account!

I first read All the Bright Places the summer before HS started and fell in love with reading Germ Magazine since then! When I’m not reading or writing, you can usually find me sleeping or where the sun is shining.

A fun fact about me is that I’m an environmentalist who leads an eco-friendly lifestyle. I enjoy journaling, reading memoirs, hanging out with my two dogs, Taylor Swift’s music, and talking about politics. I credit my passion for literature to my immigrant parents who inspire me to pursue what makes me the best version of myself. 

Germ Staff Writers

Tiana Frias

Hi! My name is Tiana and I’m from Massachusetts. I’m currently studying English and minoring in Creative Writing, and I plan to work in publishing after college. I currently write for my school’s HerCampus chapter and have written for school newspapers. I love writing opinions and personal pieces to give a real life perspective on topics. If I’m not writing, you can find me reading (preferably at the beach), at the gym or hanging with my dogs!

Avery Markle

My name is Avery, and I’m a writer, singer dreamer, musician, and nature lover. Thanks to my incredibly supportive dad, I have been reading since I was two years old, and began writing at three. Art has always been constant in my life, so much so that I have written countless short stories, poems, songs, and even an unreleased novel! One of the most important things in my life currently is my band, Lady Anemoia. I am the singer and primary songwriter in the group, and through this journey I have learned to love being able to express my stories and feelings while onstage. When I’m not writing or strumming my guitar, you can find me in any antique store, nature trail, library, or even historical cemetery, dreaming of so many different lives I have never known.

Beth Portnoy

HI! I’m Beth (she/her/they/them), a staff writer at Germ, a poet and writer. I’m in high school in New Jersey, USA, graduating in 2024 with a humanities concentration, and currently stressing about college applications. I published my debut poetry book, Lorem Ipsum Dolor (which is Latin for The Pain Itself) in August 2022, and have since released another poetry book named The Sunday of Summer (2022) and a fantasy short story collection called The Seven Parodied Tropes (2022). I am also working on my next poetry collection, Rough, set for release.November 2023. When I’m not writing, I’m often found experimenting with hair dye, reading nearly anything I can get my hands on, teaching the art of swim, and doomscrolling my instagram. I am accompanied by the cutest dog in the world, a Standard Poodle named Umka (which means smartie!). I can be found on Instagram and TikTok under @bethportnoywrites. 


I am a film student originally from India who is currently based in LA. Sharing stories through visuals and crafting narratives one frame at a time. I have worked on several poetry anthologies and am the author of sci-fi novella Underscore_. Filmmaker by day, Content Writer by night, I’m a university student juggling life.

Alanna Manning

My name is Alanna, and I’ve been obsessed with creating for as long as I can remember. If something involved being creative, I always wanted to be part of it. I absolutely love writing short stories and scripts, and I am currently working on writing a novel! I enjoy acting and filmmaking. I hope to one day adapt my writing to film. I also can’t live without music. I feel like I’m always either listening to music or playing the flute or piano. In my free time, you can find me reading and hanging out with my two rescue dogs, Charlie and Dennis. 🙂

Ilana Gunson

Hey everyone, I’m Ilana! I’m nineteen years old, and though I’m originally from London, England, I’m living in Tampa and going to college at USF. I have always loved to read. I began writing extensively at a young age, and it just kind of stuck. I’m always working on one kind of writing project or another, and I’m honored to share some of them with you! 

Jodie Price

I’m Jodie and I’m from the UK. I work in social media and have two degrees (not as impressive as it sometimes sounds) in English based subjects. I love books and the escapism you can find in them – you can live a thousand lifetimes and that’s what I like about writing too. I write a lot of poetry about grief and mental health as well as YA fiction. I also love writing letters. I think getting post is just one of the best feelings. I love words, and letters are a very real part of how I show love as well as a way to process the world around me. You can usually find me on a beach, surrounded by dogs, researching family trees, or with the people I love most. 

Shaina Marrie Dayon

Hi, there! I’m Shaina Marrie Dayon—according to Google, my first and middle name combined would mean either “beautiful drop of the sea” or “beautiful beloved”. But you may call me Yna (ee-na). I’m currently studying BS Psychology, and one of the things that really motivated me to take it up was All The Bright Places. Other than reading and writing, I also dabble with lettering and watercolor painting—and sometimes, I like to think that I have potential in photography (but do I really?). In my mind, I’m constantly frolicking in an endless sea of vibrant blossoms—perhaps under a watercolor sky or with the rain kissing my skin. 

Kayla Jackson

Hello, my name is Kayla Jackson. I use she/her pronouns and as of writing this I am 21 years old. I grew up in the Bay Area in San Francisco, California, and I have loved writing and reading ever since I can remember! Some fun facts about me are that I enjoy all kinds of stories (books, shows, movies, video games, fanfiction, dnd, etc!). And I’m so excited to learn and grow through Germ! Feel free to reach me on my Instagram @/kaykayjj22 where I post poems when I can! Thanks so much!

Mihara Minsadi

Hi! My name is Mihara and I am a teen author. My goal is to write inspiring and thought-provoking stories that will hopefully help a lot of people lead better lives and figure out who they truly are and what they want in life. I have published my first book recently and I am planning on publishing many more! I hope that my work inspires you! 

Soyeenka Mishra

I am Soyeenka, a 20-year-old writer and dreamer from India. I am a student of English Literature with a penchant for delving into various languages. My perpetual quest for fiction that can teleport me out of reality often leads me into consuming all sorts of various media that tell a story. Getting deeply immersed in the lives of fictional others? Sign me up stat, please! I’m a lover of all things fantastical and yet I can never pass on a good slice-of-life or romance. Writing came to me long before a love of reading nurtured in me. Previously, I have written for The Ruskin Journal and have had poetry published in anthologies, while many other works remain unpublished in my vault. When I’m not fangirling over my favourite fictional characters and singers, I can be found bobbing my head along to music with my daydream-tinted glasses on with my nose buried in a particularly riveting read. You can find more of my works on my personal blog, Ignez Fatui!

Sophia Dublin

In my free time, you will likely find me in one of these places: -a cafe, sitting in the corner where the sun hits my back best. -one of my best friend’s dorm rooms. -my bed

… and I am probably doing one of these things: -writing a paper or a song, and eating some sort of carb. -making a playlist matching my feelings about the latest inconvenience in life. -watching hockey — go Sens and Avs! (the Canucks too, as a Vancouverite, but that’s a redacted statement until the draft lottery)

Lana Day

Hi my name’s Lana Day and I’m 16 years old. I’m from Connecticut and I love many things such as Hello Kitty, music, reading, and above all — my family. I enjoy doing my makeup and I have a pretty bold fashion sense. I really enjoy watching true crime and various legal networks — hoping to become a defense attorney in the future! I also really, really love nature. I have 5 cats, a dog, and the absolute light of my life, a snake. But most importantly I have a passion for writing and I’m so happy to be sharing my passion with everyone on GERM!

Nicole Burton

My name’s Nicole. I’m 27 years old and graduated from California State University of Long Beach with a BA in English Creative Writing and a minor in Sociology. My passion for reading is what drove me to find a home in writing, whether it’s fictional or personal. I believe there is a rawness in writing about yourself and your experiences, I choose to write to let others know that whatever it is they are suffering with they’re not alone. I have and still struggle daily with my mental health, and it’s okay to be vulnerable— to be heard.

Laura Roman-Rantz

Hi! My name is Laura (she/her/hers) and I am an aspiring writer, public speaker, and activist. I specialize in creative nonfiction and use writing as a platform to share my day-to-day struggles in the form of stories. A lot of my work is heavily inspired by the art of songwriting; I experiment with style and structure to invoke certain emotions that reveal the complexities behind living as a Survivor of sex-related crimes. Aside from Germ, I spend most of my time either on campus, working on my novel, or doing something fun with my husband! If you’d like to follow my work, I have an Instagram page: @rmnrntz. Happy reading!

Jordan O’Halloran

My name is Jordan O’Halloran (she, her) and I live in northern California. I self-published my first book, Clean Up on Aisle Three, in December of last year and am currently working on 3 other projects. I teach writing classes weekly in my small community and am constantly thinking of the next best first line. I’m a huge advocate for kindness, bright colors, and mental health. When I’m not writing, you can find me napping with my cat, painting, or daydreaming about the ocean. Find me on Instagram and Facebook: @jordanjotsjoy

Rowan Wegner

“Is today a good day to write? Is today the day? And if not today, when?”

Variation of one of the quotes from my favorite book, All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven, creator of this very website, GERM Magazine!

Hello, my name is Rowan! I’m going to be 25 this year. I work full-time as an activity leader at a day center for individuals with disabilities, part-time as a cashier at Menards, and in my free time I love to write.

Writing has always been an escape and way to express myself as long as I can remember. Whether it’s venting in a journal, responding to prompts in a prompt book, jotting down random thoughts or expressing myself through poetry, I’ve always connected to words. English has always been one of my favorite subjects, along with psychology! I’d consider my writing style as modern poetry that I try to have be relatable to those reading it and have them resonate with it, kinda pulls at the heart strings but leaves myself and my readers hopeful at the end of my poems.

Other facts about me: I have 4 sisters who are my best friends, a fiancé who I love, our dog who we still call our puppy, I’ve recently been diagnosed with ADHD (a topic I often write about involving how it affects me and has affected me), my favorite band at the moment is Blue October, I’m from Wisconsin, and my top favorite movies are Practical Magic; Perks of Being a Wallflower, and King of Staten Island.

I’m very excited to be a part of the GERM team and can’t wait to share my writings with you!

Serena Mower

Hi there! I’m a twenty-one-year-old writer, poet, and full-time hopeless romantic from Maine. My writing tends to focus on topics involving love, mental health, and the LGBTQ+ community, but I usually follow where inspiration takes me. I’m currently working on a Computer Science Major and Creative Writing Minor from Worcester Polytechnic Institute. When I’m not reading or writing, you can find me scream-singing to songs in the car, pointing out every dog I see, and pretending I know anything about painting or photography. I’m fascinated by languages (I’ve started ten different ones on Duolingo), and I’m excited to explore the world and write about all the different things I see. My dream is to one day introduce myself as a published author, even if only one of my many novel ideas pans out.

Sydnee Cohen

My name is Sydnee and I am so excited to be a writer for Germ! My creativity cannot be contained, and I find my outlets in writing, reading, crocheting, and any DIY project I might see online. As I explore my world and possibilities, writing a short story or even a to-do list is my number one comfort. My second being rewatching the same five movies on a constant loop.

Madyson Harmon

Hello all lovely readers! My name is Madyson, but most people call me M or Mady. I am a fur momma to two fuzzies named Goob (a Shih Tzu) and Nugget (an orange and white kitty). I work full time in an E.R. as a Peer Recovery Coach to help those battling addiction and mental health. When I’m not working I’m painting and writing or going to school for Psychology.


Hey! I’m Lana (sometimes I use the pseudonym Lancelot) and I’m a teen writer who has too many works in progress (I am never without them) and two finished novels. My favorite genres include murder mystery, crime, queer fiction, and everything Agatha Christie has ever written. I have a deep interest in reading and writing about obsession and pain among other intense emotions. I also write (and read) poetry, often depicting dark themes (such as death, murder, loss, and pain). I started writing at a young age, discovering the joy of its escapism, and have seriously committed to my writing in the past 5 years, embedding it into my soul. Needless to say, I long for the day when I can finally publish any of my works and be able to say that I’ve finally made it. And even if I don’t, the pursuit of my passion will always be enough.

Fransivan MacKenzie

I am a storyteller born and raised in the Philippines. I am the author of Out of the Woods and Departures. My works have also appeared in Transition MagazineThe RacketJaden MagazineAbandon JournalCP Quarterly Review, and elsewhere. I am currently taking my Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology at Philippine Normal University – Manila. I love warm coffee and quiet mornings, the fragility of flowers, and the dizzying vastness of the night sky. You may find out more about me on my website.

Jennie Byrne

Hey there! My name’s Jennie, by day I’m the Head of Content for a tech startup company, by night I’m a reader and writer based in the north west of England. I have a first-class MA degree in Creative Writing from Edge Hill University. My work has appeared in Tears in the Fence, Ink, Sweat & Tears, datableedzine and Versopolis Review among others. I was shortlisted for the MA Edge Hill Short Story Prize 2018 and was longlisted for the erbacce prize for poetry 2018 and the Saveas International Poetry Competition 2022. I previously worked for Edge Hill University Press helping to edit and promote an anthology of poetry and poetics entitled Atlantic Drift. Find me on TikTokYouTube and Instagram

Lara Lustemberg

I’m Lara, staff writer at GERM, and student film and literature studies in Leiden, Netherlands. I’ve been making up stories for as long as I can remember, and after falling in love with reading again, I realized this is what I want to do for the rest of my life. When I’m not reading or writing a book, you can find me at the cinema or watching an old or new movie at home.

Grace Korynta

Hi there! I’m Grace and I am so happy to be a part of the Germ family. I honestly cannot believe it, reading about Germ Magazine in a book world that Jennifer Niven created and now to be writing for it feels like a dream, and I am so grateful. I live in San Diego, California, with my husband and my dog, whom I adore. Life wouldn’t be the same without those two. I am currently writing my first book all about grief and trauma and love and loss, and all things in between. I love putting pen to paper and letting my thoughts live outside of my brain – it is so therapeutic for me. I hope you find meaning in the writings you find here at Germ. We’re all in this together. Thank you for being here. 

Luísa D’Araujo

My name is Luísa, 22 years old and I am from Brazil, but I am currently studying civil engineering in Portugal. Since I was a little girl I was encouraged to read by my aunt, and one of the most important books was The Little Prince. I have great affection for this book. When I discovered All the Bright Places it was the antidote I needed to understand what I was going through, and this book had a great impact on me. I started writing poetry as a way of being honest with myself and my feelings and exposing them in some way. It was something very intimate until I tried something that my mother says is a gift, and I believe that it really is through my writing and my sensitivity and honesty with words that many can identify themselves even if they do not know what they are going through. This is the greatest return I could have, to be an escape in the lives of people in the midst of this madness of life.

Shana Huang

Hi! My name is Shana and I am an undergraduate student majoring in English Rhetoric and Professional Writing at Washington State University. I am also pursuing a bachelor’s in Digital Technology and Culture, a minor in Creative Writing, and a certificate in Editing and Publishing. In addition to being a staff writer for Germ, I currently serve as an executive genre editor for two literary journals at WSU. Growing up, I loved reading all forms of literature, especially fiction and poetry. As a result, writing became a major passion of mine, and when I was six, I wrote my first story! I’m excited to share my writing with everyone!

Fendy Lai

My name is Fendy Lai. I’ve lived my 20 years in Chile and I have two Taiwanese parents, so I can speak spanish, english and chinese 🙂 As a little girl, me and my friends used to write novels or short stories as a hobby, and then I started to read more and more, until I found All the Bright Places. This book had such an impact in my life that I continuously go back to it, for comfort, for melancholy, for yearning… It has helped me with my major depression, and I’m glad we all can enjoy the pleasure of not being alone when reading this book. Thank you so much, Jennifer!

Rachel Lachmansingh

I am a Guyanese-Canadian writer from Toronto. My fiction and poetry have been published extensively. I was most recently a finalist for the 2022 CBC Poetry Prize and longlisted for the 2022 CBC Short Story Prize. I hold a BA in creative writing from the University of Victoria.

Paula Jiménez Yanguas

Hello !! I’m paula. I’m a Spanish journalism student, I’ve written since I was a little girl, and Germ is my first experience publishing my work. I love music and traveling, always have been and will be a fan girl, and I’m so excited to share a tiny part of my brain with y’all. So much love!