Published March 16, 2020

We invite you to get to know Jeff Mann, editor of LGBTQ Fiction and Poetry from Appalachia. Mann has published three poetry chapbooks, five full-length books of poetry, three collections of personal essays, a volume of memoir and poetry, three novellas, six novels, and three collections of short fiction. The winner of two Lambda Literary Awards, he teaches at Virginia Tech.

What books have you read recently that have made an impact on you?

Mann: I’ve been rereading The Poetic Edda and assorted Icelandic sagas, since I’m co-teaching a course on Old Norse Literature at Virginia Tech this spring semester of 2020.  I’ve also been reading Julia Watts’ novels, since they’re humorous and poignant and really capture what it’s like to be gay or lesbian in Appalachia.

If you could make everyone in the world read one book, which would it be?

Beowulf.

Do you have a routine you follow when you start writing a book?

I do research and make notes and outlines. Then I let it all sit a bit and read some work by authors I find inspiring before trying to start writing new material.

What was your favorite part about writing your latest book?

My favorite part about writing Endangered Species: A Surly Bear in the Bible Belt was working external sources into my own writing to support my opinions, especially when it came to provocative topics.

Where do you prefer to do your writing?

I can’t write anywhere but at home. The fact that some writers can get work done in coffee shops and other public places amazes me. I need quiet and solitude… or solitude and some of my favorite instrumental music.

What are you working on next?

I’m about two-thirds of the way through a collection of poems based on the Elder Futhark, a set of Norse runes, writing three poems for each of the twenty-four runes. After that, I plan to write a trilogy of novels “queering” the Viking Age, with two protagonists, one gay and one lesbian. I already have all three novels plotted out.

What advice would you give to beginning writers?

Write what you please, even if it’s controversial. If it is controversial, steel yourself for negative responses, but keep in mind that negative responses are no reason not to write what you believe. Also, keep your expectations reasonable and/or low when it comes to sales and recognition. The world will, for the most part, not care about what you publish.

Jeff Mann was scheduled to take part in the 2020 Virginia Festival of the Book. You can learn more about his work by clicking here, and you can order his books from a local bookseller by clicking here

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