Writers and Storytelling: Melissa Febos

Written by Erin Cox

Posted on March 3, 2021

Filed Under: Blog

The writer Melissa Febos (USA), New York, New York, June 19, 2020. Photograph © Beowulf Sheehan

Melissa Febos is the author of the forthcoming Girlhood, as well as Whip Smart and Abandon Me, a Lambda Literary Award finalist and Publishing Triangle Award finalist. Her essays have appeared in Tin HouseThe BelieverThe New York Times, and elsewhere. Febos is the inaugural winner of the Jeanne Córdova Prize for Lesbian/Queer Nonfiction from Lambda Literary and the recipient of fellowships from The MacDowell Colony, The BAU Institute, The Barbara Deming Foundation, Vermont Studio Center, Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, The Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, and others. She is an associate professor at The University of Iowa, where she teaches in the Nonfiction Writing Program

On March 23rd, Melissa will join Mary H. K. Choi, Avi Loeb, and Nic Stone in our next edition of “Seriously Entertaining” where they will each tell stories tied to the theme “From This Moment On.” Register here for the show!

What are you reading right now for solace or escape or entertainment?

Flynn Berry’s new novel: Northern Spyin my leisure time (insofar as it exists). I like to read mysteries, but my standards really narrow the options in the genre: I only want to read really well-written mysteries that subvert the usual tropes of a bunch of white men standing around a murdered white woman’s corpse, on some kind of hero’s journey. Berry is one of my favorites, especially her first book, Under the Harrow.

If you could live inside a fictional world, which one would you choose?

I already spend so much time in fictional worlds, and always have, I’m actually trying to find better footing in this one.

Are there any quotes you use to inspire you?

“Yielding at every moment to the perfect freedom of a single necessity,” from Annie Dillard, returns to me a lot. It speaks to the way I aspire to do everything that matters to me, primarily writing and loving.

What writer would you like to share with the world and why?

If you haven’t read Octavia Butler, especially her Xenogenesis trilogy, do, do, do. It is the perfect combination of enrapturing and thought-provoking.

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