Featured Interview With Jendi Reiter
Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?
Raised by two mothers on the Lower East Side in New York City, I grew up in a home full of books, and always dreamed of being a professional author. (My last name is even pronounced “writer”!) The city’s diverse and ever-changing culture has influenced my work, but it became too hectic and expensive to live there as a creative artist. As a child, I fantasized about owning a Victorian house with a tower and a bay window in Western Massachusetts, where our family used to take vacations. Well, now I do! The cemetery across the street is a good place to walk off writer’s block.
At what age did you realize your fascination with books? When did you start writing?
I’ve been losing (or finding) myself in books from my earliest childhood years. Before I could write, I dictated poems to my parents about princesses and magic. Poetry was my first genre. I began publishing it professionally as a high school senior when one of my poems was reprinted in Best American Poetry, and other publications soon followed in journals such as Poetry and The Lyric. In my 30s, thanks to greater life experience and longer periods of time to write, I started learning the craft of fiction. Since 2001, my husband and I have operated WinningWriters.com, an online resource site for creative writers. Judging literary contests teaches me so much about the qualities of good writing.
Who are your favorite authors to read? What is your favorite genre to read. Who Inspires you in your writings?
My favorite genres at the moment are gay literary fiction and M/M, graphic novels, poetry, feminist and queer liberation theology, and science fiction. Authors who inspire me include the poets W.H. Auden, Anne Sexton, T.S. Eliot, Mark Doty, and Ariana Reines, and fiction writers Alexander Chee, Donna Tartt, George Saunders, Pat Conroy, and Wesley Stace. See more of my book recommendations on our WinningWriters.com useful resources pages:
Tell us a little about your latest book?
Two Natures (Saddle Road Press, 2016) is the spiritual coming-of-age story of Julian Selkirk, a fashion photographer beginning his career during the 1990s AIDS epidemic in New York City. Though success comes easily to him, he struggles to feel worthy of love because of his abusive childhood and social prejudice. At the time I started this book, my Christian community was being torn apart by the debate over affirming LGBTQ relationships and identities. Standing up for Julian made me clarify what I believed about love and knowing God for myself.
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