Contributor Spotlight: Jennifer Fandel

Fandel photo b&wJennifer Fandel’s poem “Ruin” appears in Midwestern Gothic Issue 7, out now.

How long have you been writing?
Since I was a kid, but seriously once I went to college (which sadly is 20 years ago). But I had a rough eight or so years when I didn’t write much, and I’ve been happily out of that funk for a few years now.

What’s your connection to the Midwest?
I’m from northwestern Wisconsin (a shout out to my hometown of Eau Claire!) and have lived up and down the Mississippi River corridor (Louisiana, Minnesota, Illinois, Missouri) since I left Wisconsin at age 24. I identify myself as a Midwesterner, and I can’t imagine being anything

How has the Midwest influenced your writing?
I write a lot about landscapes and the people, places, and cultures that inhabit those landscapes. I moved to St. Louis just two years ago, and I love the tension I feel here in the middle of the country. Gateway to the West and straddling the north-south divide, St. Louis, has a little of everything. It definitely inspires me, but in severe heat does make me long for fog rolling in off Lake Superior.

Why do you believe there has never really been a regionalist push for Midwestern writing in the past like there has with the South or even the West Coast?
I think that the Midwest suffers from a self-esteem problem, and the generally humble types who live in the Midwest don’t often help the situation. At the same time, a lot of writers like the Midwest for the solitude they can find there, and they don’t want a mass of outsiders who don’t understand the Midwest, its people, and its customs messing things up!

But none of these are good reasons. Maybe we’ve all needed this push toward the local due to the economy to see what’s right in front of us. And maybe we needed someone to start a magazine focused on the Midwest to push us to discuss it. I’d love, actually, to be a bigger part of this conversation.

How do you feel about social media to promote your writing, and do you use it?
I do use Facebook to promote my writing and readings, but I do it with trepidation because it feels attention-hogish (especially when I don’t participate as fully in my own friends’ postings).

At the same time, I like the democratic aspect of it—that high school acquaintances who decided to “friend” me might actually read a poem of mine online. It hasn’t happened as far as I know, but I’m holding out hope!

Favorite book?
Don Quixote.

Favorite food?
Chocolate, extra dark.

If you could have coffee (or tea or a beer) with any literary figure, alive or dead, who would it be?
My automatic response is Mark Twain because he continues to surprise me. But if he couldn’t make it, I’d pick Philip Larkin, even though I have a feeling that he might not be the most pleasant of people.

Where can we find more information about you?
I have a website for my freelance business and my creative work (where my heart is, even if it doesn’t pay!). It’s I’d love for people to check it out!

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