Gail Jeidy’s story “Mozart and Magnolias” appears in Midwestern Gothic Issue 13, out now.
How long have you been writing?
I began writing letters to my Grandma when I was four. Stamps featured Abe Lincoln then and were 4 cents so it’s been a few years.
What’s your connection to the Midwest?
I was born in Woodstock, Illinois, but moved away at age four and spent the bulk of my young life in Wisconsin. I grew up in Monroe (Swiss Cheese Capital of the World), graduated high school from Fennimore (home to Igor the giant cheese mouse), graduated college from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, taught art in Wautoma, then did grad school at UW-Madison before my westward-ho journey as a young woman. I’ve come back every summer and many Christmases since to connect with my family who all live in Wisconsin or Illinois. I feel an affinity with the Midwest people and landscape deep in my gut.
How has the Midwest influenced your writing?
I grew up on a dairy farm and attended a one-room schoolhouse. My pleasures were getting lost in cornfields, running alongside raging creeks during spring thaw, treasure-hunting for wild asparagus and family-time spent snapping string beans around the kitchen table. My early years gave me humility and a sense of grounding. My childhood was also a bit of a survival test, given I was the lone girl among three brothers. When we played cops and robbers, I was tied to the clothesline pole and left for dead — or staked to the ground, the twines around my wrists wetted so they’d pull taut in the hot summer sun: this helped me see amazing shapes in the clouds overhead. I survived the tumultuous teen years by walking in the woods every day. I’ve never lost sight of where I grew up, the people I grew up around and the creativity it fostered.
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’ve lived on the west coast for over 30 years now, mostly in Portland, Ore., and sense some folks have a narrow view of the Midwest as fly-over country or that place with awful politics or boring corn fields or too ordinary of lives. This has always gnawed at me, but, being from the Midwest, I haven’t said anything; instead, I’ve written about it. Maybe there’s no regional push for Midwest writing because we’re too polite.
How do you feel about social media to promote your writing, and do you use it?
I use facebook and occasional Twitter. I like to communicate when I have news to share. Generally not selfies.
I love books with a strong voice. Catcher in the Rye comes to mind first. And Ladder of Years by Anne Tyler.
Spring greens salad full of great stuff like pine nuts. Also popcorn with cheese.
If you could have coffee (or tea or a beer) with any literary figure, alive or dead, who would it be?
It would have to be Mark Twain. Coffee or beer on a Mississippi river boat would be ideal. I’d put up with mosquitoes for that.
Where can we find more information about you?
Google me and it will turn up some of my stories. I have a blog, The Hero’s Journey at gailjeidy.blogspot.com, which profiles my walk through breast cancer last year. I also have a website www.soclever.com.