5 Questions with Morgan Thomas, Author of Manywhere

Feb 7, 2022

author photo of morgan thomas

Morgan Thomas’s work has appeared in The Atlantic, The Kenyon Review, American Short Fiction, VICE, Electric Literature, Ploughshares, them., and StoryQuarterly, where their story won the 2019 Fiction Prize. They are the recipient of a Bread Loaf Work-Study Grant, a Fullbright Grant, the Penny Wilkes Scholarship in Writing and the Environment, and the winner of the inaugural Southern Studies Fellowship in Arts and Letters. They have also received fellowships from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference and the Arctic Circle. A graduate of the University of Oregon MFA program, they live in Portland. Their newest book is Manywhere: Stories published by MCD/FSG.

They will be discussing Manywhere with special guest K-Ming Chang in our City Lights LIVE! virtual event series on Tuesday, February 8th, 2022!

Where are you writing to us from

Spartanburg, SC, where I live with my partner and 26 plants, one of them named Bernard. 

What has been most important for you, personally/artistically/habitually, during the pandemic?

Backpacking, especially in the Oregon Cascade and Coast ranges. Also, virtual community. A few friends and I watched terrible monster movies over Zoom at the start of the pandemic, and the ritual of that, the gathering and the laughter, lifted me in those months.

Which writers, artists, and others influence your work in general, and this book, specifically?

While writing Manywhere, I was influenced by the eloquent Gulf Coast descriptions in Jesmyn Ward’s Salvage the Bones. I was also influenced by Akwaeke Emezi’s Freshwater, T Fleischmann’s Time is the Thing a Body Moves Through, Rivers Solomon’s An Unkindness of Ghosts and Jordy Rosenberg’s Confessions of the Fox. These books made it possible for me to think and write about gender in new, more nuanced ways.

What books are you reading right now and would you recommend any to others? 

Currently, I’m reading Kendra Allen’s The Collection Plate, a beautiful book of poems, which I’d absolutely recommend.

If you opened a bookstore, where would it be located, what would it be called, and what would your bestseller be?

I’d open a bookstore in my hometown on the Florida Gulf Coast and call it The Moldy Cover, because it’s so humid down there. I don’t know what would sell best, but when I think of coastal, watery books Rachel Carson’s The Sea Around Us and Rivers Solomon’s The Deep both come to mind.


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