The Judith A. Markowitz Award for Exceptional New LGBTQ Writers recognizes LGBTQ-identified writers whose work demonstrates their strong potential for promising careers. The award includes a cash prize of $1,500.

Morgan Thomas is a writer from the Gulf Coast. Their work has appeared in The Atlantic, American Short Fiction, the Kenyon Review, and elsewhere. They’ve received support from the Bread Loaf Work-Study Program and the Fulbright Foundation. They are currently a Southern Studies Fellow in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

Are there any LGBTQ writers or books that you count as formative influences to you as a writer? How did you discover them?

Jeanette Winterson’s Oranges are Not the Only Fruit is the first book I remember realizing was a queer book. I immediately read other works by Winterson, drawn to the experiences of her protagonists, which felt akin to mine in a way I didn’t yet know how to name. Since then, many 2SLGTBQ+ writers have influenced my work—Rivers Solomon, Joshua Whitehead, Akwaeke Emezi, and Garth Greenwell to name just a few.

What does a writing day look like for you?

On the few and glorious days when I’m able just to write, I begin with a long walk. I think best while in motion. I’m living right now in South Carolina, so I walk mostly along the creeks and ridges of the Piedmont. Then I return home and write at my computer for a few hours. Evenings are set aside to read work that replenishes me.

Are there other LGBTQ writers working today whose work you particularly admire?

I’ve been especially excited lately by new work that exists at the intersections of ecological questions and queerness, particularly Renee Gladman’s Calamities and Aisha Sabatini Sloan’s Borealis. Riss Neilson’s debut YA novel Deep in Providence is also very magical, very queer, and very good.

What’s next for you?

I’m currently working on a novel that follows two siblings on their journey north from their flooded Florida home. The novel, called Lazarus Specimen, offers a genderqueer counter-narrative to The Grapes of Wrath, asking what white migration and colonization looks like in the ecologically queer 21st century.

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