36 Books Blog: Mindy Mejia

Each day leading up to the 2019 Minnesota Book Awards Ceremony, we’ll be featuring an exclusive interview with one of our 36 finalists. Learn more about these incredible local writers and gear up to see the winners announced live in person April 6.

Interview with Mindy Mejia, author of Leave No Trace

Category: Genre Fiction, sponsored by Macalester College

How does it feel to be a Minnesota Book Award finalist?

I’m ecstatic. As a born and bred Minnesotan who is fully aware of the array of talented voices we have in our literary landscape, the Minnesota Book Awards have always meant a lot to me. I always create TBR lists out of the finalists, and I’m delighted that my work might be included in someone else’s ‘to be read’ books now because of this honor.

Tell us something about your finalist book that you want readers to know.

Leave No Trace pairs the physical wilderness of the Boundary Waters with the emotional wilderness of losing a parent. It’s a story about disappearance and what, if anything, can be reclaimed when someone we love is lost.

Let us know a little bit about your writing life. What brought you to a writing career and how did you become a published author?

I’ve always had stories rumbling around my head, narratives that I inhabited more fully than my own life. It was a bit of a surprise, actually, to learn that not everyone spent their days in elaborate fictional worlds. I went back to school for my MFA in writing at Hamline University and my thesis project, The Dragon Keeper, became my first published novel. I haven’t looked back since.

Minnesota is often ranked highly as a state that values literature and reading. In your experience, what is it about our state that makes it such a welcoming place for writers and book creators?

Murderous weather and mediocre sports teams? How are we all not crime writers?  In all seriousness, though, Minnesota provides the resources for writers to flourish. From our schools and libraries to the number of independent bookstores, publishers, grants, and programs, this state offers endless support, inspiration, and opportunity for writers in all stages of their careers. Then there’s the quiet beauty of the land itself, offering the physical and mental space to nurture every creative impulse.

What is something you are good at that few people know about?

I’m researching kickboxing for my next book, and I’ve learned how to throw a wicked cross punch-roundhouse combination.

What do you love about libraries?

Libraries meet everyone exactly where they are. They meet toddlers with story time and crafts; they meet kids with summer reading challenges and prizes; they meet students with study rooms, teens with technology, and voracious readers with overflowing reserve shelves. They’re a safe space, a quiet nook, a gateway to answers. I could keep talking for days and days, but what I love most about libraries is that I’m always better after I’ve spent time inside one.

About Mindy Mejia
Mindy Mejia’s internationally acclaimed heartland noir novels have been translated into over twenty languages. She’s the author of The Dragon Keeper and Everything You Want Me To Be, which was a People’s Best New Books Pick and listed in The Wall Street Journal’s Best New Mysteries. Her latest novel, the Barry Award nominated Leave No Trace, is on sale now. A graduate of the Hamline University MFA program, she lives and works in the Twin Cities. You can find out more at MindyMejia.com.