36 Finalists Blog: John Medeiros

John Medeiros, author of Self, Divided

Memoir & Creative Nonfiction Category, sponsored by Bradshaw Celebration of Life Centers

Each week leading up to the 34th annual Minnesota Book Awards Ceremony, we are featuring exclusive interviews with our 36 finalists. You can also watch the authors in conversation with their fellow category finalists here.

Would you tell us one or two things about your finalist book that you are particularly proud of, and why?

This book took years to finalize, and I’m happy I was able to share it with my sister, who passed away from breast cancer shortly after it was published. 

What do you hope that your audience learns or takes away from your book?

That we are all connected to others around us, and it is important –and vital — for us to understand and appreciate those connections. 

What advice would you give to an aspiring writer with an interest in your category? 

Stay true to the integrity of your book. There will be those who tell you it should change in one way, and those who will tell you it should be revised in another. There are revisions that make sense, but understand the integrity of the book as a whole and never compromise that. 

Tell us something about yourself that is not widely known.

That I initially went to college as an engineering major because I loved math. 

Minnesota enjoys a reputation as a place that values literature and reading. If this sentiment rings true for you, what about our home state makes it such a welcoming and conducive place for writers? 

We have an extremely vibrant queer writing community here, and it continues to thrive. Many of the finalists this year were part of the Queer Voices reading series, a series highlighting LGBTQA authors, and I am so happy to see them flourish! 

Since the onset of the pandemic in early 2020, virtually everything about our lives has changed in some way. Has COVID-19 (and its fallout) impacted your writing habits and preferences? Has the unique zeitgeist of the past two years influenced your writing output in any other ways that you can pinpoint? 

Yes. My memoir is about finding identity and individuality while I am being infused with billions of my brother’s genes as part of an HIV study. It was challenging to revise this during COVID, having to revisit all the feelings of despair and hopelessness of the HIV virus while living in the midst of the COVID pandemic. As I say in the book’s prologue, it’s hard to shake the feeling that one should not have to face a global pandemic more than once in a lifetime. 

John Medeiros is the author of couplets for a shrinking world and co-editor of Queer Voices: Poetry, Prose, and Pride. He is the recipient of two Minnesota State Arts Board grants and has received several awards.