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Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow: Jason Mott’s past and present

Friday from the Archives: seeing the opportunity in tomorrow:” An Interview with Jason Mott
by Jennifer Larson
from NCLR Issue 28 (2019)

As we prepare for Jason Mott’s visit to ECU on March 2nd for his “Voyages of Discovery” discussion, we revisit Jennifer Larson’s interview with him in our 2019 issue.

In it, Larson asked Mott what he thought the future of Southern literature might be. Mott replied that the South “is a region that’s struggling to both define and understand itself. In the midst of those changes, I think some blistering new voices will emerge and stand as touchstones of a Southern writing tradition that is different than what we may know right now.” After winning the National Book Award for his 2021 novel Hell of a Book, it’s likely safe to say Mott himself is one of those blistering voices.

In addition to talking about Mott’s novels, screenplays, and adaption work from page to screen with ABC, they also delve into his thinking about writing. When Larsen asks about what has changed between his first novel and his most recent at the time, Mott said, “I’d say that I’ve become a little more aware of my voice as a writer. We spend years trying to figure out what we’re trying to say as writers, and while I still think there’s more for me to learn, I like to believe that in the last five years I’ve come to understand my own voice a bit better.”

They also touch on writing influences and outside reading. Mott said his “two biggest influences are John Gardner and William Golding” and that “even though I’m a fiction writer, about three-quarters of my reading is nonfiction. Maybe more. Science and philosophy are my favorites.” That certainly shows in the meta themes in his books. Mott reminds all writers how important reading is to the process of writing.

Read the 2019 issue featuring “North Carolina African American Literature” on ProQuest. And order the 2019 issue for your collection. Or join us at ECU for this reading, where we’ll have this issue available for purchase.