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Growing up, I never saw my hometown mentioned in books. As a kid living in the Ohio River Valley, Narnia and Middle Earth seemed just as real to me as New York City or San Francisco. They were all places that seemed to exist only in my imagination.
When I left for college in Greenville, South Carolina, I always intended on going back home. But by the time I finished my M.A., I realized the place I left wasn’t there anymore. I wasn’t the only thing that had changed. Appalachia had changed too. Whether I liked it or not, for me, there was no moving back.
When I visit home, people seem all too ready to remind me that I’m a guest. I’m too progressive, too outspoken, too different. It’s hard to love a place that doesn’t seem to love you back. Every time I go home, my heart breaks a little more. But when I look out at the Ohio River brushing up against the hills, I know I won’t feel at home anywhere else. I know Appalachia is worth fighting for.
Almost two years ago, I started Read Appalachia because I kept looking for Bookstagram accounts that specialized in Appalachian Literature. I’d spent half a decade in the book industry full of people from major cities who think it’s funny to make jokes about whether Appalachian people can even read. I kept seeing Appalachian indie presses having to fight incredibly hard for their books to be seen as more than just “regional” literature.
Appalachian Literature is a complex, beautiful art, full of universals, just like any other literature. With Read Appalachia, I hope to give more Appalachian readers a chance to see themselves in books, and I want to see more Appalachian authors celebrated for their work.
From the beginning, I’ve wanted to turn Read Appalachia into a podcast, but it never seemed like the right time. However, at the end of 2021, my podcast ended its six season run, and I began thinking about my next project. It seemed like the perfect time to get the ball rolling.
Read Appalachia will launch as a monthly podcast in early 2023. And I can’t wait to get started.
Things I Made Recently
Throughout August, I focused on content for women in translation month. So here is the content that went up in ALL the places!
I was a guest over on Book Riot’s Read or Dead podcast! Nusrah and I discussed mysteries and thrillers by women in translation.
I vlogged the first two weeks of Women in Translation month, complete with Corgi footage.