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What Denne Michele Norris Has Learned as a Writer and Editor

Hello friends!

This week on Ursa Short Fiction, we’re excited to bring you Deesha Philyaw and Dawnie Walton’s conversation with Denne Michele Norris, editor-in-chief of Electric Literature and author of the forthcoming debut novel, When The Harvest Comes (Random House). She is also the first Black, openly trans woman to helm a major literary publication.

Norris discusses her approaches to both writing and editing, sharing insights for writers on working with editors. She also talks about the ways different genres — from fiction to essay to memoir — all require their own approaches. Norris asks questions of herself and of the work, aiming to edit “ethically and responsibly and [tell] a beautiful story.”

Norris also talks about how her own writing has evolved, the role of community in her work, and her appreciation for the revision process. 

“One thing that I think will probably never change too much is that I’m so interested in Black queer lives and the tensions within masculinity, femininity, bodies and how all of those things are at work and at conversation with each other. But I think one of the big evolutions, which sort of mirrors my identity—I came out as a trans woman last year—is the fact that I am more explicit and more intentional about specifically transness in all of my fiction right now.”

Reading List: Stories and Writers Mentioned

About the Author 

Denne Michele Norris is the editor-in-chief of Electric Literature, winner of the 2022 Whiting Digital Literary Magazine Prize, where she is the first Black, openly trans woman to helm a major literary publication. A 2021 Out100 Honoree, her writing has been supported by MacDowell, Tin House, VCCA, and the Kimbilio Center for African American Fiction, and appears in McSweeney’sAmerican Short Fiction, and ZORA. She co-hosts the critically acclaimed podcast Food 4 Thot, and mentors emerging writers of color with The Periplus Collective. Her debut novel, When The Harvest Comes, is forthcoming from Random House. 

More from Deesha Philyaw and Dawnie Walton:


Associate producer: Marina Leigh

Episode editor: Kelly Araja

Executive producers: Dawnie Walton & Mark Armstrong

Author photo: Hilary Leichter

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