Long Distance with Kelli Jo Ford

Debut novelist Kelli Jo Ford shares from Crooked Hallelujah and discusses craft and the role of music and faith in her fiction, as well as which authors inspire her writing.

In this episode of Long Distance, Literary Arts’ Amanda Bullock interviews debut novelist Kelli Jo Ford. Ford’s Crooked Hallelujah (on sale now!) is a novel-in-stories which depicts a family of proud, stubborn, Cherokee women as they sacrifice for those they love, amid larger forces of history, religion, class, and culture. It is a big-hearted and ambitious novel of the powerful bonds between mothers and daughters.

Ford and Bullock dive into a discussion about writing craft: How the idea for this work came together, and how Ford found ways to connect the threads of the narratives of the main characters. Ford shares some writers whom she admires, speaks to how her writing is inspired by music, and explores the role that religion and faith plays for her characters. And, of course, they chat about our world’s current dystopian reality, and what it’s like to release a debut novel amid a global pandemic.


Kelli Jo Ford is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. She is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships, including the Paris Review’s Plimpton Prize, the Everett Southwest Literary Award, the Katherine Bakeless Nason Award at Bread Loaf, a National Artist Fellowship by the Native Arts & Cultures Foundation, and a Dobie Paisano Fellowship. Her fiction has appeared in the Paris ReviewVirginia Quarterly ReviewMissouri Review, and the anthology Forty Stories: New Writing from Harper Perennial, among other places.


Books recommended by Kelli Jo Ford in this episode:
Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich
Normal People Don’t Live Like This by Dylan Landis
Birds of America by Lorrie Moore
Lakewood by Megan Giddings


Portland-based independent bookstores to shop Crooked Hallelujah and other titles:
Powell’s Books
Broadway Books
Annie Bloom’s Books
Third Eye Books

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