“The Glass City,” a short story by Jen Knox, appeared in our Summer ’16 issue and can be read here.
I enjoy writing about Ohio, my hometown. My grandmother lives in Toledo, which is known as “The Glass City” because it was a central location for the U.S. glass industry and headquarters to many leading manufacturers. The city has suffered some major economic setbacks, which were visible the last time I visited, but it seems focused on growth and is already a hub for solar power tech and innovation. Midwesterners are nothing if not resilient. I began thinking about Toledo as a setting for a story during that visit. I was also thinking about natural disasters, how surviving a communal misfortune (i.e., a drought) can spur innovation and social connectivity. I wanted to explore the idea in the story, so that’s how it began – with an idea and a setting. The characters came to life and the dynamics took form as I wrote.
What was the most difficult part about writing “Glass City?”
I work a lot. A lot! So any spare moment I can grab, I write. This piece was the result of a full day off, and my challenge was completing the first draft in that precious day. My husband was out of town, and I spent quite a few hours writing paragraphs and deleting paragraphs. I revised it over the next few weeks, but the meat of the thing came together in that (again, precious) day. There was also the physical problem of this manic writing: I usually stand when I write, so my legs were rather tired by the end of it.
Recommend a book for us which was published within the last decade.
I recommend Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels, specifically My Brilliant Friend.
If you could have a drink with any living author, who would it be?
I’d like to have a drink with Margaret Atwood because I think we’d hit it off. She seems as grounded as she is brilliant. I tend to separate the writer from the writing and admire people for who they are/the writing for what it is.
What are you working on now? What’s next?
I released a collection of short stories in 2015 titled After the Gazebo, and I hope to publish a new collection within the next two years. This next collection will be fabulist fiction, which I’m excited about. I am also shopping a novel. I post updates on my website: www.jenknox.com
Our thanks to Jen for taking the time to answer a few questions and share her work. Read Jen’s short story, “The Glass City,” here: www.sequestrum.org/fiction-by-jen-knox-the-glass-city.
Jen Knox is the author of After the Gazebo (Rain Mountain Press, 2015), and her short work can be found in The Adirondack Review, The Bombay Literary Magazine, Cleaver Magazine, Cosmonauts Avenue, Crannóg Magazine, Gargoyle Magazine, Istanbul Review, Room, and The Saturday Evening Post. She grew up in Ohio and now lives in San Antonio, where she teaches writing and directs the Writers-in-Communities Program at Gemini Ink. Find Knox here: http://www.jenknox.com