Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Josh Weil

Josh Weil is the author of the novel The Great Glass Sea (Grove Atlantic, 2014) and the novella collection The New Valley (Grove Atlantic, 2009).

From his Q & A with James Scott at The Rumpus:

The Rumpus: What was the first inspiration for The Great Glass Sea? Where on the timeline with The New Valley did that happen?

Josh Weil: It’s so hard to trace first inspirations. For me, stories are often gestating for a long time and, even when they seem to come all of a sudden, they draw on things that have been circling my insides for a while. But there were some clear starts to what became this novel. There was the time I first heard about Russia’s experiments with mirrored satellites intended to carom sunlight down onto dark cities and rid those corners of the northern world of nighttime. I was in a cabin in Appalachia listening to the local NPR station and caught an interview with a professor at the local college: he’d written a book about the history of nighttime and mentioned, in passing, that the Russians had done this. And I thought: holy crap, that is crazy. I couldn’t get it out of my mind.

This was in, I think, 2005, when I heard the story. I wrote a couple stories that included elements of that and realized that I was working on a collection that sprang from it so, at first, The Great Glass Sea was meant to be a short story in that collection—ha! I know, a short story! I began work on it in the spring of 2008. I have an entry scribbled in my notebook from the time: “Will he ever get quiet house with his brother again? Just the two of them side by side for a long day? No wives, no children?” But by ‘began work’ I mean that I wrote the opening paragraph—not all that different from the one that remains—and then thought, Oh my God, I can’t do this, all Russian characters and an alternate present, half-fable and half-real—and I put it away. That was also about when I sold The New Valley.

That fall, I went down to the cabin in Appalachia again and lived there for seven or eight months and it was there, in the spring of 2009...[read on]
Writers Read: Josh Weil (July 2014).

The Page 69 Test: The Great Glass Sea.

--Marshal Zeringue