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?Writers Read: Josh Weil (July 2014).
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]
The Page 69 Test: The Great Glass Sea.