Joan Hanna: We were so excited to have “The Warning” included in our July/Asia issue. Can you share a little about the inspiration for this story?
Jen Knox: My inspiration was experience. I was walking one morning when a woman pulled over to tell me to be careful outside this early, and that she’d seen a man. That was all she said. She drove off, and I was baffled. At first I thought, if you were really worried about me, lady, offer me a ride or something! But then, as I walked, I began to look behind me and after a little while I was hyper-aware. My fight or flight response had kicked in, and yet I had no real danger in view. I thought the dynamic was intriguing and I wanted to investigate it further.
JH: This story deals, on so many levels, about how we respond to fear or even a perceived threat. Can you expand a little on this idea?
JK: It was important to me to make this threat empty and vague. It was a simple warning, not wholly logical or detailed, from a stranger that sets this fear response in motion for this character. I really wanted to capture that to show how the fear cycle begins and how logic will often fall away when it peaks.
JH: I like that you so subtly let your audience understand that the narrator was a rape victim. Can you tell us why you chose this perspective?
JK: Readers need to relate to the character before they are able to feel empathy or much of anything for him or her. I wanted the character to come across as someone any reader can relate to on some level, the woman walking her dog early mornings before work; she might be a neighbor or a friend or just someone happening by; I wanted to show her in what would be a peaceful routine only for it to be shaken up by a stranger’s words. Trauma is a funny thing in that it seems to be below the surface, waiting to reappear until it is reconciled, and this jostling of our peaceful lives, this opening up of the past emotions, can come without warning. I wanted to capture that if only to show that as frightening as it may be, it is temporary and part of the healing.
JH: Please share links to your website, publications, or book links with our readers.
JK: My website is http://www.jenknox.com
I have a collection of short stories out entitled To Begin Again, and this is available at All Things That Matter Press, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and Indie Bookstores nationwide. I am also a contributor to the Short Story America collection, which is available on Amazon. My story, “Disengaged” can be purchased here: SSA Story Store.
JH: Thank you so much for sharing your work with r.kv.r.y and for taking the time to do the interview. Just one final question: what does recovery mean to you?
JK: We have to know we are not alone in our suffering. Everyone deals with trauma from some kind of physical or emotional loss; yet, it can often feel like we’re alone. By sharing our stories, we heal. It’s so crucial to remember that. Remembering, empathizing and enduring equal recovery.