Interview with Jenn Ashton, Author of “People Like Frank and Other Stories From the Edge of Normal”

23 June 2021
By Kim Werker
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Several weeks ago we received an email from author Jenn Ashton, telling us about her book of short stories that had come out in the fall of 2020, “People Like Frank and Other Stories From the Edge of Normal.” In it is a story about knitting, and she wanted to know if we’d be interested in publishing an excerpt if her publisher agreed. We were, obviously, intrigued. (Read the excerpt, and find a discount provided by the publisher of the book, here.)

When Jenn sent me a PDF of the story, called “Nest,” I opened it right away, read the first line, and closed my laptop. I did not expect that first line. I chuckled. Then I opened it up again. And when I got to the end of the story, I slammed the lid closed once more, and burst into tears and laughter at the same time.

It was an emotional week for me (no kidding), but also this story just got me right in the kishkes, as my grandmother would have said. It got me right in the guts.

It’s all about knitting and it’s nothing about knitting. It’s about how so many people are touched by things that are handmade, even beyond the maker and the recipient of the making. It’s about a woman named Francine. It’s about deciding to follow through on a mission you know nothing about in the beginning, about which you learn along the way. It’s about community and about asking for help and about receiving it.

I am not ashamed to say that I begged Jenn to speak with me by Zoom instead of doing an email interview, as we’d discussed. I just desperately wanted to have a real conversation with her about all of these things, and I was thrilled when she agreed.

We spent half an hour talking about Francine, and knitting and writing, about craft and art and rest and so much more. The mildly edited recording of our conversation is below, along with a transcript. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

About Kim Werker

Kim Werker (she/her) is a co-founder and publisher at Digits & Threads and Nine Ten Publications. She has worked in the crafts industry in one way or another since 2004 as an editor, writer, instructor and speaker. She's authored six books about crochet and one about making ugly things on purpose as a creativity exercise. Kim lives in Vancouver, BC, with her husband and son, and their mutt who's named after a tree.

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