Interview with Jennifer Lynn Krohn

“Time can be your best critic.”


Author Photo


Coffin Bell: Introduce yourself / short bio / photo.

Jennifer Lynn Krohn: I was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. My family would commonly visit graveyards, and sometimes we would turn the lights off and chase each other around the house. My friends and I would tell each other ghost stories, and I was absolutely terrified of La Llorona. I received my MFA from the University of New Mexico, and I teach English at Central New Mexico Community College. I still share ghost stories with my friends.

CB: What got you started writing?

JLK: My seventh grade English teacher, who on occasion turned off the lights and had us listen to the entirety of Pink Floyd’s The Wall, had us create our own poetry zines. She was the first English teacher who didn’t require poems to rhyme and encouraged me to follow my morbid muse. Once I knew that there were no outside constraints, I was hooked.

CB: What is the most rewarding aspect of writing?

JLK: It is rare, but there are a few occasions where I have gone back and reread work that I’ve written, and I can no longer believe it is mine. There are no words I want to add or delete, no line breaks that I want to adjust. The piece is complete and strangely independent of me. It is a poem or story that I can just enjoy reading without fiddling with it, and, even though I had spent likely months (or years) fiddling with it, at that moment it seems to have always been that complete piece.

CB: Do you have a designated space for writing? Tell us about it.

JLK: I have a home office where I both write and grade papers. The most important part is that it has a door that I can close. The desk is against the window that looks down on my apartment complex’s parking lot. The desk is cluttered with piles of paper, books, pens, a flashlight with no batteries, a folding knife, and a toy octopus. Next to my desk on the floor are more piles of books, binders full of my writing, a space heater (which I unplug whenever I exit that fire trap) and a Smith Corona Galaxy Deluxe typewriter, which I use whenever I get writer’s block.

CB: Are you a planner or a pantser? Tell us a bit about your writing practices.

JLK: While I’ve attempted to plan some of my writing projects, my plans are usually left unfinished. The truth is if I can’t finish the first draft in a day I likely will not finish at all.

CB: What advice to new and emerging writers could you give?

JLK: Time can be your best critic. For years, I would submit work that, after a few months, I would revise. Then I was in the strange place of wishing for a rejection, which I almost always received because editors tended to agree I had not submitted the final version of that piece. Also, always follow the submission guidelines.

CB: Who are your influences?

JLK: My biggest influence will always be folk tales. Whether it was the beautifully illustrated books I found in my library as child, or the urban legend I would hear from a friend.

Writers who have fundamentally influenced my work are Ai, Angela Carter, Shirley Jackson, Sylvia Plath, Russell Edson, Grace Paley, Adrienne Rich, Mikhail Bulgakov, Neil Gaiman, and Italo Calvino.

In the past few years, I’ve been really excited about the work of Karen Russell, Helen Oyeyemi, Kelly Link, Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky, Carmen Gimenez Smith, Ludmilla Petrushevskaya, Emily Carroll, Yoko Ogawa, Joy Williams, Amelia Grey, Han Kang, and Carmen Maria Machado.

CB: Physical books or e-readers?

JLK: Physical books. I enjoy seeing the slow progress of my bookmark through the pages and screens give me headaches.

CB: If you could give a PSA to journal editors, what would it be?

JLK: Always be clear on whether you accept simultaneous submissions and how to withdraw a submission. Also, I’m tired of reading calls for submission where the editor asks for work that breaks boundaries and rules, when what they mean is edgy realism.

CB: Taphophobia is the fear of being buried alive. Tell us about your fears.

JLK: I fear so many things. Open blinds at night—when the inside light reflects on the glass and obscures your view of what’s outside. You never know what eyes are watching you. Ghosts, even though I don’t believe in them; I would hate to find myself in a room with something that doesn’t exist. And goldfish. I remember a friend’s multiple goldfish committing suicide by jumping out of their bowl.

CB: What draws you to dark fiction?

JLK: I’ve always been afraid of the world, both of imaginary and real threats. Dark fiction gives me a way to face the fear. To give it a name and to trap it on the page.

CB: How does the darkness in your piece enhance the work?

JLK: On occasions when someone has read my work, watched a movie I recommended, or listened to the songs I sang at karaoke, they’d tell me “but you’re such a nice girl.” The darkness reveals the limitations of “nice.” It reveals how what we expect to perceive and what is actually there are often a world apart. Niceness often can be a mask or a trap.

CB: Tell us about your book / publication / web site / promotion.

JLK: I’ve recently won the Golden Key 2017 Flash Fiction contest for the short story “Juvenescence.” My short story “The Arms” was published by The Molotov Cocktail. I can be followed on twitter @jennkrohn.


Read Jennifer Lynn Krohn’s “Clinical Lycanthropy,” “Waiting under the Bridge,” “The Mouth,” “A Dictionary of Halves,” and “The Monsters” in issue 1.1 of Coffin Bell Journal!