Sturgeon Bay native Jill Stukenberg will present an author reading Oct. 8, 2-3:30 pm, at Write On, Door County.
Her debut novel, News of the Air, was selected as the 2021 winner of the Big Moose Prize from Black Lawrence Press. Part domestic realism, part eco-fiction, this novel centered in northern Wisconsin is a story of family and place that unsettles.
I recently talked with Stukenberg about writing and her novel.
Grace Johnson (GJ): Growing up, was your goal always to be a writer?
Jill Stukenberg (JS): I was always interested in writing. When I was in college, I thought maybe journalism – I’m still kind of attracted to journalism. But then at Marquette University, I learned to enjoy creative writing. I was a little afraid to try it at first because it’s so difficult to publish a book, and it’s kind of scary to put yourself out there. I was lucky enough to have family that encouraged me – if I followed what I love to do, I could trust that I would find something that I could do.
GJ: Although the story takes place in the Northwoods, I can’t help but imagine that Door County influenced your relationship to nature.
JS: Yeah, absolutely. I grew up in Sturgeon Bay, but also my parents now live south of Sturgeon Bay on Green Bay. That’s where I am most of the time in the summer, and even when I was a kid, we actually had a small summer cottage out there.
I think nature is such a big part of my book because I grew up with the idea that the natural world and the everyday world you see is not a static thing. It’s actually dynamic. Every day the landscape changes; the water changes by the hour.
I wanted the setting to be a part of the story, influencing the characters, because I think it’s part of our story as humans, and it influences us and connects with us.