September 2012 – Author – J.E. Knowles




J. E. Knowles was born in Johnson City, Tennessee, in 1972, grew up in Carter County, and first published in Phoenix at the age of seventeen. She then went to the University of Chicago, where she earned a B.A. and was a member of the Grey City Journal Editorial Collective. She also holds a Diploma in Jewish Studies from Oxford.

Her stories and poems have appeared in Chicago Poet, the Chicago Literary Review, Writer’s Block, Canadian Writer’s Journal, Read These LipsQWERTY, and Toe to Toe: Standing Tall and Proud. She is a graduate of the Humber School for Writers in Toronto, and her columns appeared for six years in the lesbian and gay biweekly Xtra!  

She moved to England on the same day that Mary Travers died. Her first novel, Arusha, was a Lambda Literary Award Finalist, and her second, The Trees in the Field, is published this month. She has also edited Faith in Writing, a collection of essays. 

LnL Questionnaire

Your favourite virtue?

I love that this is your first question. Without a doubt: fairness. It has become fashionable to put down “It’s not fair!” as a childish complaint, but the sense of fairness is our earliest moral compass as human beings, and we should never abandon it. Knowing what is just and what is unjust is what makes us different from the other animals, which just do what they do.

Your favourite qualities in a man?

There are two ways to answer this question. In terms of morals, I’m afraid I hold the feminist belief, not currently popular, that the same should be expected of men as of women. That is, there are no special virtues inherent in women, and no excuses for bad behaviour by men.

But if this is an aesthetic rather than a moral question, the kind of man I like looking at tends towards the brooding intellectual type. I guess I make a better dyke.

Your favourite qualities in a woman?

beauty of every kind

 Your main characteristic?

I would like to say wit, but it’s a thin line crossing over to sarcasm.

What draws you most to your friends?


Given the opportunity what would you most like to change?

I would like people, including myself, to be a bit more thoughtful.

Who would you most like to take out for dinner?

This is the easiest question to answer. Of anyone living: the singer Buffy Sainte-Marie. Born in Canada, raised in the USA, a member of the Cree Nation; Buffy is the ultimate Renaissance woman. She has written songs ranging from “Until It’s Time For You To Go,” which was recorded by Elvis Presley, to “Up Where We Belong,” which won an Oscar. She earned a doctorate, is an artist and activist, and at the height of her popularity would not go on TV shows if they asked her not to speak about Native issues. And, she was featured on Sesame Street when I was little. What’s not to admire?

 Your idea of happiness?

being surrounded by those I love

 What is your favourite way of spending the day?

Outdoors. It could be lying on a beach, or hiking in the woods, but preferably in fairly decent weather.

Whose life other than yours would you most like to have lived?


Where would you most like to live?

I’m happy where I am now—with unlimited travel would be nice!

 Who is your favourite author?

There are so many wonderful writers of many different eras. I read every book E. Lynn Harris ever wrote, and I’m so sorry he’s gone.

Who is your favourite poet?

Again, this is so hard to say. Ogden Nash, because he makes me laugh.

Your favourite heroes in fiction?

Asher Lev, in Chaim Potok’s My Name is Asher Lev; Tom Wingo in Pat Conroy’s The Prince of Tides

Your favourite heroines in fiction?

Raney, by Clyde Egerton; Melany in Lorrie Sprecher’s Sister Safety Pin

 Your favourite painters?

Pablo Picasso and Jay Russell—the late, great jazz painter of Ontario

Who is your favourite composer?

Classical? In terms of a body of work, George Frideric Handel.

What is your favourite Film?

To Kill a Mockingbird, which is fifty years old this year. It’s a fine novel, too.

Your favourite food?

My favourite food in the world is a really fresh, sweet peach. But it has to be good, not the mealy or hard ones that are sold in supermarkets. I got some recently at the local market and they were close to what I remember picking off the peach tree as a kid.

Your favourite drink?

The glass of white wine I have at my side right this minute.

Who do you most admire?

my parents

 What is your present state of mind?

Fairly peaceful. It’s Friday evening!

For what fault have you most toleration?

My own, of course!

Your favourite motto?

“Don’t postpone joy.”

Thanks so much for asking me!


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