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Interview: Marie Vibbert on “Knit Three, Save Four”

Marie VibbertWhat was the inspiration for the story?

“Knit Three, Save Four” was written on something of a dare.  I was doing the Clarion Write-a-thon and writing a story every day, and so I was very open to prompts.  As I chatted about my writing with a friend, and was busily knitting, she said, “You need to do a story that incorporates knitting.  I know!  You could knit a spaceship!”

So that was my prompt.  “Knit a spaceship.”  I quickly came up with the idea of knitting a net around a spaceship to fix a structural problem, and a stowaway as the protagonist.  I bugged my friends for ideas on the structural problem and Geoff Landis and Darrin Bright were particularly helpful in suggesting other ways to fix the problem.  Heh heh!  So handy for that “fail three times then succeed” plot shape!


Was the story personal in any way?

Obviously, I knit.  I knit a lot.  I use knitting as a way to not feel guilty or like I’m wasting my life when I have to sit still, say on a train or in a lecture.  I was knitting when, on a Greyhound from New York City home to Cleveland, I talked to a young woman whose story inspired my main character’s.  She worked summers on Lake Michigan, selling snow cones on the beach, then did the same thing in Florida in the winters, and used her money to keep traveling.  It sounded like a hard but rewarding life.  I’ve always wanted to travel more but never had the ready cash… but of course I decided to spend most of my ready cash on a house, so here was a path untaken.


What was the most difficult part of the story to write?  What was the most fun?

The most difficult was actually the knitting.  I started out using a mesh pattern my sister had used to make excellent shopping bags, but it was too complicated to convey.  I had to rely heavily on my first readers to point out when my explanations were more confusing than helpful.

After my first draft, I decided to go Full Hard SF and make it near-future, no convenient artificial gravity.  That was surprisingly fun to do.  Constraints make stories more fun, and we forget that sometimes.

The funnest part was coming up with the characters.  Years ago, there was a game called Dice Land that had a character named Fat Robot Steve and I was in love with that name and had been daydreaming about writing a story about Fat Robot Steve for decades.  I decided the family was Philippine, so I renamed him Fat Robot Chen to have a more Asian feel.  “He looks like my buddy, if he were a robot, and fat,” was the explanation I dreamed up for Fat Robot Steve’s name when I first heard it.


What are you working on now?

I’ll be presenting a paper at the 90 Years of Analog conference in New York in December. It’s a statistical analysis of the prevalence of female names in tables of contents over the years.  I’m not an academic and so very nervous about it.

I’m putting together a poetry chapbook, tentatively titled “Rustbelt Robots.”  I feel all the imposter syndrome, all the time!

Otherwise, I’m shopping around short stories and revising two novels in the hopes that someone, someday might want to see them, and writing another novel because I am Always Writing A Novel.  Always.  Sorry.


“Knit Three, Save Four” appears in the November/December 2019 issue of F&SF.

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One Response to “Interview: Marie Vibbert on “Knit Three, Save Four””

  1. Knit Three, Save Four – Marie Vibbert, author on November 7th, 2019

    […] I was interviewed by F&SF’s blog about my story in their latest issue, which is fortunate, because I forgot to write a blog post this week. I’ma steal it here, but here is the link to their site. […]

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