Stephany Aulenback interviews Kelly Link

Interview by Stephany Aulenback; introduction written by Maud Newton.
 

Many of you will remember the divine Ms. Stephany Aulenback, MaudNewton.com’s first standing Friday blogger, who retired from her post last year so she could turn her attention to far more important things. Recently she’s been caring for a premature infant around the clock.

Before the baby arrived, Steph previewed and enjoyed several of the stories from Kelly Link’s second short story collection, Magic for Beginners, which has since appeared in bookstores near you. And because she liked Link’s first book, too, she arranged an interview.

Link (photo at right) is a co-founder at Small Beer Press, an independent publisher that put out her first short story collection, Stranger Things Happen. She says she couldn’t have foreseen the literary acclaim the book would garner when, “Laura Miller [of Salon and The New York Times] told everyone in New York to read [it].”

In the following interview, the appealing and voluble Link talks about her writing processes and straddling the line between so-called “literary” (a problematic term, in her view) and genre fiction. She also reveals that making her first book available under a Creative Commons license not only increased her download audience (of which I soon will be one) but caused an uptick in sales of the paperback.

Somewhere, Cory Doctorow is beaming.
 
 

SA: Let’s start with the writing questions. I’ll interrogate you about your practise until you unwittingly reveal the key to everything. There’s a bit in Janet Burroway’s textbook Writing Fiction, a Guide to Narrative Craft about how writers are always asked these kinds of questions about alchemy. She says:

Donald Hall will tell you that he spends a dozen hours a day at his desk, moving back and forth between as many projects. Philip Larkin said that he wrote a poem only every eighteen months or so and never tried to write one that was not a gift. Gail Godwin goes to her workroom every day ‘because what if the angel came and I wasn’t there?’ Diane Wakowski thinks that to work against your will is evidence of bourgeouis neurosis. Maria Irene Fornes begins her day with a half hour of loosening-up exercises, finding a comfortable center of gravity before she sits down to work. Mary Lee Settle advises that writers who teach must work in the morning, before the analytical habits of the classroom take over the brain; George Cuomo replies that he solves this problem by taking an afternoon nap. Dickens could not deal with people when he was working: ‘The mere consciousness of an engagement will worry a whole day.’ Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe wrote standing up.

And I was recently struck by Haruki Murakami’s description of his workday in The Paris Review. He said:

When I’m in writing mode for a novel, I get up at 4:00 am and work for five to six hours. In the afternoon, I run for 10km or swim for 1500m (or do both), then I read a bit and listen to some music. I go to bed at 9:00 pm. I keep to this routine every day without variation.

The repetition itself becomes the important thing; it’s a form of mesmerism.

I mesmerize myself to reach a deeper state of mind. But to hold to such repetition for so long — six months to a year — requires a good amount of mental and physical strength. In that sense, writing a long novel is like survival training. Physical strength is as necessary as artistic sensitivity.

So how about you? What’s your workday like? Do you write every day? Do you write longhand or on a computer? Where do you write? Do you keep a notebook with you and jot ideas down in the grocery store and so on?

And — this is only tangentially related to these questions and also nosy — what’s on your desk?
 

KL: I’m not the most focused person in the world. I’m easily distracted — I like being distracted. Recently I’ve started working in cafes, because when I’m home I read blogs and newspapers online, I do dishes, I work on covers for Small Beer books or play MozPong (a version of Pong in which you run back and forth and catch chickens as they hatch out of eggs that you’ve cracked with your ball…) or read slush or nap or decide to inventory the teas in our tea cabinet. I usually meet up with a writer named Holly Black two or three times a week, and we sit and work together and when we get really stuck we show each other our work and talk.

I work on an ancient orange iBook. When I’m in the middle of a story, I usually have either a notebook or bits of scrap paper for jotting down notes or dialogue or bits of description. I’ll also print out the story so that I can make changes to the manuscript. And every time I come back to the story, I start again at the beginning and rework the story down to the place where I have to start writing new stuff. Writing new stuff is very satisfying, but I put it off as long as I can. I’m more a rewriter than a writer, although I’ve tried to limit how much rewriting I allow myself to do. I could rewrite forever.

What’s on my desk: we recently had friends over, and we used my desk (which is actually a kitchen table, only it’s in our office and I don’t have a real desk) for playing Ticket To Ride, which is an excellent German board game in which everyone attempts to build railroads across Europe. So we took everything off my desk and put it on the floor, but there was a baby and so we had to take everything off the floor again in a hurry and stick it up out of the baby’s reach. So everything that was on my desk (the NYRB edition of the Gorey-illustrated War of The Worlds; a German chocolate mold from the turn of the century in the shape of a scary, scary naked and large-headed baby; lots of paperwork that I need to go through; several manuscript submissions that I need to read for Small Beer; a little plastic Godzilla that spits sparks; lots of yellow Post-It Notes; Paul Park’s wonderful new novel, A Princess of Roumania) is not on my desk anymore. I may never see some of it again — Elke –the baby — may have eaten some things.
 

SA: Maud usually asks a variation of this question. “Some writers shy away from reading fiction when they’re immersed in writing because they feel they’re too susceptible to other people’s prose styles. Others say they read books that counteract their own stylistic weaknesses,” she says. You’ve said in other interviews that you read all the time so I’m guessing you don’t worry about being unduly influenced by other writers while you’re working — or do you?
 

KL: I read more now — because of co-editing The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror — than I used to read, although most of this reading is work-related and narrowly focused. I read very quickly. I have a part-time job as a slush reader, and I’m a reader/editor for www.onlinewritingworkshop.com. I’m also an avid reader of various online newspapers and blogs. My biggest problem is figuring out how to balance reading (of various kinds) with writing.

As for being influenced, I do read other writers to figure out how to do certain things, or because they’re working in territory that I’m also interested in.

Writing is a conversation. (I’ll probably say this again at some point.) I need to be reading in order to be writing. This year I’ve typed out a couple of stories by other writers, partly for work-related reasons, but also so that I could get a closer look at how other writers put sentences together. How they structure a plot. I was typing out stories by writers who write very differently from me, and I loved doing this. I’d never looked at other people’s work so closely, or had so much admiration for how a sentence or a paragraph or a scene is constructed. It was a way to slow down my reading speed, and I also found that after I’d been typing out someone else’s story, it felt as if there was less of a barrier when I sat down to do my own work.

I was already in the pool — immersed. This year we published Storyteller, a writing book/memoir by Kate Wilhelm, and I had to read it over and over again during the process of putting the book together. So I was thinking about certain issues that she brings up — about writing — and what happened was that I was writing like a fiend the whole time I worked on putting her book together.
 

SA: Do you revisit certain writers for help when you hit a snag in your own work? And what are you reading now? And while we’re speaking of influences, how do other art forms influence you? Laura Miller mentioned both Buffy the Vampire Slayer and David Lynch in her Salon review of Stranger Things Happen. Do you embrace TV shows and movies as influences? How about music? Do you listen to it as you write? How about photography and art?
 

KL: There are certain writers I read when I’m stuck, for comfort as much as anything else. Diana Wynne Jones, Peter Dickinson, Joan Aiken, Grace Paley, Georgette Heyer, Dorothy Dunnett, M. R. James, Joyce Ballou Gregorian, Laurie Colwin, Jeffrey Steingarten. Lots of others. Eudora Welty, science fiction short story writers like James Tiptree, Junior, and Fritz Leiber. Theodore Sturgeon. C. M Kornbluth, lots of others. At the moment, I’m reading John Crowley’s Lord Byron’s Novel and Helen Oyeyemi’s The Icarus Girl. Just finished reading Cory Doctorow’s Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town, which I loved.

I used to go see pulpy science fiction or horror movies as a way to jumpstart stories. Sometimes good movies, too — I’ve been on a zombie movie kick for the last three years, and in the end I wrote a lot of zombie stories. Mostly I watch television when I’m really stuck and can’t manage to get work done. For a long time, I listened to music constantly as I wrote — Magnetic Fields and Gillian Welch and Hem and Rufus Wainwright and Aimee Mann and M. Ward — but at the moment, because I’m sitting at a table with another writer, I listen to whatever music is on the stereo. Fortunately there’s a fair amount of Magnetic Fields.

There are things that music does that I can’t do when I write fiction, and that really frustrates me. A song can convey, in this kind of code, or shorthand, so much emotion, so quickly.

There are visual artists who do things that I wish I could do in fiction. I love Lizbeth Zwerger and Peter Sis. I like narrative art, children’s book art, comic book art. I used to work in a children’s bookstore and I still splurge on picture books sometimes. I love the Joan Aiken books, which Edward Ardizzonne (and Pat Marriott and Edward Gorey) illustrated. A friend introduced me to the photography of Ralph Eugene Meatyard, and his photographs are just haunting. In the new collection there are a few stories with paintings in them, and I wrote one new story about a television show which is at least partly inspired by Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

There’s an idea that science fiction, as a genre, is a conversation, but the conversation is actually much larger than just that one room. One of the coolest things about running Small Beer Press with my partner Gavin and publishing my own books is that I have a lot more say about things like cover art. The writer and artist Shelley Jackson was the cover artist for both Stranger Things Happen and for Magic for Beginners. (For
Magic for Beginners, she also did pen and ink interior illustrations for each story.)

It’s very satisfying to put a book together from the stories up. After the stories were finished, it was extremely enjoyable to go back and think about how they could be illustrated — what image would say something about the story that the story didn’t already say.

We’re publishing a line of reprints and we’ve worked with the artist Kevin Huizenga. I highly recommend the Drawn and Quarterly Showcase anthology which features his work — I actually wrote an introduction for that anthology, but they decided at the last moment not to use it. They didn’t even pay me a kill fee, which means thatI’ve been leery since then of doing nonfiction work for other editors.
 

SA: Your stories have this weird, lyrical, dream-like quality that reads like water, as if they just pour out of you. I’m sure that’s deceptive. How long does it take you to write an average story? (I use the word “average” gingerly here, because, in its other sense, your stories are anything but.) How many drafts do you tend to go through? Do you rely on others early on for feedback and, if so, who?
 

KL: I used to sit on story ideas until I absolutely had to write something, usually to a deadline. Then I would write the first draft as quickly as possible, and then revise and fiddle with small details until I had to turn them over to a workshop or an editor. One of the stories in Magic for Beginners took 24 hours to write. That was “The Faery Handbag.” “Catskin” took about a week to write. All the changes that I made to the final versions of those two stories were pretty minor. Two of the other stories each took over a year — “Lull” and “Stone Animals”. I went through a pretty gloomy couple of months in the second half of 2004, when I wrote nothing at all, and then in 2005, between January and the end of May, I wrote seven and a half new stories. Most of these are for various young adult anthologies.

Some of them I worked on simultaneously. When I got stuck in one, I’d start another one. The pattern seemed to be that one story would be sticky and difficult and the next would practically just fall out. (Like water, yes.)

This was incredibly stressful and also enjoyable. I felt like an entirely different kind of writer for a few months, and a much happier one at that. I don’t remember most of February or March. I seem to recall that it was cold and I was drinking a lot of lattes. When I’m not writing, I’m not particularly happy. I’m not sure which of these things comes first.

Because I’m rewriting all the way through as I finish the first draft, I’m not sure how many drafts stories go through. It’s a continual process. I’ll show my cafe writing partner, Holly Black, what I’m working on, to see whether things are coherent enough, whether characters are behaving naturally (or unnaturally) enough. Whether endings are surprising, etc. I show my work to Gavin, and sometimes I’ll email it to other writer-friends.

When I have a mostly finished draft, I’ll send it to my workshop in Cambridge, which is in equal parts sociable and grumpy and nitpicking, and always extremely helpful.

I don’t want to write the same kinds of stories, the same kinds of characters over and over. I used to think that writers got better and better at what they did, but it turns out that this is actually a problem. Once you know how to do something well, you need to go on to something different. You need to find something that you can’t actually do yet. I’ve written two collections of short stories now, and in some ways, the stories in Magic for Beginners are more conventional than the stories in Stranger Things Happen. That’s partly because I didn’t know how to write particularly conventional fiction when I was working on the stories in the first collection.

Now I want to try something different, whether it’s writing stories in a new way, or writing a novel. I want to fuck up in interesting and new and useful ways.
 

SA: You recently edited two anthologies of fantasy writing, Trampoline and The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror, and you are widely acknowledged as a top-notch fantasy writer — stories from your collection have won the Nebula, the James Tiptree Jr., and the World Fantasy Awards. Yet your stories resist categorization. The reviews of Stranger than Fiction didn’t tend to label it as genre fiction. And your work has been published by magazines like Fence, Conjunctions, and McSweeney’s.

It seems to me that although fantasy is a much older form of story-telling, fantastic fiction doesn’t get taken quite as seriously as realistic fiction today, at least not in North America. This attitude is typified by the remarks of John Updike in an old interview on Salon, in which he said:

There are fads in critical fashion, but a writer at his peril strays too far
from realism. Especially in this country, where realism is kind of our thing. Writing that gives you the real texture of how things look and how people acted. At least there’s something there beyond your self and your own wits to cling to, a certain selflessness amid the terrible egoism of a writer.

Do you feel fantasy writing is unfairly marginalized? Do you care at all about being acknowledged as a “literary” writer?
 

KL: I’m happy to say that I’m a science fiction writer, although most of the science fiction writers I know would almost certainly disagree with me. I certainly had no intention of resisting categories when I started writing. I submitted my work to genre magazines. Being published in magazines like Fence and Conjunctions came as a surprise to me, and I’m not being disingenous when I say that. My first sales to literary magazines came about through weird coincidences or through invitations.

I don’t think of myself as a “literary” writer, because “literary” is a stickier, trickier kind of label. (Or at least as sticky as “genre” or “science fiction”, but I like the sound of “science fiction” better.) “Literary” doesn’t necessarily mean “mimetic” or “mainstream,” but it gets used that way as a kind of shorthand. Argggh. I guess what it boils down to is that I’m uneasy about the baggage that comes along with the label. It’s a particularly shapeless, baggy, abused word.

I certainly haven’t been marginalized at all. The opposite, in fact: I’ve had my cake and eaten it too. There are other books, though, that I wish I could convince more people to read — Geoff Ryman’s novel Air, for instance, or the new Paul Park novel. Jo Walton’s really wonderful and surreal Trollope/Austen pastiche with dragons, Tooth and Claw, M. T. Anderson’s coming-of-age Young Adult vampire novel, Thirsty. They’re genre novels, but I don’t see why that should keep anyone from reading them. Genre is a lot of things — community, reading protocols, a way to organize bookstores — but it’s also a set of tools that writers use. There’s a group of writers out of Boston who use the term “interstitial” to describe work and writers that use combinations of different conventions from different genres. Other people use the word “slipstream.”
 

SA: I recently read one of Robert Birnbaum’s interviews with Amy Bloom in which she said:

I feel that in a novel one forgives certain kinds of patches. One might say, the way I might say about White Teeth, for example, ‘Really great book, falls apart in the last sixty pages.’ You don’t have that option with a short story. There is no such thing as a great short story and twenty percent of it falls off. There is no room for that kind of error. I feel it’s an incredibly high standard that you have to hold the short story to because there is no room for that really common, perfectly understandable difficulty.

In an interview on the Well, you said of short stories that “everything has to have weight. Everything has to mean something, even if I don’t know exactly what it means — I usually don’t, but I can tell that it has the right kind of weight.”

What do you think of the idea that there is no room for error in a short story, the way there might be in a novel? And can we talk a little about how you combine the use of very strong, deliberately obvious metaphors (the way they’re used in fairy tales) with images that seem like they should stand for something, but it’s difficult to suss out exactly what that is?
 

KL: I’ve been trying to write different kinds of stories recently. I’m trying to be more digressive, to show a little bit more, to use more novelistic techniques. I’m trying to leave more room for error and slippages, if that makes sense, because I think that errors and digressions are part of what makes art. On the other hand, when I read novels, I’m very much a short story writer. I get impatient with sloppy or indulgent writing. Even if the plot is thrilling, I get bogged down. For example, I stopped reading The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova because she used the adverb “warily” over and over and over again, sometimes on the same page. (On the other hand, someone has just rereleased Stephen Bury’s — who was really Neal Stephenson writing with another man — Cobweb. That’s a fantastic thriller.)

I’m most forgiving of endings. I don’t believe in them. And it’s very rare that you get an ending that’s as perfect as, say, Dodie Smith’s I Capture the Castle.

As for sussing out stuff, I prefer reading fiction that resists easy interpretation, or which can be reread in such a way that it’s a different story each time. As a reader, I want to do some of the work. I don’t want to be spoonfed. One thing that you learn from writing workshops is that everyone reads a different story. People take away different meanings, different readings, different stories. I’ve been in workshops now for many years, and it’s possible that without realizing it, I’ve learned to write stories that support simultaneous readings, that reward close readings (because nobody reads more closely than a group of writers in a workshop.) I don’t really know if this is a good thing or a bad thing.

And fairy tales are opaque. There are certain parts of the structure are really strange, and yet we don’t usually look at them. There are conventions that we don’t question when we read them as children. What does it mean that the youngest child usually gets it right? Why do things happen in threes? I love Diana Wynne Jones’s novel Howl’s Moving Castle for the way that she subverts and works with those conventions.

The more that you understand something, the less resonance and weight that thing has for you. We tend to file away the stuff that we understand — it’s finished business, and we can go on to the next thing. I’m interested by the stuff that I haven’t figured out yet. It’s like being scared by a horror movie. You can’t be scared by something that you understand completely.
 

SA: I often think that the endings are the most difficult parts to get right, in both short stories and novels. Some writers say they have to know the ending before they start writing, others claim they can’t write a story if they already know its ending. In that same interview on the Well, you said that you usually have an ending in mind when you start writing — “usually something visual,” you said. How do you know when an image will make a good ending? Have you written stories where you did not already have an ending in mind to write toward? If so, what sparked those stories instead?
 

KL: I think endings are terribly difficult, and of all the parts of a story, they seem the least like life to me. I don’t always know the ending when I write, now, which is a relief. I like being surprised by the endings as I’m writing stories! When I do have an image in mind, what makes me want to write the story is wanting to figure out how the character got there, and why it matters that they ended up there.

I’m working on a story now that came out of a dialogue-writing exercise. At first I would write a story all in dialogue and even leave off the speech tags, which meant that from the very beginning I was very concerned with how to keep the characters straight in the mind of the reader. So I got to know both characters (there are only two) fairly well. As I rewrote it, I put some speech tags in, and even some description of the place where they were sitting and drinking, but it’s more of a character-based story than most of the work that I’ve published. It was a lot of fun. It’s a superhero story, so it probably also comes out of reading comics, and also out of reading recent short stories by Jonathan Lethem and Carol Emshwiller. It’s also based on an abandoned Wizard of Oz theme park that I used to visit as a kid.

Stories come from an intersection of things. For some stories, you don’t have so much as a starting place as a collision.
 

SA: You’ve talked before about how the best fiction is both comfortable and unsettling. In an interview for Salon you said:

I like the idea of taking things that are alien and making them seem really very cozy and familiar. That’s something that science fiction can do. It’s the way that people can look at pictures of flying saucers and say that looks like a saucer, from under a teacup, something small and domestic. On the other hand, what I like about more realistic fiction, writers like Lorrie Moore, for example, is the way it looks at familiar things and makes them seem so strange.

“I love both of those things,” you said in Locus. “It’s like having a telescope, looking through one way and then turning it around and looking the other way as well.”

And in the Well interview, you mentioned how you sometimes like to break the writing rule “Show, don’t tell.” It seems to me that telling, if it’s done really well — the way you do it — seems to draw the reader in and make her feel comfortable. What are some other techniques you use to make your work both comfortable and unsettling?
 

KL: When I write, I feel as if I’m writing a story for a friend. Someone that I know and like. I’m trying to write something that they’re going to really enjoy or get spooked by, or think is funny. Or sometimes I imagine that they’ll be really annoyed. I always hope that I’m being funny. (And you tend to feel comfortable with a writer after they’ve made you laugh. My motives are not pure.) I have a horror of boring people, or of telling the same story over and over again, although it’s hard not to return to the same preoccupations. All the writers I know are obsessed by particular themes or moments or types of characters.
 

SA: All writers complain of being asked the old “where do you get your ideas” question. I wonder if you’re asked that question more often than most. And I laughed when I read this passage from “Most of My Friends Are Two-Thirds Water,” whose narrator is a writer, about the reaction to her work after a reading:

When I give the reading, my father is there, and the owner of the coffeehouse, and so are about three other people. I read a story I wrote a few years ago about a boy who learns how to fly. It doesn’t make him happy.

Afterwards my father tells me that I sure have a strange imagination. This is what he always says. His friend tells me that I have a nice clear reading voice, that I enunciate very well. I tell her that I’ve been working on my enunciation. She says that she likes my hair this color.

Your work has very fantastic elements and yet it is rooted in both vivid details of ordinary life and in emotional states that feel very true. In much the same way a person’s dreams grow out of fragments of her real life, I imagine there are a lot of details from real life in your stories. I suspect that your work is much more autobiographical than people might think, although maybe this could be said of the work of all fantasy writers. What do you think?
 

KL: Yes, there are autobiographical elements in a lot of my stories, and also elements that I’ve borrowed from the lives of friends (I try to ask before I use them.) I don’t base my characters on my own life, but I do let them borrow my clothes (literally, once), the trip around the world that I won with a silly answer, and bits of conversations that I’ve had with other people, and so on. “Most of My Friends Are Two-Thirds Water” borrows a lot from real life, although the Jak in the story is not the Jak that I’ve been friends with for years and the narrator isn’t me. I wrote the story because Jak gave me the opening line and suggested that I write a story about him.

The details about accidentally following someone home to the same apartment are true. That’s an uncomfortable story, because the oddest, most offhand details are the truest ones, but the larger details of the relationship are, for the most part, outright invention. I had a friend in high school who lived in her parent’s garage. Jak’s hands are in a video. Etc. The Christmas tree decorations? Just something that I could see really clearly.

The writer Karen Joy Fowler says something along these lines: writers should lead quiet, boring lives, but be sure to have friends with interesting and difficult lives.
 

SA: Stranger Things Happen was published by Small Beer Press, which is run by you and your husband Gavin J. Grant. The collection got a lot of attention from the media, including a review in the New York Times. Since it was published by an independent publisher, were you surprised by the book’s reception? Did you do anything special to promote it? How did you approach the second collection?
 

KL: We were really surprised. A couple of people became advocates for the book. I think Laura Miller told everyone in New York to read the book. I had very realistic expectations about publishing myself. I thought we might break even and sell around 1,000 copies. I would have been okay with that. With the new book, we printed up T-shirts and decks of cards (for promotion and also just to sell), because we wanted to do something slightly different. We made a limited edition because it meant we got to experiment with nicer bindings, heavier paper, etc. We’ve also put Stranger Things Happen up on the website, for free, under a Creative Commons copyright, and in one week we gave away as many free eBooks as we’ve sold of the trade paperback edition in four years. (Sales of the trade edition went up too.)

Readers are allowed to do anything they like with the book, as long as it’s not for profit. I loved getting to do this.

And now, strangely enough, I’ve just sold reprint rights to Magic For Beginners to an editor at Harvest, Tina Pohlman. So I get to see how things work when someone else does all the work. I’m pretty excited. And I’m also still thrilled that we got to publish the hardcover first edition ourselves.

We just went back to print as well, and that’s more worrying. There will be returns, and it’s hard to judge how many books are going to sell and how many books are going to come back. But the good news was that we got to clean up the edition. Despite proofreaders and our best efforts, there were a lot of typos in the first edition. My mother read through the book and emailed us everything she caught. She was born to proofread.
 

SA: I read that you were planning to write a novel for young adults. Can you tell us about it? How is writing for kids different from writing for adults? And do you have any other current projects that you’d like to mention?
 

KL: I haven’t started a novel, not yet. At some point I’d like to expand the story “The Faery Handbag” — it seems to me that the handbag is full of interesting narrative possibilities, thrilling situations, characters who behave badly, etc. I left the ending of that story as wide open as possible. What I don’t like about writing a novel that follows from that ending is that what I write may not be as interesting as what I didn’t write.

In YA novels, you don’t want to talk down to your readers. You don’t want to make things too simple, or make your plots too tidy or think that the point is to illustrate a valuable lesson. Other than that, you can do pretty much anything in YA, as long as your viewpoint characters are sympathetic and are at a point in their lives when things really change. And you have to assume that your readers are at least as smart as you, and probably even more enthusiastic than you are about weird stuff. Because I’m sitting here with Holly Black, who writes “The Spiderwick Chronicles” as well as wonderful YA novels like Tithe, I’ve just asked her this question. She says that the most important thing about writing for kids is “that you have to remember what it was like to be that age. You have to remember what you were scared of, and what you were interested in, what you noticed. If you’re writing for nine-year-olds, you have to remember what it was like to be nine. If you’re writing for teenagers, you have to remember what it was like to be a teenager.” She’s also just pointed out that when you write for adults, you have to keep in mind what it’s like to be an adult, which is much more problematic for some of us.

As for projects, the other book that Small Beer published this year was Maureen McHugh’s collection, Mothers and Other Monsters. We’ve been working on publicity for Maureen’s book. We’re putting together the next issue of Lady Churchills’ Rosebud Wristlet and reading magazines for Year’s Best Fantasy. We’re going to reissue Howard Waldrop’s wonderful sf collection HOWARD WHO? as well as a debut collection by Alan De Niro. I’m going to the MacDowell Colony in the fall, and either I’ll write some more stories, or else I’ll try to start a novel. And I’m also hoping that they have a ping pong table at the MacDowell Colony, because all the rooms in our house are too small for a ping pong table. . .
 

SA: Thanks, Kelly.


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