Monday, August 08, 2005


Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Award winner Kelly Link has written some of the most original and interesting cross-genre stories of the past few years, earning a rabid mainstream and genre readership. The only parallel I can think of, in terms of effect, is Harlan Ellison, another writer who has experimented with genre (albeit in a vastly different way) and become extremely popular based solely on the short form.

Link's new collection, Magic for Beginners, is just out, with rave reviews in Entertainment Weekly, among others. It includes some of her very best work, including, for example, the magnificent and wonderfully odd "Stone Animals," which Matt Cheney did an eloquent job of discussing earlier this year. You can also sample the lovely title story of the collection in F&SF magazine this month.

I've got the limited edition of Magic for Beginners. It's a beautifully designed book, with a lovely pattern on the boards and quality materials used throughout. Shelley Jackson's illustrations form lovely grace notes for the stories. (I don't see an indication on the Small Beer site that the limited is sold out; if it isn't, you'd be a fool not to buy a copy, from both a collector's point of view and that of a fan of short fiction. Especially with the news that Harcourt has bought the trade paperback rights.)

Before she set out for WorldCon, Link was kind enough to submit to the dreaded five questions (plus one).



Why should readers pick up your book as opposed to, say, just about anybody else's book?
That's a difficult question. I'd recommend that they pick up Geoff Ryman's novel AIR instead, for example. It's a paperback and much cheaper, and it's also a novel. (A really wonderful novel.) Dodie Smith's I CAPTURE THE CASTLE is swell, and so is COBWEB by Stephen Bury (who is really Neal Stephenson and J. Frederick George) if you're looking for a thriller. Poppy Brite's novel LIQUOR. Ann Patchet's novel BEL CANTO. Small Beer Press has published several books which aren't mine and which I love much more. Everyone knows that novels are better than short story collections. And if you absolutely have to buy a short story collection, then I recommend Margo Lanagan's BLACK JUICE.

Does your book have any socially redeeming qualities? If so, what are they?
My book did not vote for George Bush. (It wasn't actually a book yet, during the election, and even if it had been, books aren't allowed to vote because they don't have fingers or driver's licenses. Never mind.) Also, it's printed on recycled paper: all of the Small Beer books are printed on recycled paper. The binding is Smythe sewn. (I like saying that.) Our printers, Thomson-Shore, are employee-owned.

Does your book have any medicinal or mental health value to readers?
The paper we use is vitamin-enriched as well as recycled. When shredded and dissolved in cold water, it can be used as a facial masque to ease headaches or invisibility, or shredded and mixed with hot water as a substitute for oatmeal.

In order to get full mental health value out of the book, we suggest that you don't actually read it. The limited edition comes with a set of playing cards. The cards are not of any particular medicinal or mental health value, but you can use them to play Solitaire while you're in hospitals of any kind. They're very compact and portable.

Assume your book has been filed under "Ages 8 to 12" in the children's section, perhaps by mistake, perhaps not. How horrified do you imagine a child would be after reading your book, and why? How many years of therapy would the child take to recover from the experience?
So far, we've heard that book buyers have found the book filed under "Occult". Preferably, it should be filed under "Occult for Ages 8 to 12". If your child has accidentally read MAGIC FOR BEGINNERS, we suggest you trade them in for a new, slightly older child. One who only reads Tennyson, bridge manuals, and your private emails. (Speaking of which, here's another book I'd recommend someone pick up -- Jane Hamilton's novel DISOBEDIENCE.)

What is your response to those people who buy Magic for Beginners expecting it to be a how-to manual and are horribly disappointed?
Well, it is a sort of how-to manual. There are tips on how to prepare for zombie apocalypses, and how to make an attractive disguise out of a catskin, as well as recommendations on dealing with rabbits.

If no one buys your book and you are unable to continue publishing your fiction due to the intense vilification that occurs in the media, what line of work will you go into?
I'd look for apprentice work in the kitchen of a sushi restaurant. Or go back to school and train as a geologist. Or become a competitive bridge player. Apply to be on Survivor.


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At 11:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I loved this interview & just wanted to brag that Kelly Link is my boyfriend's SISTER! I actually read her first book before meeting him and have not gotten over my excitement--good writers are to me what I guess a movie star is to some. Anyway, she's just the greatest--so so wonderful not only as a writer but as, you know, a person.

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