Wonder Woman interviews the fabulous Ms. Kelly Link

Your trusty Bond Girl Superfriend here with a (sort of) surprise (I stopped getting married long enough to finish it) interview with my Superfriend and one of the most generous writers I know, Kelly Link.

Kelly Link writes the most excellent short fiction. No, really. And I’m not just saying that — other people think so too. To totally steal from the bio linked above, here’s Kelly, in case you don’t know who she is:

Kelly Link’s collection, Stranger Things Happen, was a Firecracker nominee, a Village Voice Favorite Book and a Salon Book of the Year — Salon called the collection “…an alchemical mixture of Borges, Raymond Chandler, and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” Stories from the collection have won the Nebula, the James Tiptree Jr., and the World Fantasy Awards.

Kelly has taught or visited at a number of schools and workshops including Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY, Brookdale Community College, Brookdale, NJ, Lenoir-Rhyne College, Hickory, NC, the Imagination Workshop at Cleveland State University, New England Institute of Art & Communications, Brookline, MA, Clarion East at Michigan State University, and Clarion West in Seattle, WA. She is an editor for the Online Writing Workshop and has been a reader and judge for various literary awards. With Gavin J. Grant and Ellen Datlow she edits The Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror (St. Martin’s Press). She is also the editor of the anthology, Trampoline.

Kelly lives in Northampton, MA, and is currently working on a new collection of stories. She received her BA from Columbia University and her MFA from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Kelly and her husband, Gavin J. Grant, publish a twice-yearly zine, Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet — as well as books — as Small Beer Press.

So, let’s get to the interview wherein the release date and other information about her BRAND NEW collection of stories emerges, despite my inability to ask interesting questions (except about zombies). Oh, and you should buy and read or listen to everything mentioned, but I really, really was too lazy to link to everything.

***********

Gwenda: So, let’s start with a question you’ve gotten a thousand times and are bored sick of but no doubt can answer easily Ė what made you decide to start Small Beer Press and what was the process of getting out the first two books like?

Kelly: Weíd been putting out a zine, Lady Churchillís Rosebud Wristlet, twice a year for two or three years, and so we had a rough idea of how much it cost to put out a zine or a chapbook or a book, and how many you had to sell to break even. We were interested in making something that looked like a book. The goal was always to break even.

I owe a large debt to other artists who have self-published. I was a faithful reader (and later a bewildered reader) of Dave Simís Cerebus. There are musicians like Sonic Youth and Gillian Welch and John Wesley Harding who have started their own labels, or put out their own music — Ani DiFranco and Aimee Mann and Natalie Merchant. I like the DIY, zine-y approach. Oh yeah, and Iím a control freak.

We realized that if we could publish my collection, then we could publish other people as well. I was a huge fan of Ray Vukcevichís short stories, and after we ran into him at a convention in Texas, we asked if he had enough stories for a collection. Publishing my own book was messy. It was an act of indefensible hubris. I didnít know how to edit myself into book form. Youíre not supposed to publish yourself. Working on Rayís collection was a kind of reward for deciding to start a press to publish my own collection. Ray was a delight to work with. I got to read his stories over and over again.

I loved designing the books, and I loved being able to ask Shelley Jackson to provide cover art for my book. All of the minutiae of book design and copyediting and proofreading turned out to be enormously satisying work. Much better than simply writing the stories. I grumbled about it at the time, but even writing the jacket copy for Stranger Things Happen was relatively enjoyable.

The unexpected thing about book publishing was that we were able, with a great deal of help, to figure out how to do it, how to make things that looked like the sort of book which I would want to pick up and read. Publishing books turned out to be a lot easier than I expected it would be. Meanwhile, lots of unexpected things were going on outside of starting Small Beer Press. In 2001, George W. Bush somehow ended up being president after all. Gavin and I got married. We got married eleven days after September 11th. In March of 2001, Jenna Felice, an editor at Tor Books, died suddenly. She was a close friend, a neighbor in Brooklyn, and part of a community of writers and editors and small press publishers. It was a relief to have a project to work on, after her death, but it was also difficult, because she had been so much a part of our everyday life, and in helping us figure out all of the things we needed to figure out, in order to start a press and publish books.

Gwenda: Well, the exciting news is that youíve written enough new stories for a collection and will be putting one out through Small Beer in 2005. Tell me about this new book. What will be in it? Does it have a name yet? Whatchya working on?
Continue reading →

Wonder Woman interviews the fabulous Ms. Kelly Link

Your trusty BondGirl Superfriend here with a (sort of) surprise (I stopped getting married long enough to finish it) interview with my Superfriend and one of the most generous writers I know, Kelly Link.

Kelly Link writes the most excellent short fiction. No, really. And I’m not just saying that — other people think so too. To totally steal from the bio linked above, here’s Kelly, in case you don’t know who she is:

Kelly Link’s collection, Stranger Things Happen, was a Firecracker nominee, a Village Voice Favorite Book and a Salon Book of the Year — Salon called the collection “…an alchemical mixture of Borges, Raymond Chandler, and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” Stories from the collection have won the Nebula, the James Tiptree Jr., and the World Fantasy Awards.

Kelly has taught or visited at a number of schools and workshops including Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY, Brookdale Community College, Brookdale, NJ, Lenoir-Rhyne College, Hickory, NC, the Imagination Workshop at Cleveland State University, New England Institute of Art & Communications, Brookline, MA, Clarion East at Michigan State University, and Clarion West in Seattle, WA. She is an editor for the Online Writing Workshop and has been a reader and judge for various literary awards. With Gavin J. Grant and Ellen Datlow she edits The Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror (St. Martin’s Press). She is also the editor of the anthology, Trampoline.

Kelly lives in Northampton, MA, and is currently working on a new collection of stories. She received her BA from Columbia University and her MFA from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Kelly and her husband, Gavin J. Grant, publish a twice-yearly zine, Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet — as well as books — as Small Beer Press.

So, let’s get to the interview wherein the release date and other information about her BRAND NEW collection of stories emerges, despite my inability to ask interesting questions (except about zombies). Oh, and you should buy and read or listen to everything mentioned, but I really, really was too lazy to link to everything.

***********

Gwenda: So, let’s start with a question you’ve gotten a thousand times and are bored sick of but no doubt can answer easily Ė what made you decide to start Small Beer Press and what was the process of getting out the first two books like?

Kelly: Weíd been putting out a zine, Lady Churchillís Rosebud Wristlet, twice a year for two or three years, and so we had a rough idea of how much it cost to put out a zine or a chapbook or a book, and how many you had to sell to break even. We were interested in making something that looked like a book. The goal was always to break even.

I owe a large debt to other artists who have self-published. I was a faithful reader (and later a bewildered reader) of Dave Simís Cerebus. There are musicians like Sonic Youth and Gillian Welch and John Wesley Harding who have started their own labels, or put out their own music — Ani DiFranco and Aimee Mann and Natalie Merchant. I like the DIY, zine-y approach. Oh yeah, and Iím a control freak.

We realized that if we could publish my collection, then we could publish other people as well. I was a huge fan of Ray Vukcevichís short stories, and after we ran into him at a convention in Texas, we asked if he had enough stories for a collection. Publishing my own book was messy. It was an act of indefensible hubris. I didnít know how to edit myself into book form. Youíre not supposed to publish yourself. Working on Rayís collection was a kind of reward for deciding to start a press to publish my own collection. Ray was a delight to work with. I got to read his stories over and over again.

I loved designing the books, and I loved being able to ask Shelley Jackson to provide cover art for my book. All of the minutiae of book design and copyediting and proofreading turned out to be enormously satisying work. Much better than simply writing the stories. I grumbled about it at the time, but even writing the jacket copy for Stranger Things Happen was relatively enjoyable.

The unexpected thing about book publishing was that we were able, with a
great deal of help, to figure out how to do it, how to make things that looked like the sort of book which I would want to pick up and read. Publishing books turned out to be a lot easier than I expected it would be. Meanwhile, lots of unexpected things were going on outside of starting Small Beer Press. In 2001, George W. Bush somehow ended up being president after all. Gavin and I got married. We got married eleven days after September 11th. In March of 2001, Jenna Felice, an editor at Tor Books, died suddenly. She was a close friend, a neighbor in Brooklyn, and part of a community of writers and editors and small press publishers. It was a relief to have a project to work on, after her death, but it was also difficult, because she had been so much a part of our everyday life, and in helping us figure out all of the things we needed to figure out, in order to start a press and publish books.

Gwenda: Well, the exciting news is that youíve written enough new stories for a collection and will be putting one out through Small Beer in 2005. Tell me about this new book. What will be in it? Does it have a name yet? Whatchya working on?
Continue reading →

Wonder Woman interviews the fabulous Ms. Kelly Link

Your trusty BondGirl Superfriend here with a (sort of) surprise (I stopped getting married long enough to finish it) interview with my Superfriend and one of the most generous writers I know, Kelly Link.

Kelly Link writes the most excellent short fiction. No, really. And I’m not just saying that — other people think so too. To totally steal from the bio linked above, here’s Kelly, in case you don’t know who she is:

Kelly Link’s collection, Stranger Things Happen, was a Firecracker nominee, a Village Voice Favorite Book and a Salon Book of the Year — Salon called the collection “…an alchemical mixture of Borges, Raymond Chandler, and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” Stories from the collection have won the Nebula, the James Tiptree Jr., and the World Fantasy Awards.

Kelly has taught or visited at a number of schools and workshops including Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY, Brookdale Community College, Brookdale, NJ, Lenoir-Rhyne College, Hickory, NC, the Imagination Workshop at Cleveland State University, New England Institute of Art & Communications, Brookline, MA, Clarion East at Michigan State University, and Clarion West in Seattle, WA. She is an editor for the Online Writing Workshop and has been a reader and judge for various literary awards. With Gavin J. Grant and Ellen Datlow she edits The Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror (St. Martin’s Press). She is also the editor of the anthology, Trampoline.

Kelly lives in Northampton, MA, and is currently working on a new collection of stories. She received her BA from Columbia University and her MFA from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Kelly and her husband, Gavin J. Grant, publish a twice-yearly zine, Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet — as well as books — as Small Beer Press.

So, let’s get to the interview wherein the release date and other information about her BRAND NEW collection of stories emerges, despite my inability to ask interesting questions (except about zombies). Oh, and you should buy and read or listen to everything mentioned, but I really, really was too lazy to link to everything.

***********

Gwenda: So, let’s start with a question you’ve gotten a thousand times and are bored sick of but no doubt can answer easily Ė what made you decide to start Small Beer Press and what was the process of getting out the first two books like?

Kelly: Weíd been putting out a zine, Lady Churchillís Rosebud Wristlet, twice a year for two or three years, and so we had a rough idea of how much it cost to put out a zine or a chapbook or a book, and how many you had to sell to break even. We were interested in making something that looked like a book. The goal was always to break even.

I owe a large debt to other artists who have self-published. I was a faithful reader (and later a bewildered reader) of Dave Simís Cerebus. There are musicians like Sonic Youth and Gillian Welch and John Wesley Harding who have started their own labels, or put out their own music — Ani DiFranco and Aimee Mann and Natalie Merchant. I like the DIY, zine-y approach. Oh yeah, and Iím a control freak.

We realized that if we could publish my collection, then we could publish other people as well. I was a huge fan of Ray Vukcevichís short stories, and after we ran into him at a convention in Texas, we asked if he had enough stories for a collection. Publishing my own book was messy. It was an act of indefensible hubris. I didnít know how to edit myself into book form. Youíre not supposed to publish yourself. Working on Rayís collection was a kind of reward for deciding to start a press to publish my own collection. Ray was a delight to work with. I got to read his stories over and over again.

I loved designing the books, and I loved being able to ask Shelley Jackson to provide cover art for my book. All of the minutiae of book design and copyediting and proofreading turned out to be enormously satisying work. Much better than simply writing the stories. I grumbled about it at the time, but even writing the jacket copy for Stranger Things Happen was relatively enjoyable.

The unexpected thing about book publishing was that we were able, with a
great deal of help, to figure out how to do it, how to make things that looked like the sort of book which I would want to pick up and read. Publishing books turned out to be a lot easier than I expected it would be. Meanwhile, lots of unexpected things were going on outside of starting Small Beer Press. In 2001, George W. Bush somehow ended up being president after all. Gavin and I got married. We got married eleven days after September 11th. In March of 2001, Jenna Felice, an editor at Tor Books, died suddenly. She was a close friend, a neighbor in Brooklyn, and part of a community of writers and editors and small press publishers. It was a relief to have a project to work on, after her death, but it was also difficult, because she had been so much a part of our everyday life, and in helping us figure out all of the things we needed to figure out, in order to start a press and publish books.

Gwenda: Well, the exciting news is that youíve written enough new stories for a collection and will be putting one out through Small Beer in 2005. Tell me about this new book. What will be in it? Does it have a name yet? Whatchya working on?
Continue reading →

superfriend interview with the fabulous Ms. Link

Your trusty BondGirl Superfriend here with a (sort of) surprise (I stopped getting married long enough to finish it) interview with my Superfriend and one of the most generous writers I know, Kelly Link.

Kelly Link writes the most excellent short fiction. No, really. And I’m not just saying that — other people think so too. To totally steal from the bio linked above, here’s Kelly, in case you don’t know who she is:

Kelly Link’s collection, Stranger Things Happen, was a Firecracker nominee, a Village Voice Favorite Book and a Salon Book of the Year — Salon called the collection “…an alchemical mixture of Borges, Raymond Chandler, and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” Stories from the collection have won the Nebula, the James Tiptree Jr., and the World Fantasy Awards.

Kelly has taught or visited at a number of schools and workshops including Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY, Brookdale Community College, Brookdale, NJ, Lenoir-Rhyne College, Hickory, NC, the Imagination Workshop at Cleveland State University, New England Institute of Art & Communications, Brookline, MA, Clarion East at Michigan State University, and Clarion West in Seattle, WA. She is an editor for the Online Writing Workshop and has been a reader and judge for various literary awards. With Gavin J. Grant and Ellen Datlow she edits The Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror (St. Martin’s Press). She is also the editor of the anthology, Trampoline.

Kelly lives in Northampton, MA, and is currently working on a new collection of stories. She received her BA from Columbia University and her MFA from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Kelly and her husband, Gavin J. Grant, publish a twice-yearly zine, Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet — as well as books — as Small Beer Press.

So, let’s get to the interview wherein the release date and other information about her BRAND NEW collection of stories emerges, despite my inability to ask interesting questions (except about zombies). Oh, and you should buy and read or listen to everything mentioned, but I really, really was too lazy to link to everything.

***********

Gwenda: So, let’s start with a question you’ve gotten a thousand times and are bored sick of but no doubt can answer easily Ė what made you decide to start Small Beer Press and what was the process of getting out the first two books like?

Kelly: Weíd been putting out a zine, Lady Churchillís Rosebud Wristlet, twice a year for two or three years, and so we had a rough idea of how much it cost to put out a zine or a chapbook or a book, and how many you had to sell to break even. We were interested in making something that looked like a book. The goal was always to break even.

I owe a large debt to other artists who have self-published. I was a faithful reader (and later a bewildered reader) of Dave Simís Cerebus. There are musicians like Sonic Youth and Gillian Welch and John Wesley Harding who have started their own labels, or put out their own music — Ani DiFranco and Aimee Mann and Natalie Merchant. I like the DIY, zine-y approach. Oh yeah, and Iím a control freak.

We realized that if we could publish my collection, then we could publish other people as well. I was a huge fan of Ray Vukcevichís short stories, and after we ran into him at a convention in Texas, we asked if he had enough stories for a collection. Publishing my own book was messy. It was an act of indefensible hubris. I didnít know how to edit myself into book form. Youíre not supposed to publish yourself. Working on Rayís collection was a kind of reward for deciding to start a press to publish my own collection. Ray was a delight to work with. I got to read his stories over and over again.

I loved designing the books, and I loved being able to ask Shelley Jackson to provide cover art for my book. All of the minutiae of book design and copyediting and proofreading turned out to be enormously satisying work. Much better than simply writing the stories. I grumbled about it at the time, but even writing the jacket copy for Stranger Things Happen was relatively enjoyable.

The unexpected thing about book publishing was that we were able, with a
great deal of help, to figure out how to do it, how to make things that looked like the sort of book which I would want to pick up and read. Publishing books turned out to be a lot easier than I expected it would be. Meanwhile, lots of unexpected things were going on outside of starting Small Beer Press. In 2001, George W. Bush somehow ended up being president after all. Gavin and I got married. We got married eleven days after September 11th. In March of 2001, Jenna Felice, an editor at Tor Books, died suddenly. She was a close friend, a neighbor in Brooklyn, and part of a community of writers and editors and small press publishers. It was a relief to have a project to work on, after her death, but it was also difficult, because she had been so much a part of our everyday life, and in helping us figure out all of the things we needed to figure out, in order to start a press and publish books.

Gwenda: Well, the exciting news is that youíve written enough new stories for a collection and will be putting one out through Small Beer in 2005. Tell me about this new book. What will be in it? Does it have a name yet? Whatchya working on?
Continue reading →

monday morning theatrics starring Wilton Barnhardt

This is Superfriend Bond Girl poking my head up on Monday morning with a surprise for Ed.

Last year, Mr. Bond Girl received Wilton Barnhardt’s novel Emma Who Saved My Life for Christmas and I immediately snatched it and read it in big gulps. I read it again. Then we went out and bought Wilton’s other books — the Biblical thriller Gospel (DFW wishes he footnoted like this!) and the brutally hilarious satire on D.C. and L.A. Show World. Wilton is one of those writers who offers something different but brilliant in each of his books and I order you to seek out his work. He’s currently teaching at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, and you can read more about his background here (this was the most detailed bio I could find, but is obvs. not current).

Anyway, Emma Who Saved My Life (which is so beloved around here that it usually just gets referred to as “Emma”) is at the top of at least three of my lists — best novels about New York, best novels period and, most relevant today, best novels about theater. It’s funny and wise. In honor of Ed’s new play Wrestling an Alligator, I wrote Wilton and asked if he’d reflect on his most memorable theater experiences. Here’s what he said, and I’m not italicizing in order to make it easier to read. Everything below is not me:

The best in theater is not very exicting in retelling: I was there, you weren’t, nyeh nyeh nyeh. Angela Lansbury in a Broadway revival of Mame when I was in elementary school. Christopher Plummer and Rosemary Harris in Ibsen’s The Master Builder. Angels in America. The 1980’s all day version of Nicholas Nickleby. John Wood as Salieri in Amadeus. Jennifer Holliday’s big blowout number in Dreamgirls. Eh, but excellence is not nearly as interesting secondhand as flop-city.

The worst I ever saw was a version of The Tempest in which every aspect of the production was askew or flat-out awful. They decided to stage it in a planetarium. What made it so good was that a lot of the cast was talented so there was the added amazement of seeing good people humiliated by the poverty of the production. Oh, it was good for about two minutes there at the beginning. All right, the sky dims to violet, then the stars come out–so far so good–and someone on a mike begins the prologue… but the mike wasn’t booked up right and squeaked and fedback all through the show. Otherwise the acoustics were predictably abominable. The actors, on a spindly jerry-rigged platform which wobbled and tantalized the audience with whether the actors were going to fall forward into the seats, screamed to be heard but enunciation was useless. The Prospero was drunk, drunk, drunk, in the manner of Foster Brooks, hiccupping and flubbing lines right and left. Miranda had a Georgette Engel little-girl-up-way-high voice that did achieve audiblity, alas. She kept gamely feeding Prospero his lines:

“We are… [hiccup] we are…”
“Such things, Prospero?”
“Such things… [belch] as uh…”
“Dreams, beautiful dreams–”
“Dreams are made on!”

It wasn’t just drunkenness; his Prospero was stentorian old-school faux-Brit-hammery plus drunkenness. I’m sure the character of Tucker K. Broome in my first novel (set in the theater), Emma Who Saved My Life, owed more than a little to that actor. The director felt, apparently, that the male actors had to be further humiliated by wearing speedos and thongs and next to nothing, shipwrecked as they were. Ordinarily, I am pro-skimpy-attire/nudity in theater but maybe not with these guys. The whole Caliban buffoonery was played for high phsyical slapstick and the guys (sweating like pigs–the air had mysterious stopped circulating in the planetarium) all were choreographed to fall into each other’s ass-cracks and crotches, and rather than any laughter, there was horror and profound unease as if a gay porn film would break out at any moment (and the guys were femme enough to convince you it might). Well, you say, what about those fabulous special effects only a planetarium can achieve? And I say, WHAT special effects? A planetarium can do stars and project slides on the ceiling, maybe make a laser dance in one place, and that’s about it. A teetering Prospero summons forth a banquet… and a slide, a picture cut out from Good Housekeeping and blurrily photographed (this is all pre-digital), miraculously appears on the ceiling (in a defined slide-rectangle) to hoots of derision from the audience, particulary as the cast goes on to praise such magic, such wonder! It was horrendous from start to finish and NO ONE left at intermission; everyone stayed to see how they would mess up the second half–it was that good! There was open laughter and catcalling by the end. Whatever sympathy we all had for the actors had evaporated–hours of our lives had been sacrificed to this production and there was a hint of lynch-mob in the air…

I once met the legendary critic (and guy who picked the Tony nominations for years) Jay Carr of the Detroit News and Boston Globe, a witty, wonderful man who knew/knows more about theater than most acting companies put together. He told me the alltime best fiasco ever witnessed. It was a local company (Buffalo, I think) attempting a Wagner opera–always wrong, always ill advised–in which at the end, a hundred trained pigeons had been purchased, put in cages above the stage, and were to be released as a spectacle as the final act concluded (the birds were supposed to fly to pens up in the unused highest balcony). All production long (which was mediocre and wearisome for the audience–the perfect set up), the birds shat liberally on the singers. Jay said people noticed but weren’t sure what was going on; occasionally, a feather would float down. A blue feather. Yes, they PAINTED the pigeons so they would seem like bluebirds of happiness. Painting animals (again, not a promising idea) had its drawbacks: by act three, blue paint was melting in the heat and hot lights along the catwalks and blue paintdrops were appearing on the cast. At this point, the audience was laughing, having more or less figured out that birds were up above the stage dripping and shitting and molting. Nothing the cast did from this point on mattered–everything was a hoot. Overweight local opera would-be stars were splattered in mid-aria, and in wiping away the blue paint, it smeared and didn’t come off. Then the finale.

A demoralized cast sang the final notes, the birds were released… and all one hundred painted pigeons, long dead from being cooked to death in the lights, fell to the stage, plop plop plop, while the chorus dodged the assault. Jay Carr reported that he had never seen the “rolling in the aisles” cliche until this incident; people were doubled-over with laughter, they could not breathe, they staggered to the aisles in hysterics and helplessness. Nothing, in American theater, I’m fairly sure, has been seen on that scale before or since. Indeed, I wonder if it actually happened; perhaps it’s a theatrical urban legend. Maybe your readers can clear this up.