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 – what made you decide to start Small Beer Press and what was the process of getting out the first two books like?
Kelly: We’d been putting out a zine, Lady Churchill’s 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 Sim’s 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 I’m 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 Vukcevich’s 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 didn’t know how to edit myself into book form. You’re not supposed to publish yourself. Working on Ray’s 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 you’ve 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?
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