This month we continue our Big Read celebration of Pretty Monsters by Kelly Link with programming related to this eclectic collection of short stories. Prior to kicking off our celebration, the Pulitzer-nominated author chatted with us via Zoom, from her home in Northampton, Massachusetts, for a bonus episode of the library’s podcast Shelf Centered. What follows are excerpts from that interview.
Being on a list among authors like Zora Neale Hurston and Ray Bradbury.
My husband and I run a small press – we publish about five books a year and we publish books we love a great deal. I think when you work in publishing, or when you write, what you realize is it’s all one big conversation. I try not to worry any more about whether or not what I’m writing is good. What I think about is: Am I satisfied by it? Do I think readers will enjoy this?
Trying to write during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This is a challenge. I feel enormously privileged because it is the kind of work that I can do at home, but no, I’ve not written a great deal. I’ve been thinking about some stories that I want to get back to, I’ve been thinking about a novel I have to finish, but my husband and I took over a small bookstore in September. We have employees who are working from home, but for the most part for the first four and a half months [of the pandemic] it was just us in the store and that was a great deal of work. Kind of a good distraction, it did mean that there was something to focus on that wasn’t writing, which in a way I was grateful for because I don’t know that I would’ve gotten anything done anyway.
Her advice to novice writers.
Write about the stuff that you care about. Write about the things you’re so invested in, that you feel so much excitement about putting together in a story that it’s going to carry you through the act of having to write the story.
“Write about the stuff that you care about.”
Growing up in South Florida.
I grew up in Dade County, on Old Cutler Road outside of Miami. I loved it. It’s a great place to be a kid. Lots and lots of animals.
Writing about Florida.
There are a couple of stories in Get in Trouble that are set in Florida. It took me a while to write about Florida. I think it’s much easier for me to write about a place after I’m no longer living there. I have been living in Massachusetts for 12 years, so now it’s much easier for me to write about other places I lived: North Carolina, Miami, and about New York.
For the full bonus episode of Shelf Centered, visit ocls.info/podcast. The conversation includes her family raising – and reading to – chickens, revealing a surprising fan in Orlando, how current times have her reflecting on her story The Surfer and more.