[NOTE: This is part of a series of Q&As with the Shirley Jackson Award nominees.]
Kit Reed is the author of the Alex Award-winning Thinner Than Thou and many other novels, including The Night Children, her first young adult work. Reed has been nominated for the World Fantasy Award and has been a James W. Tiptree Award finalist. Kit Reed lives in Middletown, CT, where she is Resident Writer at Wesleyan University.
Kit kindly answered a few questions about her Shirley Jackson Award nominated collection The Story Until Now.
Kristin Centorcelli: Congrats on the Shirley Jackson Award nomination! Will you tell us a bit about your collection?
Kit Reed has two new books this year: her spontaneous human combustion novel, Son of Destruction from Severn House (US and UK), and her “best of” collection, The Story Until Now, from Wesleyan University Press. The collection includes some classics and some favorites, as well as six new, never-before-collected stories. Earlier books include What Wolves Know (PS Publishing), a Shirley Jackson Award nominee in 2011, and Enclave (Tor, 2009). She is Resident Writer at Wesleyan University.
Keith Brooke: Your work could be labeled SF, fantasy, horror, suspense, weird, literary and/or any number of other things, but taken as a whole (and even in many cases individually) your stories defy categorisation, and you describe your work as “transgenred”.
Kit Reed: I do, because there are so many things my stories are, or aren’t. Some them are clearly SF, if you read that as Speculative Fiction, but some of them are straight-up realism, or “literary,” and it bothers me that “literary” has become both a “genre” and a dirty word. And, me as transgenred? I think I made up the word because I moved around so much as a kid. It opened up so many possibilities that people don’t get when they’re rooted in one place. The word fits because I’m like the boll weevil, I go everywhere and I don’t belong anywhere.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Dan Carteret is determined to solve the mystery of his father’s identity. But he discovers a lot more than that when his pursuit takes him to his mother’s secret-riddled hometown.
PROS: Makes the familiar strange and the strange inseparable from the familiar; weaves multiple perspectives and narratives together powerfully with wonderful variations of texture and access to characters; full of insights great and small about the human condition.
CONS: Slow start; occasional fumbles in the narrative.
BOTTOM LINE: Pushes genre AND literary conventions aside and digs deeply into the wonderful and petty compulsions and practices that make us human.
“The Fort Jude way is a little miracle of denial.”
I am a great admirer of Kit Reed’s short fiction, and I was eager to dig into her latest novel Son of Destruction. As I began to read, however, I became a little discouraged; the opening was slower and less pointed than I had come to expect from her, and its framing of what was to come felt a little banal. What I realized as I got deeper into the novel was that this was a subtler start than I usually find in her short fiction because it sets the reader up for the textual jabs and haymakers that would soon rain down, sometimes unpredictably, on the imagination. If that seems an odd characterization, it is because Son of Destruction is more complicated, knowing, and sometimes weird because of that mixture. What Reed produces is in the novel is simultaneously a tangle of human lives and a desperate orchestration of those lives as individuals struggle with loneliness, disappointment, and the ongoing costs of keeping secrets both terrible and trivial to maintain a veneer of neighborliness and belonging.
Here is the cover art and synopsis of Kit Reed’s upcoming (March 15, 2013) collection The Story Until Now: A Great Big Book of Stories, which features an introduction by Gary K. Wolfe.
New from infinity plus, a new batch of infinity plus single ebooks: