AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
Short stories by the author Kelly Link are inspired by what she calls night time logic. She says in fiction that strives for realism, day-to-day images are ordered. The direction of the clocks, the sun sets in the West, everything has a place. Everything makes sense. But night time logic...
KELLY LINK: Night time logic, it's much more like dream logic except that, you know, when you wake up from a dream, you think, well, that didn't make sense. And I think night time logic in stories you think, I don't understand why that made sense, but I feel there was a kind of an emotional truth to it.
CORNISH: Kelly Link's characters slip in and out of night time logic in her latest story collection, "Get In Trouble." They start out innocently enough - teenage girls hanging out with their boyfriends - until you realize one of those boyfriends is a life-sized werewolf android. In another, a young woman in a small beach-side town takes care of rich peoples' summer houses. Of course there ends up being something supernatural about one of those houses, and, in the hands of Kelly Link, also something painfully familiar - about the feeling of being stuck in your home town.
LINK: I live in Northampton, which is a very pleasant place to live. And one of the things that you really notice when you live there is the sort of way in which students come and then they go. The town empties out and then you get people coming in to see the leaves along the trails in fall. You get a lot of tourists. And so if you live in a place with a changing population like that, you start to feel a little bit strange about the fact that you are in that place permanently.
CORNISH: Is it the case or the mark of this kind of work that these characters know their world and we the readers are the ones who are going to be surprised, right? Or is it a case where also the characters are discovering these things, as well?
LINK: Well, I think both kinds of stories are a lot of fun. It's fun when a character is sort of a stand-in for the reader and strange things happen and they are unsettled by them. But it's a lot of fun to write a story in which everybody in the story already feels at ease with the strangeness. I think there's a kind of useful dissonance reading a world in which the people in that world are used to that place, and that's because that's true of real life. You often come into situations where everybody already knows what's going on and you have to sort of piece it together.
CORNISH: And listening to your descriptions of your own work, it makes me wonder what kind of stories you grew up reading.
LINK: I grew up reading pretty much anything I could get my hands on. My dad read me all of Tolkien when I was in kindergarten. My mom read me all of C.S. Lewis. And then once I learned how to read, I was a little bit slow. I would just go to the library and sort of work my way through the shelves.
CORNISH: You were slow after taking in Tolkien and C.S. Lewis? Maybe you were tired.
LINK: (Laughter). Well, my parents have explained to me that apparently I was also a little bit lazy. You know, I felt that if I learned how to read that in fact they would stop reading to me. So (laughter) I delayed a little bit.
CORNISH: This is good kid logic. Why would you, if you had people reading to you?
LINK: I had stories on demand, absolutely.
CORNISH: What did they do?
LINK: My dad at that point was a minister and my mom was a homemaker. But I think what they finally did to get me to read was, they sat me down on the couch and explained that if I would learn how to read, then I could read any time I wanted to read, and that was persuasive.
CORNISH: I want to ask you about one other story which is called "I Can See Right Through You," which starts out with a description that leads you to believe that it might be a story about an actual vampire of and his monster girlfriend. And you slowly come to realize that they're actors in a kind of "Twilight"-style movie, I guess, who are essentially trapped by their fame. And it touches on a genre that people don't talk about so much in your work but I read a lot of, which was romance.
LINK: I do love love stories. I spent a lot of the time when I was going through an MFA in creative writing program sneaking out to book stores and reading paperback romance novels.
CORNISH: You just said sneaking.
LINK: That's an MFA no-no, right? Like, you cannot admit to the others what you've been doing.
CORNISH: Yes. It's OK - we've all done it.
LINK: I would really hope now that if anybody out there is in a writing program, that they would boldly read their romance novels. I mean, that's one of the things about figuring out what kind of story you want to write, if you want to write, is figuring out the kinds of things that you are drawn to even if you feel you shouldn't be drawn to them.
CORNISH: Well, Kelly Link, thank you so much for talking with us, and we look forward to reading the rest of the book.
LINK: Thank you so much. It was really my pleasure.
CORNISH: Kelly Link, her new collection of short stories is called "Get In Trouble" and it's out now.
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