#AWP16 Featured Presenter Q&A with Kelly Link

AWP | February 2016

Event Title: Kelly Link, Emily St. John Mandel, and Ruth Ozeki: A Reading and Conversation, Sponsored by Penguin Random House Speakers Bureau
Description: This event brings together three brilliant contemporary female writers—Kelly Link, Emily St. John Mandel, and Ruth Ozeki—to read and discuss their craft and experiences as genre-bending authors. Kelly Link is the recipient of an NEA grant and is the author of Get in Trouble. Emily St. John Mandel is the author of Station Eleven, a finalist for the 2014 National Book Award. Ruth Ozeki is the author of A Tale for the Time Being, which was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.
Participants: Carolyn Kellogg, Kelly Link, Emily St. John Mandel, and Ruth Ozeki
Date & Time: Friday, April 1, 2016, 4:30pm – 5:45pm          

Q: What are some of the conference events (besides your own) and/or bookfair exhibitors you are most excited to see?
A: I probably won’t even look at programming until I get to L.A. At which point, I will discover that there’s far too much that I want to go see. I’ll also spend too much money at the bookfair, going around and discovering small presses that I’ve never had the good fortune to stumble on before. Last year I bought a handful of poetry collections from Canadian publisher Brick Books.

Q: What book or books that you’ve read over the last year would you most highly recommend?
A: Oh, boy. So many! Four books all recently published. Two novels: Keith Morris’s Travelers Rest and Samantha Hunt’s Mr. Splitfoot. Also two recent collections: Peter Straub’s Interior Darkness and Shohba Rao’s An Unrestored Woman. From last year: Mat Johnson’s Loving Day.

Q: Given how much time writers spend alone to practice their craft, what do you think are the advantages of creating the large community that exists at the AWP conference? 
A: I may not be the right person to answer this question, as my usual habit is writing with other people. I meet up with a couple of writers a couple of times a week and we all work together. Imagine if AWP had a dedicated writing space. We could all get some work done.

Q: What question that you’ve never been asked before would you like to ask yourself? And how would you answer that question?
A: Q: “Would you like to go live with your family for a year in Australia (or Japan or Scotland or Iceland) while you do some writing?” A: “Hell yes.”

Q: Outside of the conference, what about Los Angeles are you looking forward to? Are there any Los Angeles activities you would recommend to conference attendees? 
A: I’m going to go have breakfast downtown at the Nickel Diner. I may do that a few times. On the way to the Nickel Diner, you’re likely to stop in at The Last Bookstore. Why not? Dim sum at the Empress Pavilion is pretty great too. A little farther out of the way, I really like Chevalier’s Books. I also get a kick out of seeing the buses go by with the destination signs for Disneyland even though I have no plans to get on.


Kelly LinkKelly Link is the author of the collections Get in Trouble, Stranger Things Happen, Magic for Beginners, and Pretty Monsters. Link’s short stories have been published in The Best American Short Stories and Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards, and she has received a grant from the NEA. She is the co-founder of Small Beer Press, which has been recognized as a leading small publisher of literary science fiction and fantasy, and a co-editor of the zine Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet. Born in Miami, Florida, she currently lives with her husband and daughter in Northampton, Massachusetts. (Photo credit: Sharona Jacobs Photography LLC)

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