Both Kelly Link and Steve Almond read at my store last night. I’ve got a bit of a head cold, so I didn’t take notes or anything, but will try to recap the evening. If you ever get a chance to hear them, do it. You won’t regret it. Kelly started by asking if we wanted to hear the happy zombie story or the not-so-happy zombie story from her new collection Magic for Beginners. The crowd of 50 or so opted for the happy one. It was about zombie contingency plans and had elements of mirth and solemnity. Steve then from his recent collection The Evil B.B. Chow. The story he chose was a beautiful and sexy reminiscence of a summer fling. He also promised candy bars to those who asked questions afterward.
The question/answer portion of the night was just as informative. Topics included the genesis of story ideas to how much work went into them to autobiographical elements of their stories. I asked them both about their publishers. Kelly Link and her partner Gavin Grant started their own publishing house Small Beer Press. She likes maintaining control of her work throughout the publishing process. And Steve decries the publishing industry. He has no agent and even said that he sent his work to many presses, but Algonquin was the only one who wanted him. They got his work, which he stresses is the most important thing when trying to get your work published.
I waited in line to get them both to sign copies of their books. Kelly and Gavin had attended the Litblog Co-op party in NYC a few weeks back, but I didn’t get a chance to meet them. They were both extremely friendly and Small Beer Press has some great looking books coming up. Steve was also very nice and charismatic. I know not everyone loves him, but he is passionate about writing and literature. And it’s hard to disagree with that. So that was the evening in short. Stay tuned for next month, when I will attend a reading by Kevin Smokler, who is promoting Bookmark Now: Writing in Unreaderly Times.