Retro Interview with Kit Reed


I conducted this interview with the fabulous Kit Reed in late 2012, and found her wonderfully chatty with a somewhat cycnical wit. Both wonderful qualities for an author!

I was saddened when she passed away on 24 September, 2017, as she had sent me a copy of her last novel, Mormama, and I did not get a chance to discuss it with her. When The Story Until Now was released, Kit sent me her personal copy, as she said she would recieve more. I have read it many times since then. Her words were complex and beautiful.

So, on to the interview.

What genre would you like to write a book in (that you haven t yet)?

I don’t think “genre,” If you look at my page http://www.kitreed.net you’ll see that I coined a word for what I am: TRANSGENRED.

My work shows up in everything from SF venues to literary magazines, depending not so much a given thing is as on who that I show it to turns out to like it. Last week I got my check from The Yale Review for a story the day before I got my contributor’s copies of Asimov’s SF, with another story. Two Yale Review stories and several from Asimov’s will be in my new “best of” collection, THE STORY UNTIL NOW: A Great Big Book of Stories, coming from the Wesleyan Press on March 15, the same day as U.S. publication for my spontaneous human  combustion novel, SON OF DESTRUCTION, which Severn House is billing as “a Southern Gothic Thriller”.

So when I sit down, I really don’t think in terms of genre. I think about writing a book I personally want to read. I try hard to figure out what I want to do, then I do it and  after it’s done I stand back and try to figure out what it is. Then I send it off and hope to God that somebody will want it.

Where do your ideas come from?

Everything I’ve ever seen or read, everything that’s ever happened to me or anybody else that I know about and that other place there’s no real name for. My novel ENCLAVE came out of a dream: I was in a great big stone boarding school working to get rid of a virus that invaded the server. At the same time, on a floor below me, kids were getting sick, and I knew unless I could clean out the server and get it running, those kids were going to die…

Do you have a standard formula for plots?

never

or do stories come to you as a whole construct?

never. they come word by word, paragraph by paragraph, page by page, and half the fun and suffering is figuring out what it is and where it’s going.

When you start a new story, do you have a title for it?

The only title I ever started with is one given to me by my daughter the writer Kate Maruyama, who dreamed  “Little Sisters of the Apocalypse.” It turned out to be about a biker gang of nuns– a religious order riding across the island where all the men had stashed their wives while they went off to fight another war.

Does that trigger the story?

Only that one time that I know of.

What themes are being overused?

No idea. I don’t think in terms of themes, either.

Are movies of books ruining the book?

Books aren’t movies and movies aren’t books. They tell stories in completely different ways; movies are about quick cuts, pacing, SHOWING things they can’t tell. Generally the worst movies are the ones with a screenplay written by the author,.

Do you see ebooks threatening traditional publishing?

Too soon to tell; the Wesleyan Press e-version of THE STORY UNTIL NOW goes up the same day the hardcover collection goes on sale; ENCLAVE, a Tor book, is available at your major online venders; Tor tells me THINNER THAN THOU‘s going up next month, to be followed soon by all my other Tor titles. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? I don’t know, I just hope it means more readers.

Do you prefer to read established authors or debut authors? How do you choose which ones to read?

I read whatever I want, time permitting; first novelists are always interesting because they’re firsts and some firsts are awful; established novelists have good days and bad days: e.g. “Middlesex” vs. “The Marriage Plot,” both by Jeffrey Eugenides. Evelyn Waugh was consistently brilliant until he got religion and wrote “Helena.”

What is it about fantasy that appeals to you?

I like it because it allows the kind of fantasy so closely linked to actual daily life that when something goes a little bit (or a lot) wrong– or gets strange, it makes me very happy.

Do you set yourself a word limit for each book?

Books are as long as they have to be to do what they do, I think, so I don’t count words. I spend a lot of time cutting superfluous words out of things.

Do you have a target each day?

Nope, just a start and stop time, and even that’s flexible. i.e., late to work? Work longer.  I don’t work nights and I don’t work weekends; those are walking-around problem-solving times.

Do you have characters running around your head?

Pretty much.

Do they dictate events and their histories to you?

Nope,  I just hear what they’re saying.

After so many books, how do you keep them unique?

It’s not how, it’s why: because I am easily bored.

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