The University of Iowa University of Iowa

Mission Creek: Kelly Link @ Hancher 4/4/17

I definitely did not go into this reading expecting to hear about a “Demon Lover”/actor with issues involving a sex tape, who’s in love with a former co-star from a movie they were in together, but here I was on a Tuesday night listening to author Kelly Link read from her short story, I Can See Right Through You.

Kelly Link is the author of a few works including Get in Trouble, which got her nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, Magic for Beginners, which won a Locus Award for a short story collection, Pretty Monsters, and other books and short stories. The genre that she chooses to write in most often is usually science fiction, horror, or fantasy- something she calls “the fantastic.”

Going into this reading I wasn’t sure what to expect. As a journalism major and someone who writes regularly, I enjoy hearing people read from and talk about their work, even if I’ve never heard of them. After I got over the awe of Hancher, the new performing arts center I hadn’t been in yet, I took my seat and waited anxiously to hear what she was going to read.

When one of the first sentences out of her mouth included the phrase “sex tape” and “demon lover” I wondered what the hell I got myself into. But as she read on from the story I Can See Right Through You I found myself laughing and genuinely curious about what was coming next. So you can imagine my disappointment when she stopped just as it was getting to the part about a missing nudist colony.

After the reading, Link sat down with a PhD from the English Department to have a short conversation, followed by the crowd asking her questions. People asked everything from how to deal with writers block to what inspired her to write fantasy and horror stories. She also talked about her influences, her favorite reads, and Small Beer, a press that her and her husband run that publishes works from other authors.

One of my favorite parts from the discussion is when Link talked about the difficulty of writing about things people already have ideas about. She enjoys writing about ghosts and zombies and the Fantastic but people already have their own ideas of how those things act, what they sound like and what they look like. “It’s difficult to still make it pleasurable to the reader when they already have these ideas in their head.”

This is something that I’ve never thought about, but after hearing realized it’s most likely a problem for a lot of authors. However, after hearing a short piece of her writing its clear that she overcomes this problem fairly easily. The story also jumped from time period to time period and I had no trouble following along and keeping up with what was being read aloud.

Kelly Link is a great writer, and even though I had never heard of her before Mission creek, it’s clear after one night of listening to her that there is a reason she is an award winning author. I look forward to reading more of her work in the future, and seeing what happened to this Demon Lover from I Can See Right Through You. 

Check out her website here or buy one of her books on Amazon.

NY Times Get In Trouble