I love the opportunity to interview legends of the writing world, and today I bring you another one with Kit Reed. An author of author of both speculative fiction and literary fiction, Kit has also written psychological thrillers under the pseudonym Kit Craig.
Her first published work was in 1958, and Kit has been publishing ever since. So far her tally is 22 novels and over 100 short stories. The New York Times Book Review says this about her short fiction: “Reed has a prose style that’s pure dry ice, displayed in dystopian stories that specialize in bitterness and dislocation.”
Please welcome Kit.
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?
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?
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.
Kit can be found: