Charles Tan Interviews Kit Reed

Kit Reed’s collection The Story Until Now is a 2013 Shirley Jackson Awards nominee.

Charles Tan: What was your criteria in selecting the stories for The Story Until Now?

Kit Reed: I’m easily bored, and don’t want readers to get bored. I’m kind of pathological about it. When I assemble a collection, I do it by feel; it’s like rearranging furniture. You put everything down on the floor and move things around until it feels right; it’s hard to explain. With this one, I was determined to put as much– no, to put more weight on the new stuff than the oldies but goodies because for Pete’s sake, I grew up. I love that people still talk about “The Wait,”  the last story in the book and the first I got paid for, but I’m more excited to know what they think  of”The Legend of Troop 13 ,” which came out in Asimov’s in January of ’13. Like, I’d like to think I’ve grown a little bit since then. So there was that, and there was me discovering that I have a series of obsessions that prevail: war is one, mother/daughter clashes is another, and… and… So they’re loosely grouped, UN-chronological but weirdly organized, in my weird OCD kind of way..

Charles Tan: You’ve been writing stories for more than five decades, and I don’t think you limit yourself to any particular genre. For you, how has your writing evolved/changed over the years (if at all?)?

Kit Reed: Again, I have a pathological fear of getting bored. Genre can be a trap, if you let it. Or it can liberate you. For me, it’s a, “what else can you do?” kind of thing. The stories have gotten denser, technically more complicated, ergo harder to write. I used to be able to write a Kit Reed story in a week. Now it takes weeks, sometimes months, to get a story right.

Charles Tan: What is it about the short story format that appeals to you and keeps you returning to it, whether as a writer or as a reader?

Kit Reed: Partly it’s a way to come down off a novel, and it’s definitely a way to shift gears. Sometimes the stories turn out to be sketches for a novel, but I never know that at the time. Plus, if you fall on your ass you haven’t wasted years,  the way you can when you get hung up on a novel, it’s only a matter of weeks.

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