Link delights at Hancher


Short story writer Kelly Link reads a few of her works in Hancher for Mission Creek on Tuesday, April 4, 2017. Link is a Hugo Award winner, three time Nebula Award winner, and a World Fantasy Award winner. (The Daily Iowan/Margaret Kispert)

By Brett Shaw 

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Devout fans of literature and aspiring writers sat down under the lights of the beautiful Hancher Strauss Hall to hear a reading from multi-genre author and Pulitzer-Prize finalist Kelly Link.

Link began the reading with a haunting yet humorous passage from her short story, “I Can See Right Through You.” In a somewhat conversational manner, she functioned as a ghost-story teller by the campfire, depicting the tale of an actress’ run-ins with fame, a demon lover, and a missing nudist colony.

The audience was held captive by her words, laughing on cue to blunt commentary on pop culture and painfully hilarious scenarios such as a sex tape turned bloody mess. Despite these moments of comedy, the story revolves around tragedy and the painful, shallow lives that the characters live.Following her reading, Link sat down for an open Q&A session with the audience. For many in the lined-up seats, this was an opportunity to gain insight and valuable writing lessons from author they hold in high esteem.

Link discussed methods of escaping writer’s block, managing her independent publishing company with her husband, authors who inspire her, and other aspects of her authorial lifestyle. One writer in the crowd asked Link if she ever desired to keep her completed stories to herself, and Link said no.

“Part of constructing a story is that I am thinking about the people reading it,” she said.

She considers different interpretations and responses from her audience, and those are what actively drive her writing. One thing that Link loves is hearing strong reactions evoked by her writing. She quoted one of her favorite reviews, a one-sentence Tumblr post, “this is the worst book that I have ever read.” She was proud to elicit such intense feelings.

To the delight of the audience, the Q&A ended with Link retelling the story of how she came to love the supernatural works that inspired her work and some real-life ghost stories that she had encountered throughout her life.

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