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NPR Arts & Life

Drift Away Into The Not-Quite-Dreamy Logic Of 'Get In Trouble'

Author Kelly Link says her short stories are inspired by what she calls "night time logic." In fiction that strives for realism, she says, everything has a place. Everything makes sense. It's kind of like dream logic, she tells NPR's Audie Cornish, "except that when you wake up from a dream, you think, well, that didn't make sense. Night time logic in stories, you think, I don't understand why that made sense, but I feel there was a kind of emotional truth to it."

Link slips in and out of night time logic in her latest collection of stories, Get in Trouble. They start out innocently enough — like a young woman in a small beachside town taking care of rich people's summer houses.

Of course there ends up being something supernatural about one of those houses — and in the hands of Kelly Link, also something painfully familiar about feeling of being stuck in your hometown. "I live in Northampton, which is a very pleasant place to live," she says. "And one of the things you really notice when you live there is the way in which students come, and then they go, the town empties out ... If you live in a place with a changing population like that, you start to feel a little bit strange about the fact that you are in that place permanently."


Interview Highlights

Kelly Link's work also include <em>Stranger Things Happen, Magic for Beginners, </em>and <em>Pretty Monsters.</em>
Sharona Jacobs / Courtesy of Sharona Jacobs Photography LLC
Kelly Link's work also include <em>Stranger Things Happen, Magic for Beginners, </em>and <em>Pretty Monsters.</em>

On whether the characters know their worlds, or are as surprised as the reader

I think both kinds of stories are a lot of fun. It's fun when a character is sort of a stand-in for the reader, and strange things happen to them, and they are unsettled by them. But it's a lot of fun to write a story in which everybody in the story already feels at ease with the strangeness — I think there's a kind of useful dissonance, reading a world in which the people in that world are used to that place. And that's because that's true of real life; you often come into situations where everybody already knows what's going on, and you have to sort of piece it together.

On the stories she grew up reading

I read pretty much anything I could get my hands on. My dad read me all of Tolkien when I was in kindergarten. My mom read me all of C.S. Lewis. And then when once I learned to read — I was a little bit slow — I would just go to the library and sort of work my way through the shelves.

My parents have explained to me that apparently I was ... a little bit lazy. I felt that if I learned how to read, that in fact they would stop reading to me ... I think what they finally did to get me to read was, they sat me down on the couch and explained that if I would learn how to read, I could read any time I wanted to read. And that was persuasive.

On romance in her work

I do love love stories. I spent a lot of the time when I was going through an MFA in creative writing program sneaking out to bookstores and reading paperback romance novels ... and I would really hope now that if anybody out there is in a writing program, that they would boldly read their romance novels. That's one of the things about figuring out what kind of story you want to write, is figuring out the kinds of things you are drawn to, even if you feel you shouldn't be drawn to them.

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