Link, Kelly

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Link, Kelly


Married Gavin Grant (a publisher), 2001. Education: Columbia University, B.A.; University of North Carolina, M.F.A.


Home—Northampton, MA. Office—Small Beer Press, 176 Prospect Ave., Northampton, MA 01060. E-mail—[email protected].


Writer. Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet, coeditor; Small Beer Press, Northampton, MA, coowner. Also teaches writing seminars.


James Tiptree, Jr., Award, 1997, for "Travels with the Snow Queen"; World Fantasy Award, 1999, for "The Specialist's Hat"; Nebula Award, Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, 2002, for "Louise's Ghost"; Book of the Year,, 2002, for Stranger Things Happen; Nebula Award, Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, 2005, for "The Faery Handbag"; Nebula Award, Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, 2005, for Magic for Beginners.


Stranger Things Happen (short stories), Small Beer Press (Northampton, MA), 2001.

(Editor) Trampoline: An Anthology, Small Beer Press (Northampton, MA), 2003.

Magic for Beginners (stories), illustrated by Shelley Jackson, Small Beer Press (Northampton, MA), 2005.

(Editor, with husband Gavin J. Grant) The Best of Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet, introduction by Dan Chaon, Del Rey/Ballantine Books (New York, NY), 2007.

Also author of the novelette "The Faery Handbag."


Kelly Link, the author of the short-story collections Stranger Things Happen and Magic for Beginners, is also the coeditor of the magazine Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet, which publishes works of fiction, and coowner of Small Beer Press, which published her first book.

Stranger Things Happen, Link's first collection, was named's Book of the Year, and three of the individual stories won prestigious awards of their own. Andrew O'Hehir in the New York Times Book Review referred to Link's Stranger Things Happen as an "often dazzling debut collection" that is "not entirely of this world." Link often mixes reality with fantasy, preferring to keep her readers on guard. In her interview with Miller, Link admitted: "I like the idea of taking things that are alien and making them seem really very cozy and familiar." Then she added: "On the other hand, what I like about more realistic fiction … is the way it looks at familiar things and makes them seem so strange. What I hope to do is to mix those up, so that you're constantly feeling comfortable and unsettled at the same time." Booklist contributor Bonnie Johnston commented on Link's technique by describing her stories as "strange and tantalizing," as she gives her fiction a "fair-tale ambience" as she "boldly weaves myth and fairy tale into contemporary life."

The story "Travels with the Snow Queen" won the James Tiptree, Jr., Award, and is loosely based on the fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen, but with a slight feminist twist. In Link's version of this story, the heroine is all grown up and is searching for her lover, who has left her for the Snow Queen. In the process of the search, she comprises a list of things that she plans to recite upon finding her lover. This list, as quoted by Chris Barzak's in a review for the Strange Horizons Web site, includes: "I never really liked your friends all that much" and "After you left, I didn't water your plants on purpose. They're all dead." Her boyfriend was last seen by a clerk at a corner store, who relates that the missing lover left with a beautiful woman who was riding in a sleigh pulled by white geese. As she searches for her lover, the young woman meets several larger-than-life characters and "more talking animals than she would have preferred," wrote Laura Miller in

The protagonist decides, by the end of her search, that she does not really want her lover to return to her, after all. As a contributor to Publishers Weekly pointed out, the protagonist eventually "reconsiders her fairy-tale romance when she deconstructs the clichés of traditional fairy tales and realizes that their heroines inevitably sacrifice and suffer much more than their heroes do."

Though Link is not the only writer who has put a feminist twist on old fairy tales, Miller, in her review for, noted that Link's style makes her effort distinctive. "Link's writing is cool, controlled and scrupulously spare," Miller wrote, adding that, while other writers have celebrated female desire, "Link prefers to tally up its costs."

In her second collection of stories, Magic for Beginners, Link presents nine stories that take place in the real, everyday world but contain fantastical elements. For example, a convenience-store clerk who works nights has as his regular customers zombies and women with ghost dogs. In another tale, when a city family moves to the suburbs, they find that their house seems to be mysteriously guarded by a cadre of rabbits. Magic for Beginners has received widespread praise from reviewers. "Link is the purest, most distinctive surrealist in America," wrote Ray Olson in Booklist. A Publishers Weekly contributor called the stories in Magic for Beginners "effervescent blends of quirky humor and pathos that transform stock themes of genre fiction into the stuff of … lyrical fantasy."



Booklist, July, 2001, Bonnie Johnston, review of Stranger Things Happen, p. 1991; June 1, 2005, Ray Olson, review of Magic for Beginners, p. 1768.

New York Times Book Review, November 11, 2001, Andrew O'Hehir, "Hell's Belles."

Publishers Weekly, June 25, 2001, review of Stranger Things Happen, p. 56; June 6, 2005, review of Magic for Beginners, p. 45; July 25, 2005, James Ireland Baker, "Maverick Fabulist: Kelly Link, Rising Star, Goes Her Own Way," p. 36.


Beatrice, (May 16, 2002), Ron Hogan, "Beatrice Interview with Kelly Link."

Bookslut, (August 5, 2007), Adam Lipkin, review of Trampoline: An Anthology.

Eve's Alexandria, (December 26, 2006), "Magical Realism," review of Magic for Beginners.

Kelly Link Home Page, (August 5, 2007)., (May 16, 2002), Laura Miller, "Romance and Other Myths" (interview); Laura Miller, review of Stranger Things Happen.

Strange Horizons, (May 16, 2002), Chris Barzak, "Witnessing Magic: Kelly Link's Stranger Things Happen"; (February 28, 2005), Lynne Jamneck, "20 Questions with Kelly Link."