Kelly Link is the author of the story collections Stranger Things Happen, Magic for Beginners, and Pretty Monsters, as well as the founder, with her husband Gavin J. Grant, of Small Beer Press. A fourth collection of stories, Get in Trouble, is out now from Random House.
This interview first appeared on Wired.com’s The Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast, which is hosted by David Barr Kirtley and produced by John Joseph Adams. Visit geeksguideshow.com to listen to the interview or other episodes.
Your new book is called Get in Trouble; why did you decide to name it that?
When you are getting ready to send out a book of short stories, you read through them all and think about what order you want to them to be in, and you also read them to make sure there are not weird overlaps; if you named a couple characters the same thing. You also start thinking about titles, and as I was reading through these stories, I couldn’t help but notice that these were all people with poor impulse control. They’re . . . maybe not always drawn to trouble, but they don’t avoid it, either. I felt like it was true to the spirit of these characters.
For people who have read your previous short story collections, how would you say that this one is similar to — or different from — those ones?
I think it’s harder for me to say, looking at it from my side. I think there’s still a lot of fantastic business in it this time around; I wanted to write some more zombie stories, but it just didn’t feel like I had any zombie stories in me at the moment. But I was really interested in vampires this time around. There are still a lot of adolescent girls, which is always a fun point-of-view character to write, and it’s possible that some of the stories are a little grimmer. I hope they’re still funny, but the stakes are a little higher this time.
You write a lot of your stories to fit different themed anthologies; is that true in this book?
Yes. Probably half of the stories were written for different editors: Holly Black or Ellen Datlow. And an editor asks you, “Do you want to write a story about ____?” For Holly Black, the anthology was for geek stories — it was called Geektastic — and other than that you could do whatever you wanted. The stories aren’t so much geared towards a particular theme, because most of the editors I’ve worked with are pretty relaxed about what fits the definition of the theme. But it is a great starting place, to have someone say to you, “Have you ever thought about geeks? What kind of story would you like to turn in: board games or music? What’s something you would have fun writing about?” Two of the stories were written for anthologies Gavin and I put together — for Candlewick — and since I was the editor for those, I was pretty sure I would be okay with however I tackled the theme.
What were some of those other themes that you wrote stories for?
One was steampunk and, again speaking from an editorial point of view, when we sent out the call for submissions, we said to the writers whose work we really wanted to publish, “We really don’t have a definition; we just want to give you this word and see what you do with it. What would your version of a ‘steampunk’ story be?” We got great stuff from people like Libba Bray and M.T. Anderson. A couple years later we did an anthology, Monstrous Affections, and again the theme was pretty broad; we sent out for submissions and said, “What we want are stories about monsters and relationships with monsters: family, friends, love stories — whatever you want to do.”
You mentioned Holly Black, and I know that she and Cassandra Clare are two people that you talk with a lot about writing. Did they play a role in some of these stories?
Absolutely, in the sense that Monstrous Affections came about because Cassie, Holly, and I were sitting around talking about one of the tropes of the “vampire” story: Often, it’s a coming of age story. Not for the vampires so much, but for the main character. So you have these adolescents, often, who get involved in vampire business, and I started really thinking about how strange it was that vampires so often fall for teenage girls, and fall so hard that they’re willing to spend a lot of time in high schools, because frankly that sounds terrible to me. Maybe I would make a bad vampire, but my high school experience was not so amazing that I’d want to repeat it. Cassie said that she always figured that, if you were a vampire, the group that you would want to spend the most with would be your peers, and how tragic that moment would be when you realized that your peer group — the group who shares a common body of experiences with you — is about to die out. She said she was thinking about writing a vampire story set in a nursing home, and that was such a touching, unusual take on the vampire story that we started thinking about other kinds of monster stories.
How did that influence stories in Get in Trouble?
My relationship with Holly and Cassie in general? Or . . .
There are two stories in this book, “The New Boyfriend” and “I Can See Right Through You,” that seem directly related to the vampire phenomenon.
“The New Boyfriend” was the story that I wrote for Monstrous Affections, and I knew I wanted to do something with very large dolls that could more or less pass as people. Holly Black — I said to her that I had part of the story, but I needed something to complicate the dynamic between the friends — said, “Well, with teenage girls, envy is always one of the stages that you move through.”
And how about “I Can See Right Through You”?
That is one of the last stories that I finished for the book. I started that story and had to keep on putting it aside or restarting it; I just couldn’t get anywhere. And then I ended up sharing a house with Holly, Cassie, and a couple of other writers — Sarah Rees Brennan and Maureen Johnson — and something about the circumstances of being with a group of people who were all doing their own work was useful to me. That story took the longest, and in some ways I like it best.
The premise is that there are these two actors that had been an Edward and Bella from Twilight-type couple years ago, and now they’re in midlife-crisis territory.
They are at a very different point in their lives. The thing that was fun to write about that story was, if you’re a public figure and particularly well known for one thing, there are so many different versions of you floating around: your private self; the character that people identify you with; the perception of you that has to do with your career, which maybe changes as you continue to do the same thing or try new things; the relationships you have with people who’ve seen you at different points in your life. The main character has been playing a vampire for a very long time; it’s not a life that I envy, but it was a set of different kinds of identities that was fun to explore.
One of our listeners and previous guests, Genevieve Valentine, wanted me to ask you about your “secret vampires.”
I really like Genevieve’s novels, short stories, and what she writes about television as well. I find that I get bored watching television, and I realized that if there isn’t a fantastic or supernatural element to a story, I become wistful and think, “This show would be so much better if at least one of the characters was a vampire.” Then, if you’re watching a television show, you consider which of the characters — although the narrative never acknowledges it — is the vampire, which is a fun game. Usually there’s at least one, and usually everybody can agree.
Genevieve wanted to know, specifically, which show you think would be most improved by the revelation of a secret vampire.
Any reality show: So You Think You Can Dance, or even one of the cooking shows. That’s the only genre of show in which I haven’t tried picturing a secret vampire, but it feels right if you think of Tim Gunn as a kindly, benevolent vampire.
“I Can See Right Through You” deals explicitly with celebrity culture, and a bunch of stories in this book deal with characters who are wealthy and self-absorbed, and obviously we’re living in a time when income inequality is a big issue. Do you think that the stuff going on in our culture influenced these different stories? In particular, “Secret Identity” and “Valley of the Girls.”
I did, when I started looking at the stories, think about the fact that most of these characters were really well off. Many of them were extremely attractive, and most of them had a lot of privilege. I don’t know that I’m the right person to say what it means, that I was writing about all of this, but it is true that we live in a world where you can see the lives of people around you, whether they’re celebrities or family members, and think, “This is a very different way of life.” Or you look at your own life, and think, “Things are pretty good right now,” and then you start to imagine if things weren’t so great. I would say this goes hand in hand with a lot of the apocalyptic fiction that is popular at the moment. It’s partly informed by the fact that many things are going pretty bad. Will there still be fish in the ocean in 2070?
Tell us about “Valley of the Girls,” because that’s a story with an interesting premise.
I started thinking about what it would be like if things continued the way they are and the rich get richer and richer, and the kinds of lifestyles that their kids would have access to and the safeguards that families would put up around those kids, to keep them out of the public eye. Sort of an inversion of celebrity culture; in the story, parents hire “faces” who enact the lives of their kids, so if they are being photographed or they appear on social media, it is these replacement children who have been hired. And if you were a kid and you were invisible to the world and, on the other hand, you were really indulged, what kind of weird hobbies would you have? So the girls are into building pyramids, and the boys collect antique rockets.
“Valley of the Girls” is a play on “Valley of the Kings,” I assume.
Absolutely. I did think, “What are the things that we know about the way that people lived in the past?” and sometimes the biggest markers are the weird, extravagant gestures by people who had a lot of power and wanted to be remembered. I felt there was a tension between adolescents who were hidden away from the world, but still wanted to make their mark.
What do you think about people growing up on the internet and in the public eye, and how bad that can go for them?
Clearly, it goes bad a lot of the time. We have a daughter now, and so as I was going through this story, I was thinking of the ways in which parents become protective. The world changes, there’s not a lot you can do about that; you cannot necessarily protect your kids from the mistakes that they made, and if you did protect them, I’m not sure that’s healthy either. In my story, this is the first generation of kids who have “faces” and they are coming of age and the terms of contract with their public personas is coming to a lapsing point. So the question is: Are they going to become themselves? Or are they going to stay hidden for the rest of their lives? I think it would be hard to give up that privacy. That story ends abruptly, but I still enjoy thinking about some of the decisions those kids make.
That story, and also “Two Houses,” has more technological, science fictional elements than other stories of yours I’ve read. Were you consciously trying to experiment with “science fiction”?
I really love science fiction, and it is really hard to write. I read it, and it goes down smoothly, but if I try and write a story that is overtly science fiction, I’m in the weeds immediately. It’s hard to figure out what kind of details you give the reader: How is the world the same? How has it changed? “Two Houses” was easier to write because it’s space opera, so it’s already removed from a realistic science fiction setting. That was another story I wrote for an anthology, of stories inspired by Ray Bradbury. The thing I got to focus on was how to make the story as “Bradbury” as possible. What were the things that I loved about Bradbury’s science fiction that I could build into that story?
What were those things?
The idea that space is haunted; that maybe you’re a group of astronauts and you are sent out and are headed toward a place or arrive at a place and it turns out that you have, in some way, ended up in an inverted version of where you started off. I’m forgetting the specific names of the Bradbury stories, but the story about the crew that shows up on Mars and appear to have landed in their own town, and their own families, and they are taken home by those families, joyfully. And then at night, it turns out that the people they thought were their families are Martians, and the Martians murder them in their sleep — not out of malice, but because the astronauts don’t belong and the Martians don’t want to be colonized.
That story blew my mind when I was a kid, and I still go back and re-read The Martian Chronicles and his other collections. I knew that I wanted a group of people in space, wanted to make them astronauts, wanted it to be a ghost story. I wanted to make the astronauts mostly a group of women; it seemed to me that if you were sending a group of people on a very long flight, you would choose a group of women. In Bradbury’s stories, the expeditions are all male.
In “Two Houses,” there are these astronauts on this interstellar voyage, and one of the ghost stories that they tell I found incredibly creepy: the one about the two houses in the title. Is that based on something?
“Two Houses” is a club story; it’s a bunch of people in a spaceship, who are a little bored, and what they do is get together and party and tell stories. The thing that pushed me forward in that story, the thing I most wanted to do, was to get to the point where I could actually have them telling ghost stories. The whole point of that was, then, that story about the art installation; these two houses, one original and the other an exact replica that an artist has set up on an estate in England.
There are many things that you cannot do in fiction; there’s not a lot of physicality to writing. I don’t get to go out and build things, and there’s not a lot of sound effects or things like that, so sometimes it’s pleasurable to imagine what you would do in another medium. For a long time, I had been thinking about performance art and installation art, and how you would do something spooky with that. And it was the case that people used to bring over to the US haunted castles; you would bring the pieces of a house over and build it. I guess you did that because you were rich, and because it made you seem fancy.
So I imagined the opposite thing, this artist bringing, piece by piece, a murder house from the US back to an installation in the UK, reassembling it, and building an exact replica so you had two right next to each other — but not telling the people who came to look at them which house was the real one. Then I started to think about the kinds of people that who would live on an estate with that kind of project. When I finally got to that story, that was the point where I heaved a sigh of relief and thought, “Okay, now I’m at the heart of the story; I know what to do from here on out,” because I had moved from science fiction back into scary stories, where I’m more comfortable.
That’s a fascinating idea; maybe someday you can crowdfund that.
That doesn’t seem particularly ethical. Is it more ethical to tell it as a story than create it in real life? Maybe not, but I don’t feel quite as guilty putting it into a story as I would if I were to be an installation artist and build it. That would be creepy, to mess with somebody’s real tragedy like that.
You mentioned, in “Two Houses” and the collection in general, how most of the characters are female. How intentional is that?
Again, when I began to put the stories together, I made a spreadsheet in which I made a list of the thematic material that echoed from story to story. I put down words like, “Mostly funny,” or, “Mostly scary,” or, “A little sad” in a column. I put down the age of the main characters and their genders; and in part, that was so I could think about story order. I also put in a little box, “How long are the various stories?” because putting together the order of a short story collection is complicated. I didn’t think it would be the final order for the collection — I wanted my editor to do that — but I wanted to present something that seemed to work okay.
When I sat down to write “The Lesson,” I did think that I wanted one more story that had men of at least a certain age, just to give the collection a slightly different balance. I don’t think that this is an artificial constraint; I just think that, at a certain point, when you’ve written a group of stories, you think, “Well, I’ve been doing this one thing quite a lot, so let’s see what happens if I work with a different kind of character, or think about a different tonal quality.”
The ARC that I read didn’t include “The Lesson” in it. I found out online that the finished book has it; it was a last minute addition to the manuscript.
I wrote it this summer — I can send you a PDF — and it’s a story about two men who go off to a wedding on an island, and it was a story that I had wanted to write for a long time. Half of it I knew what I wanted to do with, and the other half came to me as I was writing it, but it was originally a story where I thought, “What if I send off a woman, newly single, to a friend’s wedding on an island? And what if there’s a bride-groom who’s arriving late; no one’s really sure if he’s going to arrive at all.” There were a couple of other parts to that story that I wanted to write, and I just couldn’t get anywhere with it. Part of that was because that character felt so similar to some of the other characters I’d written recently, and once I made the viewpoint character a man, the story moved into place.
I gather from reviews that this is the one story in the book that has no overt fantastical elements in it.
That was my goal when I sat down to write; I thought, “I’m going to try to write something that’s a slightly different length, where I do interesting stuff with paragraphing,” because right now, I’m really interested in paragraphs. I feel like I don’t understand how they work. I thought, “I’m going to write some really enormous paragraphs; there’s this story about an island, I want the paragraphs to have almost a weird, floating, island quality to them.” I also thought it would be great to write something in which I couldn’t reach for that thing that I usually like to do when I write a short story, which is a ghost or monster of some kind. I got along pretty well until I started to write in one of the most fun pieces of business that I knew I wanted to put in when I wrote this story; a piece of taxidermy. It comes from a story that my sister told me, about a friend of hers who went to a wedding and there was a piece of taxidermy in the bed and breakfast where she was staying, and it made a lot of noise. She kept waking up and turning on the light and nothing in the room was moving, but she would turn off the lights and hear noises again. And there was a piece of taxidermy by the bed, and eventually, she found out what was making the noise. I knew I wanted to use that in this story, but I kept thinking, “I could make it a badger, I could make it a bird,” and instead I ended up making an animal that doesn’t actually exist, kind of a dodo. It’s this extinct animal; there’s not a lot of them around even in taxidermy form. It looks a bit like a badger, but it doesn’t have a real name; people on this island just called them bad-claws, because they have big claws. So, in fact, I could not entirely keep the non-realistic out of the story.
It does seem like the distinction between realistic and not-realistic is becoming less and less meaningful. Back in 2005, when Michael Chabon put your story “Stone Animals” in Best American Short Stories, it seemed like a huge thing, and these days that kind of thing happens all the time. What do you think about that? How have things changed in the last decade in terms of mixing together realistic and non-realistic fiction?
I love it, as a reader of books; it’s been great for me as a writer, because I think that there is a sense in publishing that readers are much more open to stories which are not realistic. It’s a shift which I think happens every once in a while; the kinds of mimetic fiction which were popular for so long, and the stuff which was considered “genre” — fantasy or horror or science fiction — used to be much more intertwined than they were; there was a period in which they were separate and now it seems like things are moving back together again. I think, in large part, it’s because there hasn’t been this kind of divide in most kinds of entertainment; it’s not as if people only go see realistic dramas about marriages, they also go see horror movies, romantic comedies, musicals — you just go to see things that you think you might enjoy. And the same has always been true of poetry; you, as the writer, use whatever works best to convey your point of view and to describe the world in some way.
The first two collections that I wrote received the kinds of attention I did not expect; they were reviewed in places I didn’t think they would be reviewed in. I really expected, when I was first writing short stories, I would mostly be writing for an audience well versed in genre and that loved, specifically, fantasy, science fiction, and horror. I read anything I can get my hands on, but I didn’t expect that the kinds of work that I did would find a larger audience. God knows there is a lot of other great work which mostly reaches a genre audience that I think should reach a much wider readership.
In a lot of ways, the last holdout in this has been academia. I know that you’ve done various fellowships and teaching gigs; what have you personally seen in terms of how receptive people are becoming to more fantastic kinds of storytelling?
I always figure that if I’m being asked to teach, the university, or wherever is asking, has to be open, to a certain degree, to weird fiction. The most teaching I’ve done has been at the Clarion workshop, the fantasy and science fiction workshop — six weeks — that runs out of Seattle and San Diego. They’re summer workshops, and the people go write six stories in six weeks, and they have six different instructors. One of the things they always do is ask the students, “What do you like to read?” And it used to be the case that the touchstone writers for them were mostly in genre. Now when I teach at Clarion, people mention the same genre writers, but they’ll also mention people like Eudora Welty or sometimes Raymond Carver; or they talk about novels which are realistic novels, sometimes nonfiction.
And the same thing goes for the other programs that I teach; they read young adult and fantasy and science fiction as much as they read in the realistic mode. The question that I now ask alongside that is, “What’s the thing that you read that feels most at a remove from the stuff that you want to write?” That’s really interesting, because sometimes it’s romance novels, and in one case it was gaming manuals — and this was a poet saying this. This was in a workshop up here; a mixed-genre workshop, in the sense that both poets and fiction writers were in the workshop. A couple of the poets turned in short stories clearly grounded in science fiction.
Do those people ever say that they read Kelly Link? From my perspective, among writers of my generation, I feel so many have been influenced by you. This book has a blurb from Karen Russell, who is one of the biggest examples of a brilliant writer who was influenced by your work.
When I read what she does, I love it; in part, because it reads like her. I don’t really see anything of myself reflected in it. That’s always a little strange; you don’t want to see yourself when you read. That’s a little hard for me to speak to; occasionally, an editor will say to me, “I got a Kelly Link story from somebody.” I have no idea what that means. They were probably reading some George Saunders, and maybe Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling’s fairy tale anthologies, Angela Carter, Shirley Jackson, Shelley Jackson, Jonathan Lethem, Karen Joy Fowler — There’s a lot of work right now at that mixing point. And there has been, I think, for the last thirty years.
One of the things that you mix into this book is the superhero stuff. Did you grow up reading comic books? What sort of history do you have with superheroes?
I did not grow up reading superhero comics; I did not start reading comics until maybe my last year of high school, at which point, half the time I went into the comic book store, people in the aisles would say, “Excuse me, sir,” even though I had long hair and was wearing a skirt. It did not seem like there were a lot of girls going to comic book stores, at least not in North Carolina. The comic book that got me hooked was Cerebus; I saw an issue in the window and just loved the art. As for superheroes, I saw the Superman movies when I was a kid, watched Batman on TV, and after that the next exposure was Frank Miller and Alan Moore. I was asked if I would contribute to an anthology of superhero stories; two editors, one of whom was Owen King, asked if I would write a story and I spent a lot of time thinking about a Bradbury-esque superhero story; I still have it in my head, but can’t think of a way to make it work. So I totally missed that anthology, but because I’d been thinking about that story for so long, when Holly Black asked for a story for Geektastic, I managed something. I did that because I love epistolary stories, and I wanted to write about a convention of superheroes at a hotel.
This is your story, “Secret Identity”; I love that story. But these aren’t action-adventure superhero stories; the super powers are all a little bit everyday. What is it about these disappointing powers that interest you?
This comes out of reading the comics that came out of that generation after Alan Moore and Frank Miller, where you did think about the people who had the powers that weren’t so amazing. In the two superhero stories that I have, there are people who go out and do the usual things, yet I cannot quite fully commit to writing a story about people who go out there and save the world, in part because so many people have already told that story. So I can set that story on the sideline, but the thing I’m actually interested in is those weird liminal spaces in hotels and people who make statues of superheroes out of butter. I say this and will still go see a superhero story. I feel that a lot of other people have done that better than I could, or at least, I wouldn’t be bringing anything new to it.
“Origin Story” is set in an abandoned Wizard of Oz theme park, and I understand that this is based on an actual place?
The Land of Oz, which was an amusement park that I went to many times as a kid. It was one of those places that was boring once you went the first time; you rode a gondola, there was taffy and fudge, and there were people dressed up as characters from The Wizard of Oz. In any case, it closed by the time I was in high school or college, and it had an interesting half-life after that; people would hike up and hang out. The equivalent of urban explorers, except you’re doing it in the mountains of North Carolina. And then I think it was bought by a bunch of real estate developers, and I don’t know if it’s actually been turned into housing yet or not.
What was it about that that made you want to use it as a setting?
I’d always wanted to use it as a setting, and part of that is that Baum and Oz is one of those American mythological touchstones. Everybody knows the basic story of Dorothy and the Oz-book and the movie, so if I use part of that in one of my stories, people are thinking about those characters and the shape of that story. And then there are ways for me to riff off of that and tell a different story. I still go see my family in North Carolina, and we’re up in that area, and I have never hiked up there to see what it’s like now — I think it’s mostly fallen apart — but it was a way for me to revisit it.
You and your husband, Gavin Grant, run Small Beer Press and edit Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet. What’s the current status of those?
We’re at the point in the year with Small Beer where we’re working on covers for books that are going to be coming out six months to a year from now; we are working on a Jeffrey Ford collection, an M. Rickert collection, and a sequel to Sofia Samatar’s novel, A Stranger in Olondria, which is really exciting for both of us.
With Lady Churchill’s, we are still putting out about two issues a year; we’re going to have a guest editor for the first time: Michael [W.] Lucas. It’s exciting to pass it off and see what kind of issue he produces. The zine is something, I imagine, we’ll always put out, because it’s a way for us to publish newer writers, and it’s pleasurable, getting the slush pile in and reading through it, finding work by writers that we don’t know. I love short stories.
I heard you say in an interview that if Amazon takes over too much of the book market, that could put Small Beer Press out of business.
This is kind of a crux point for publishers, another one of those weird points in publishing where things shift, and part of it does have to do with economics, that right now the margin is good enough for us to keep putting out books but, if that margin shrinks . . . Our goal has always been to not go into debt; to make sure the press is self-sustaining. We sometimes have years where something sells like [hot cakes], and sometimes we publish work that we love but that doesn’t necessarily find as large an audience. But there is a certain point where the margins wouldn’t be sustainable, and there have been all the articles about the issues that self-published writers are having with Amazon in terms of how much money they get. The thing with Amazon is that they are a company that sells a lot of books, but the question is finding that point where booksellers — Amazon or whoever — are profitable but it’s also profitable for the writers and for publishers.
Should people order books directly from your website?
There are two sides to this: Amazon is excellent at customer service, and serves a purpose for people who don’t have great indie bookstores. But what makes me happiest is when people have a local or favorite independent bookstore and they are placing orders through that bookstore. If my local bookstore doesn’t have the thing I’m looking for, I order it and then just wait two days and it shows up. The great thing about that is that you go into the bookstore and find books you wouldn’t necessarily know about.
I was looking at the Small Beer website, and I came across this post where you said that you would be bankrupt due to medical expenses if not for the MassHealth program. Could you talk about that?
Our daughter, about six years ago, was born at twenty-four weeks, which is right at the point of viability. So she was in hospitals for a year and a half; she was in the NICU, and then we had to move to Boston so she could be at the hospitals there. She’s doing great now; she was looked after by excellent doctors and nurses, and all of that was covered by our healthcare. We would have been bankrupt.
So this is the Romney-care that was the basis for the Affordable Care Act.
Exactly. I have no complaints; we still think that if Massachusetts showed up and said, “Great that you guys got through that, but we’re going to take away your house now,” we would be like, “Okay, that seems fair.” But we’re very grateful that we still have a house.
My girlfriend and I went to the Bell House last year to see a Great Gatsby erotic fan fiction reading . . .
Wow . . . That is a terrific sentence.
Tell us about taking part in that.
This is an event that the Booksmith in San Francisco has been running for a while, where they take a classic piece of literature and ask a bunch of writers to write erotic fan fiction about it. I was asked, and honored by the invitation, and I was working with Holly Black in her house. I was a bit of a chicken; I thought, “I could do this, I suppose, but it sounds like it would be a lot more fun to write it with somebody else.” So we both went through The Great Gatsby, made a lot of notes about stuff that seemed like it’d be fun to rework and places where we could use direct quotes. It was great, in part because I don’t collaborate that much and that was pleasurable, and we got to see some extraordinary people read the fan fiction.
It was a fantastic event; I enjoyed it.
I’m glad you enjoyed it; it was one of the most fun things I’ve ever done.
Finally, do you have any other projects you want to mention?
I’m working on a novel. I’m going to be touring for this book pretty soon, and other than that, I have a fancy new website, I’m on Twitter and things like that. Mostly, I feel a sense of relief that I finished all the stories in the book and people seem to like them.
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