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C. C. Finlay interviews Kelly Link on “The White Cat’s Divorce”

Kelly Link“The White Cat’s Divorce” was commissioned by the Weatherspoon Art Museum at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, for their 2018 exhibit “Dread & Delight: Fairy Tales in an Anxious World” and was published in the catalog for the show. Which is not an ordinary venue for speculative fiction! How did that come about?

Emily Stamey, who conceived of the exhibit and then curated it, contacted me to see if I would be interested in writing a fairy tale for the catalog. I went to high school in Greensboro, and then grad school at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, so that was a strong inducement. I went down and met with Emily, and we went through the pieces that she was hoping to include in the exhibit, and then I came home again and wrote the story.


Was your process different for writing this story, just because it might reach a different audience or had a different kind of venue?

Not really! Any audience, whether they are encountering this kind of story in a genre magazine or an art catalogue, will have some familiarity with fairytales. They’re more or less in our DNA. But when I sent it off to her, I didn’t know entirely what she would think since she was a new editor for me. Fortunately it turned to be more or less what she had in mind when she invited me to contribute.

I’ve been working on a new collection of stories, all of which have roots in various fairytales — “The White Cat’s Divorce” is based on Marie-Catherine d’Aulnoy’s “The White Cat”. You can find it here:

But it’s also based on my working relationship with Holly Black and Cassandra Clare. The three of us (and sometimes other writer friends) work together on a regular basis. We’re engaged in our own novels/stories/etc, but we also spend a fair amount of time talking with each other about our projects. Holly wrote a trilogy of contemporary young adult novels that are loosely connected to the original fairytale (the first novel in Holly’s series is WHITE CAT) and she tells a version of the fairytale that made me reconsider what’s at the heart of that story. It’s also incredibly funny. So I’d had “White Cat” on the brain for a long time.


You and your husband Gavin Grant recently opened a bookstore. How did that happen and where should people go if they want to buy all the books?

Yes! The owner of a small used/new bookstore in Easthampton had been trying to find new owners for quite some time. Thanks to the MacArthur Foundation, Gavin and I were in a position where we could take it over. It’s now called Book Moon and you can find us at Physically, we’re located at 86 Cottage Street in Easthampton, next door to the sushi restaurant. There’s a great cocktail bar down the street. Gavin and I originally met working at a new and used bookstore, Avenue Victor Hugo, in Boston. So this is a happy return for us.


We hear you’re working on a novel… but we’re afraid that if we ask about that, it will jinx things. What other kinds of things are you working on right now? (We admit we were pretty chuffed to see GHOST OF THE SHADOW MARKET by Cassandra Clare, you, and some other great writers in our local grocery store this week.)

I now have about 190,000 words of novel. I’m hoping to have a very messy first draft done by the end of the year, so that I can get to the pleasurable part: revising. I’m also about two stories away from having a collection’s worth of short stories. And if Cassie ever wants me to write more short stories with her, I’m down for that. It’s a blast.


Any general advice about zombies?

Don’t lick them.


“The White Cat’s Divorce” appears in the 70th Anniversary Issue of F&SF.

You can buy a paper copy of the issue here:

You can buy an electronic copy of the issue here:

You can subscribe to the print edition of F&SF here:

You can subscribe to the electronic edition of F&SF at the following links:

Weightless Books (all formats):

Amazon US (Kindle edition):

Amazon UK (Kindle edition):

Visit Kelly Link’s website by clicking on her photo.


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