Tag Archive for Kit Reed

Resident Writer Reed Remembered for being a Fierce Advocate for Students, Fiction

Kit Reed (Photo by Beth Gwynn)

Kit Reed (Photo by Beth Gwynn)

Kit Reed died on Sunday, Sept. 24, in Los Angeles, Calif., at the age of 85.

After several post-college years as an award-winning journalist, Kit Reed moved to Middletown in 1960 when her husband, Joe Reed, took a position with Wesleyan’s English Department. Kit Reed became a visiting professor of English in 1974, an adjunct professor of English in 1987, and resident writer in 2008. A former Guggenheim fellow, Reed was the first American recipient of an international literary grant from the Abraham Woursell Foundation. Her work has been nominated for the Locus Award, the Campbell Award, the World Fantasy Award, the Tiptree Award and she was twice nominated for the Shirley Jackson Award.

Reed was instrumental in the construction of the Creative Writing Program, helping to attract notable writers from across the country, both within the program and yearly at the Wesleyan Writers Conference. She was a fierce advocate for her students and for fiction itself. Many notable writers came through her care, including Stephen Alter, Suzanne Berne, Peter Blauner, Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snickett), Akiva Goldsman, Nina Shengold, DB Weiss (Game of Thrones), and Zack Whedon, as well as many others who remained dear, lifelong friends.

Reed, by last count, wrote 39 books of fiction. As her daughter Kate Maruyama noted, “Kit’s last novel, MORMAMA, came out the day she went in for a biopsy. Her last short story, Disturbance in the Produce Aisle, came out in Asimov’s Magazine the month that she died. May we all be that dedicated, determined and prolific.”

5 Questions With . . . Resident Writer Kit Reed on New Books

Kit Reed (Photo by Beth Gwynn)

Kit Reed (Photo by Beth Gwynn)

In this issue of the Wesleyan Connection, we speak with Kit Reed, resident writer in the English Department. Reed recently published two new books, Son of Destruction (Severn House), in which a reporter searches for his father and winds up investigating cases of human spontaneous combustion; and The Story Until Now (Wesleyan University Press), a rich collection of 35 stories that displays the range and complexity of her work.

In a recent review of Reed’s two books in The New York Times, thriller writer Chelsea Cain wrote: “Reed finds humanity in the most fantastic places. She does it without pretension. And she does it with a sense of humor and no apologies. In my Museum of American Writers, I’d have a statue of Kit Reed in the lobby.”

Q: You’ve described yourself as “transgenred.” Would you talk about that?

A: Mother Isn’t Dead She’s Only Sleeping, my first novel, was a comic novel, set in Fort Jude, Florida. At War As Children, my second, was elegiac; both were drawn immediately from life. The third, The Better Part, was drawn from life but included one imagined detail: The narrator was the daughter of a man who ran the world’s largest correctional school for troubled teens. I’ve always been interested in dystopias, which makes some editors believe it’s SF—that is, speculative fiction, where writers can expand their imaginations beyond the seen world. The novels have, variously, been marketed accordingly, and the short fiction goes where editors who like a particular story take them, which means they’ve been in The Yale Review, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, The Kenyon Review, Asimov’s SF, Missouri Review, New Haven Review, and… and… You get the idea. And I’m described as a “literary” writer (The Norton Anthology)!

George Saunders and Karen Russell came that route somewhat later. Editorial territory is less hostile now, and few reviewers have picked up on the fact that they are writing (shhh) SF, but that’s what they’re doing. It’s a friendlier climate for, OK, works that expand the imagination.

Literary, sometimes comic, always reality-based, but sometimes SF, oh right, and a couple of psychothrillers in the ’90s. In short, I’m “transgenred” because I don’t belong anywhere.

Q: What inspired your latest novel?

Novel by Kit Reed

Novel by Kit Reed

A: A spectacular instance of spontaneous human combustion in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Reed’s Son of Destruction Published

Book by Kit Reed.

Book by Kit Reed.

Kit Reed, resident writer in the English Department, is the author of Son of Destruction, published by Severn House (U.K.) in October 2012. The U.S. version will be released in March 2013.

When his mother dies, Dan Carteret has only two leads to the identity of his father: a photograph of four young men, and a newspaper cutting showing the remains of a victim of spontaneous human combustion. Carteret travels to his mother’s hometown of Fort Jude and discovers that three cases of spontaneous combustion have occurred there in the recent past. In the search for his father, he confronts an affluent, insular society that closes ranks and refuses to give up the secret of what happened to Carteret’s mother at a fateful beach party in her youth. A fragmented narrative, using half a dozen different viewpoints, tells the story of the “thin line between an organised society and raw nature,” and presents a compelling account of people torn by clan loyalty and made desperate by love, hate and loneliness.

More information on the book is online here.The book is reviewed in The Financial Times.

Book by Writer-in-Residence Reed Nominated for Shirley Jackson Award

Kit Reed

Resident Writer Kit Reed has been nominated for a Shirley Jackson Award. Her book, What Wolves Know, published in spring 2011 by PS Publishing, was nominated in the category of Single Author Collection.

What Wolves Know is a dystopian thriller; a collection of stories, including tales of mothers who are monstrous in their maternalness, families on the brink of implosion, and children mutated by parental pressure. The title story is about a boy raised by wolves who struggles to adapt to the modern world. Reed has published 22 novels and more than 100 short stories. More information about her work is available on her web site.

The Shirley Jackson Awards recognize outstanding achievement in the literature of psychological suspense, horror and the dark fantastic. The awards were established in honor of author Shirley Jackson (1916-1965), who wrote such classic novels as The Haunting of Hill House and We Have Always Lived in the Castle, as well as the famous short story, “The Lottery.”

The 2011 Shirley Jackson Awards will be presented on July 15 at Readercon 23, Conference on Imaginative Literature, in Burlington, Mass.