A L Kennedy is the author of five novels, two books of non-fiction and four collections of short stories. Her most recent book, Day, was the 2007 Costa Book of the Year.
She has twice been selected as one of Granta's Best of Young British
Novelists and has won many prizes including the Lanna Literary award,
the Austrian State Prize for European Literature, the Somerset Maugham
Award and the Saltire Scottish Book of the Year award. She lives in
Glasgow and is a part-time lecturer in creative writing at Warwick
(Jonathan Cape, 2009)
by Tania Hershman
Short Story included in: Freedom Anthology
by Tania Hershman
(Amnesty International, 2009)
Short Story included in: The Book of Other People
by Sara Crowley
edited by Zadie Smith
Indelible Acts, 2002
Original Bliss, 1997
Now That You're Back, 1994
Night Geometry and the Garscadden Trains, 1991
with A L Kennedy
How long did it take you to write all the stories in your collection?
A L Kennedy: The bulk of them were probably produced during a year, but 4 or so were written over the course of a couple of preceding years.
have a collection in mind when you were writing them?
suppose I always have it in mind that I produce collections and I tend
to know if something is okay to make the cut, or just for a specific
collection and not that great and not saveable. Oddly the title story
was the first I wrote of this batch and it was immediately suggestive
of a way of binding things together and themes and so forth - so then I
had a few years to think about broken people.
you choose which stories to include and in what order?
order is always a bit arbitrary - there's no reason to actually assume
that someone will chose to read in that order and they shouldn't
necessarily. I tend to place them in a way that tries to separate dark
from light and male from female and maybe have kick up towards the end
- certainly not to have too strong a change of gear too close together.
Which stories to include just goes according to theme and if I think
things are passable/bearable or not.
does the word "story"
mean to you?
Very little and everything. Everything is a story. The short story is a
precious and underappreciated form, but almost everything is a story -
prayers and adverts and flirting and daydreams and plays and religions
- all stories.
Do you have a reader in mind when you write stories?
No. I have enough trouble imagining the people who don't exist. I juist
have to hope that there's someone out there who will take an interest
and who shares some of my concerns and fondnesses.
anything you'd like to ask someone who has read your collection,
anything at all?
ALK: Lord, no. None of my business. And leave them be - they've probably suffered enough.
TSR: How does
it feel knowing that people are buying your book?
ALK: I'm not sure if I've ever had that feeling.
What are you working on now?
ALK: The run up to the next novel - always a terrifying time.
the three most recent short story collections you've read?
I've been living in Researchland for a very long time. I think the last
collection was a bunch of old stuff from Penn and Teller, oddly. And I
had a go again at Katherine Mansfield - beyond that I can't recall. Head like a string bag, me.