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 University.

Short Story Collections

What Becomes
(Jonathan Cape, 2009)

reviewed by Tania Hershman

Short Story included in: Freedom Anthology
(Amnesty International, 2009)

reviewed by Tania Hershman

Short Story included in: The Book of Other People
edited by Zadie Smith

reviewed by Sara Crowley

Indelible Acts, 2002

Original Bliss, 1997

Now That You're Back, 1994

Night Geometry and the Garscadden Trains, 1991

Interview with A L Kennedy

The Short Review: 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.

TSR: Did you have a collection in mind when you were writing them?

ALK: I 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.

TSR: How did you choose which stories to include and in what order?

ALK: The 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.

TSR: What does the word "story" mean to you?

ALK: 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.

TSR: Do you have a reader in mind when you write stories?

ALK:  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.

TSR: Is there 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.

TSR: What are you working on now?

ALK: The run up to the next novel - always a terrifying time.

TSR: What are the three most recent short story collections you've read?

ALK: Hmmm... 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.
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