One is not supposed to argue publicly with one's fellow writers. Or at least not when it's their show, and they are also your publisher. Nonetheless, last night at Seattle's University Bookstore I got into it, in a friendly way, with Kelly Link, one of SF's brightest young stars, whose husband Gavin Grant runs Small Beer Press. Small Beer published my recent collection of short stories, FOUNTAIN OF AGE AND OTHER STORIES.
First, both Gavin and Kelly read:
Then, during the Q&A, Kelly asked the audience a question: How many people in the audience read a novel out of order? Many did. Kelly said she does, too, sometimes: reading the end, peeking at the middle. "But..but...." I sputtered, "you can't do that!"
Obviously she can. Kelly said it lessens the tension over wondering what will happen, and that when she knows the outcome, she can relax and better appreciate the build-up. I said that as a novelist, I don't WANT the tension lessened -- I work hard to arrange things in a sequence that will increase it! The audience laughed. Kelly, who is a very sweet-natured person, explained further in the soothing tone when uses to calm down disturbed dogs. I was not convinced.
And I'm still not.
But the reading was good.