Workshopping With Kelly Link

I’ve been a part of the same writers workshop — named Who Wants Cake after a bit from Amy Sedaris’s Strangers With Candy — for twelve years now, but yesterday we did something we’ve never done before. We had a special guest join us for a crit session: Kelly Link. Everyone in the workshop is a huge fan of her work. Two of our members have actually studied with her before at Clarion. We all look up to her so much that it was a real pleasure to have her with us.

We’re a very good workshop, we’ve honed our critiquing skills over the years, but Kelly’s crits were on a whole other level — so smart and astute and just astonishing. She didn’t critique anything I wrote, but even just hearing her thoughts on other people’s work was transformative and inspiring. It gave me lots of great things to think about for the novel I’m currently working on. I wish Kelly could be part of our workshop more frequently. The door is open for her return any time, and I hope we’ll see her again soon.

After a quick nosh in which Kelly spoke reverently of her love of The Vampire Diaries, we all headed downtown to the Pen Parentis reading series — founded and executive directed by M.M. De Voe,  a member of our workshop — to hear Kelly read with Lev Grossman and Marly Youmans.


Here is M.M. De Voe (Milda to her friends) standing up and introducing the evening. On the couch, left to right, are Lev Grossman, Marly Youmans, and Kelly Link. Seated in the chair at the far left is curator and co-host of Pen Parentis, Christina Chiu.


More introductions. The reading was held at the Andaz on Wall Street, and they gave Pen Parentis a really beautiful room on the mezzanine.


Here is Lev Grossman reading from The Magician’s Land while Christina Chiu looks on.


Here is Marly Youmans talking with Alexa during intermission. The novel Youmans read from is called Glimmerglass and takes place in a fake version of Cooperstown, NY, where the Glimmerglass Opera is located. Alexa used to work at the Glimmerglass opera, and we’re friends with the costume director there. We bought a copy of the book for our friend and had Ms. Youmans sign it to her.


Here is Kelly Link answering a question during the Q&A session after her reading. She read a portion of her story “Two Houses” from the collection Get In Trouble, but I was too engrossed during the reading to take a picture, so this will have to do.

It was a really special day, energizing and inspiring and filled with a warm sense of camaraderie. I’ll cherish it for a long time.

2 responses to “Workshopping With Kelly Link”

  1. Livia Llewellyn says:

    Kelly was hands-down the best teacher I had at Clarion – the others were good, but she was truly phenomenal. I’m so glad you had a chance to workshop with her!

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