Author Kelly Luce read excerpts from her first book of short stories at Tuesday night’s Live Oak Reading.
Luce’s reading was a part of the Live Oak Reading series that is hosted by the TCU English Department several times a semester.
“Three Scenarios in Which Hana Sasaki Grows a Tail” is not only Luce’s first book, but also the first book published by A Strange Object, an independent press based in Austin.
“I haven’t visited too many colleges. I visit mostly bookstores and literary festivals,” said Luce. “I would love to do it more though, because it’s cool to interact with young people, people who want to write and learn how to write. It hasn’t been long since I was in that position.”
Luce also visited Assistant Professor Matthew Pitt’s Fiction Workshop class Tuesday afternoon. Pitt assigned one of Luce’s short stories as a reading assignment. Some of Pitt’s students were also in attendance at the reading.
Pitt, who met Luce several years ago at the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, said he first suggested that Luce visit TCU and then discussed it with his colleagues.
“When you know someone’s work and you already know you respect that work, and you know them and you know that they’ll bring something to campus, it makes it a much easier sell,” said Pitt. “That’s what we want here. We want students to feel engaged by the writers we bring in.”
Luce read excerpts from two short stories, “Ms. Yamada’s Toaster,” a story of a toaster able to predict people’s deaths and a story titled “Amorometer.” Both are available in her collection of short stories.
Both stories, along with the others from her book are set in Japan, where Luce spent three years of her life. After graduating from Northwestern University with a degree in cognitive science, Luce moved to Japan for a new experience. She then experimented with a career in writing.
“I had always loved writing and I never saw it as something I could do. I did not come from a family of artists,” she said. “Once I got old enough, though, I realized I could really study this.”
After she began publishing short stories, she was published in The Chicago Tribune, Crazyhorse, The Southern Review and other publications. She has received acclaim in both the United States and Japan.
Students said that they enjoyed their time with Luce.
“I had to come for class, but I was also interested in hearing from her because I would like to be an author too, so it wasn’t entirely mandatory for me,” said sophomore writing major Emma Crandall.
“I think with just how creative her writing is, it made me realize you should try anything, and sometimes it’ll work and sometimes it won’t,” she said. “But I’ll keep going anyway.”
After the readings, Luce answered a few student questions and signed copies of her book.
When asked about her advice for future authors, Luce said, “Read and write a lot. Continue doing it long after you think you should have succeeded.”
In fact, Luce says she feels confident that it doesn’t take anything special to be a writer.
“Everyone can write, but learning how to communicate through written words clearly is tricky,” she said. “If you want to write, I think you will do it.”