Literary boyfriend trouble, and a lie comes to life in two stories from an evening at Symphony Space hosted by the protean fantasy writer Neil Gaiman. Gaiman is the author of the Hugo and Nebula Award-winning novel American Gods, the children’s book Coraline, which was made into a movie, as well as contributing to the Sandman series of graphic novels. His huge fan base—two million strong—follows him on twitter (@neilhimself), and many seemed to be on hand for his live appearance with the series. Gaiman’s theme for the evening was “magical realism”, which he describes as “fiction set very solidly in the world that we know, or even set slightly to one side of the world that we know, but uses its magic to illuminate reality, to make us see things in ways that we’ve never seen them before…as if you were catching your reflection in a mirror, in a restaurant, and you get to examine the person across the room, before you realize it’s yourself.”

Kat Howard (@katwithsword), the author of the first story on the program, teaches English Literature at Stony Brook, and is a 2008 graduate of the Clarion Writer’s workshop. This workshop has been dubbed “Sci fi bootcamp” but in this case the “tour of duty” couldn’t have been more fortunate—Gaiman was one of the guest faculty members, and when Howard sent him a draft of her story some months later, he decided it was perfect for the multi-genre anthology he was compiling with Al Sarrantonio, called Stories.

So Howard’s “A Life in Fictions” marks her fiction and broadcast debuts. The story, about a woman whose novelist boyfriend writes her into his works, is performed by Marin Ireland, who made her Broadway debut in Neil LaBute’s “Reasons to be Pretty.”

Gaiman’s own story, “The Thing About Cassandra” also dissolves the boundaries between real and imagined life. It’s read by Josh Hamilton—whose stage credits include “Proof” and “The Coast of Utopia,” and whose television credits (almost de rigueur for SHORTS readers) include “Law and Order.” Hamilton is making his Shorts debut with this reading.

“A Life in Fictions” by Kay Howard, performed by Marin Ireland
“The Thing About Cassandra” by Neil Gaiman, performed by Josh Hamilton

To hear the show, find your local station or subscribe to the podcast.

Photo credit: Cats in Black Forest – Gengenbach, Germany by Hyun Lee via Flickr

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