Present Writers: Ellen Klages

This is the latest in a recurring series! For more about the series, please read the original post on Marta Randall, or subsequent posts on Dorothy Heydt, Barbara Hambly, Jane Yolen, Suzy McKee Charnas, Sherwood Smith, Nisi Shawl, Pamela Dean, Gwyneth Jones , Caroline Stevermer, Patricia C. Wrede, Lois McMaster Bujold, Nancy Kress, Diane Duane, Candas Jane Dorsey, Greer Gilman, Robin McKinley, Laurie Marks, Ellen Kushner, Delia Sherman,Rosemary Kirstein, Karen Joy Fowler, and Susan Cooper.

There are writers who are just like their books. Who are just exactly like you’d think they’d be, and if you’ve loved their books you are not the least bit surprised when they are like that. (coughPamelacough) And then there are writers like Ellen Klages, whose books show an extremely different side than the first thing you see of them when you meet them at a convention.

Ellen is popular as a toastmaster for good reason. She is improvisational and funny and knows how to find the common points in a crowd and work them for in-jokes–or create new in-jokes all her own that everyone is immediately invited into.

But her fiction is another thing completely. Her toasts are not insensitive, but her fiction is actively sensitive. This is the thoughtful inward part, and it’s amazing. Klages particularly shines when she’s writing historical fiction about (mostly) girls and women who don’t fit the expectations put on them in their time. Her work is tender and thoughtful and conflicted as well as funny, and the relationships in it are extremely strong. I love how Klages writes budding scientists and would like to see more of that kind of character done as well as she does it–but in the meantime I’m glad she’s showing a good way.

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